The importance of essay writing
Essay writing is a major assessment item for most of the study programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Thus, it is essential for you to master academic writing skills so that you can convey your ideas and arguments clearly and effectively to your readers, notably course instructors.
This guide will share useful information about writing an academic essay and what you should be focused on at different stages of writing.
What is an academic essay?
In most cases, an academic essay is a piece of writing in which you have to identify your position / stance on a research topic by presenting your arguments with evidence.
How is an academic essay structured?
An academic essay usually consists of the following parts:
  • Abstract (Subject to instructors’ requirement):
      -   Summary of the whole essay
  • Introduction:
​      -   Provide background information on the topic (i.e. specific problem or issue you are addressing) and state the main argument to support your              position / stance
  • Literature Review (Subject to instructors’ requirement):
      -   Provide readers with a summary of scholarly works on the topic concerned (an intensive search for books and journal articles is needed as                  there may be diverse views on an issue)
  • Main Body:
     -   Present clearly and logically your arguments in the main body of the essay with evidence found during the research process      
        (The evidence can be facts, figures, definitions, theories, statements from influential figures of a profession / field etc. You may refer to           Resource Evaluation for selecting relevant and reliable sources of information to support your arguments in the essay.)
     -   Raise counterarguments, if appropriate, to outline opposing views and then rebuke these views with solid evidence
        (The aim is to prove that your arguments are more credible and persuasive, and hence strengthen your position / stance.)      
  • Conclusion:
     -   Summarize your key points stated in the body of the essay and reflect on the broader significance of the topic
        (You may make a prediction about the future of the issue discussed based on your investigation and/or suggest other relevant issues             worthy of consideration to prompt your readers to conduct further research.)
How to write an essay?
The following information outlines a 4-stage process of essay writing.
  • Stage 1: Planning
     -   Get started by brainstorming the research topic, which can help you generate ideas and organize your thinking
        (You could work out a brief but clear outline on what you are going to cover in the essay or make a mind map to visually note down                 your ideas.)
  • Stage 2: Drafting
     -   Write out the ideas according to the outline or mind map (the blueprint of your essay) to prevent you from losing track of what you have already           planned to cover in the essay
     -   Organize the ideas in different paragraphs and present them in a logical flow that consists of introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion
        (Subject to instructors’ requirement, literature review may be needed and has to be placed between the introduction and the body                   paragraphs)
     -   Get your draft written as quickly as possible
        (Do not worry about writing poorly at the first attempt as you will certainly need to modify your draft several times afterwards)
  • Stage 3: Editing / Proofreading
    -   Read through the essay and examine carefully if there is any redundant or unimportant information that should be removed at this final stage
    -   Rewrite or polish the sentences that cannot clearly convey your ideas and arguments to readers
    -   Make sure that there are no grammatical errors and misspelled words in the entire essay
  • Stage 4: ​Referencing
    -   In addition to in-text citation, you must compile a reference list after the conclusion to acknowledge the sources you have used in the essay.                The referencing style adopted in the in-text citation and reference list must be consistent with each other and the rules of the style have to be              strictly followed. (Please refer to APA Referencing for details)
    -   Please be fully aware that referencing is an integral part of academic writing and relates to the issue of academic integrity. Failure to do so will            likely receive an academic penalty.
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Books & eBooks

Call no.: LB2369 .G747 2019
ISBN: 9781352005226
Publication Year: 2019



Greetham, B. (2019). How to write your undergraduate dissertation (3rd ed.). Red Globe Press.

Call no.: LB2369 .L54 2018
ISBN: 9780226430911
Publication Year: 2018



Lipson, C. (2018). How to write a BA thesis: A practical guide from your first ideas to your finished paper (2nd ed.). University of Chicago Press.

Call no.: LB2369 .T82 2019
ISBN: 9780226430263
Publication Year: 2019


Turabian, K. L. (2019). Student's guide to writing college papers (5th ed.). University of Chicago Press.

Call no.: PE1404 .G74 2021
ISBN: 9781352011043
Publication Year: 2021


Greetham, B. (2021). How to write your literature review. Red Globe Press.

ISBN: 9781003031680
Publication Year: 2023


Thomson, P. (2023).  Refining your academic writing: Strategies for reading, revising and rewriting. Routledge.

Call no.: PE1478 .M3772 2017
ISBN: 9782761341509
Publication Year: 2017


Marshall, S. (2017). Advance in academic writing: Integrating research, critical thinking, academic reading and writing. Pearson.
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Online Resources
The webpage providers information about conducting research using primary source (e.g surveys, interviews) and secondary source (e.g. books, journal articles) methods. It also offers tips on how to write literature review and evaluate sources for credibility.
  Produced by the Harvard University, the website provides detailed instructions on essay writing, such as constructing a thesis, developing topic sentences and making counter-arguments.
  The webpage offers important notes and tips to help students write a professional academic paper, such as how to make a clear and concise thesis statement, the proper use of transitional words, and ways to improve sentence clarity and variation.
  Produced by the University of Manchester, the website offers numerous examples of phrases that assist students in writing academic papers. The examples are categorized according to various writing purposes, such as describing trends, making comparisons and offering critical claims.
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