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Structuring your assignment

 

To structure your assignment appropriately it is important to consider the type of assignment you are writing, e.g. an essay or report or reflective writing as each has a different structure. You can download visual templates to help you with this from the CLaSS website.

Then think about the question and what you need to include. You can use mind mapping to develop your ideas and see how they fit into the structure.

Some people do not like starting their assignment with a blank page. If this is you, you could start by using a mind map template where you fit your ideas into the structure. This can be helpful as you can see which idea would fit into each section and move your ideas around to see how they link together best.

The template below is a basic essay structure template for Mind Genius which you can download below.

 

 

Basic Essay Structure

 

 

You click on the box to edit the essay title and give each section a heading. You should aim to include between three and five main themes in your essay depending on word length. If you have a longer essay, it is better to explore the themes in more depth rather than making lots of points which you don’t adequately explore.

In shorter assignments each theme may take up one paragraph. In longer assignments you may have several linked paragraphs on each theme. A simple way to think about paragraph structure is PEE.

  • Point – What is the main point of this paragraph?
  • Evidence- What evidence do you have to support this?
  • Explain- How does this evidence relate to your argument (this is your answer to the question)? Are there any limitations to this evidence?

It helps to fill out each of the branches, so you know you have enough evidence for each of the points that you are making and can relate this evidence back to your question; doing this can help you check to see if you have done enough reading to start writing and where the gaps are.

For more information about paragraph structure you can watch the video on developing your critical voice, on the CLaSS website.

https://libguides.library.dmu.ac.uk/class/academicwriting

One you have filled out your main themes you can then think about what the best order would be. Have a look at each point and consider how it relates to the next point. Make sure you make those links clear when you write this up.

After this you should have a clear idea about what your answer is to the question. Look back at your assignment brief and ensure that you have covered all the points that you needed to in your assignment. Then you can consider what you are going to write for your introduction and conclusion. Your introduction should give a taste of what your argument is going to be and make it clear how you are going to answer the question. In your conclusion you should remind your reader how you have answered the question and what the key points are that you are making in your essay.

Once you are happy with your structure you can either start writing in Mind Genius or export to Word and write it  in there.

Emily Forster

Emily Forster is a lecturer in the Centre for Learning and Study Support (CLaSS).

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