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Structure Handout: Purpose of an Academic Essay Essay

The purpose of an academic essay is to present a line of thinking which reaches a conclusion, with reasons presented to persuade others to agree with that conclusion. Basic Structure of an academic essay 4 main parts: 1. Introduction 2. Main body 3. Conclusion 4. References Introduction The introduction will explain the academic problem/argument as you see it, and say how you intend to handle it. It tells the reader what to expect, and what to look for (say what you are going to say). The purpose of the introduction is to arouse the interest of the reader. It should be a clear statement around which the rest of the essay can be built. It needs to be between 5-10% of the total word count. Your introduction should answer the following questions for the reader: What is the essay about? (previews the arguments) “A major change that has occurred in the Western family is an increased incidence in divorce.

Whereas in the past, divorce was a relatively rare occurrence, in recent times it has become quite commonplace. This change is borne out clearly in census figures. For example thirty years ago in Australia, only one marriage in ten ended in divorce; nowadays the figure is more than one in three (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1996: p.45). A consequence of this change has been a substantial increase in the number of single parent families and the attendant problems that this brings (Kilmartin, 1997). An important issue for sociologists, and indeed for all of society, is why these changes in marital patterns have occurred. In this essay I will seek to critically examine a number of sociological explanations for the ‘divorce phenomenon’ and also consider the social policy implications that each explanation carries with it. It will be argued that the best explanations are to be found within a broad socioeconomic framework” (Monash University 2008).

Why is the subject important? (the purpose of the essay) “A major change that has occurred in the Western family is an increased incidence in divorce. Whereas in the past, divorce was a relatively rare occurrence, in recent times it has become quite commonplace. This change is borne out clearly in census figures. For example thirty years ago in Australia, only one marriage in ten ended in divorce; nowadays the figure is more than one in three (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1996: p.45). A consequence of this change has been a substantial increase in the number of single parent families and the attendant problems that this brings (Kilmartin, 1997).

An important issue for sociologists, and indeed for all of 1 society, is why these changes in marital patterns have occurred. In this essay I will seek to critically examine a number of sociological explanations for the ‘divorce phenomenon’ and also consider the social policy implications that each explanation carries with it. It will be argued that the best explanations are to be found within a broad socio-economic framework” Monash University 2008). How is the subject going to be addressed? (gives an idea of the structure and what the writer’s informed opinion is on the topic ) “A major change that has occurred in the Western family is an increased incidence in divorce. Whereas in the past, divorce was a relatively rare occurrence, in recent times it has become quite commonplace. This change is borne out clearly in census figures. For example thirty years ago in Australia, only one marriage in ten ended in divorce; nowadays the figure is more than one in three (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1996: p.45).

A consequence of this change has been a substantial increase in the number of single parent families and the attendant problems that this brings (Kilmartin, 1997).An important issue for sociologists, and indeed for all of society, is why these changes in marital patterns have occurred. In this essay I will seek to critically examine a number of sociological explanations for the ‘divorce phenomenon’ and also consider the social policy implications that each explanation carries with it. It will be argued that the best explanations are to be found within a broad socio-economic framework” (Monash University 2008). Main body The main body of the essay will contain the points you want to make, with supporting arguments and evidence (say it). The main body of your essay should be organised into paragraphs.

These should be used to build your argument in a series of logical steps. The body can contain as many paragraphs as necessary to support the position put forward in your introduction. Each paragraph contains a topic sentence and support sentences which relate directly to the topic. The topic sentence states the main idea of the paragraph. While it is often the opening sentence, it can also occur in other positions within the paragraph, and may even be the final sentence. For example: One type of explanation for rising divorce has focused on changes in laws relating to marriage. For example, Bilton, Bonnett and Jones (1987) argue that increased rates of divorce do not necessarily indicate that families are now more unstable.

It is possible, they claim, that there has always been a degree of marital instability. They suggest that changes in the law have been significant, because they have provided unhappily married couples with ‘access to a legal solution to preexistent marital problems’ (p.301). Bilton et al. therefore believe that changes in divorce rates can be best explained in terms of changes in the legal system. The problem with this type of explanation however, is that it does not consider why these laws have changed in the first place. It could be argued that reforms to family law, as well as the increased rate of divorce that has accompanied them, are the product of more fundamental changes in society (Monash University 2008).

Support sentences follow the introduction; discuss the controlling idea, using facts, arguments, analysis, examples, and other information concluding sentence summarizes the connections between the information discussed in the body of the paragraph and the paragraph’s controlling idea. It could also link forward to the main idea of the next paragraph. An example of a supporting sentence: One type of explanation for rising divorce has focused on changes in laws relating to marriage. For example, Bilton, Bonnett and Jones (1987) argue that increased rates of divorce do not necessarily indicate that families are now more unstable. It is possible, they claim, that there has always been a degree of marital instability.

They suggest that changes in the law have been significant, because they have provided unhappily married couples with ‘access to a legal solution to pre-existent marital problems’ (p.301). Bilton et al. therefore believe that changes in divorce rates can be best explained in terms of changes in the legal system. The problem with this type of explanation however, is that it does not consider why these laws have changed in the first place. It could be argued that reforms to family law, as well as the increased rate of divorce that has accompanied them, are the product of more fundamental changes in society (Monash University 2008). Concluding sentence One type of explanation for rising divorce has focused on changes in laws relating to marriage.

For example, Bilton, Bonnett and Jones (1987) argue that increased rates of divorce do not necessarily indicate that families are now more unstable. It is possible, they claim, that there has always been a degree of marital instability. They suggest that changes in the law have been significant, because they have provided unhappily married couples with ‘access to a legal solution to pre-existent marital problems’ (p.301). Bilton et al. therefore believe that changes in divorce rates can be best explained in terms of changes in the legal system. The problem with this type of explanation however, is that it does not consider why these laws have changed in the first place.

It could be argued that reforms to family law, as well as the increased rate of divorce that has accompanied them, are the product of more fundamental changes in society (Monash University 2008). Conclusion The conclusion will remind your reader of your main points of your argument and convince them of the strength of your position (say what you have said) The conclusion should: 1) Present an overview of the topic by reminding them of the main points 2) Restate your position on the topic 3) Not contain any new material Present and overview of the topic – It is difficult to offer a comprehensive explanation for the growing trend of marital breakdown; and it is even more difficult to find solutions that might ameliorate the problems created by it. Clearly though, as I have argued in this essay, the most useful answers are to be found not within a narrow legal framework, but within a broader socio-economic one.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that, whilst we may appear to be living in a time of increased family instability, research suggests that historically, instability may have been the norm rather than the exception. As Bell and Zajdow (1997) point out, in the past, single parent and step families were more common than is assumed – although the disruptive influence then was not divorce, but the premature death of one or both parents. This situation suggests that in studying the modern family, one needs to employ a historical perspective, including the possibility of looking to the past in searching for ways of dealing with problems in the present (Monash University, 2008).

Restate your position on the topic – It is difficult to offer a comprehensive explanation for the growing trend of marital breakdown; and it is even more difficult to find solutions that might ameliorate the problems created by it. Clearly though, as I have argued in this essay, the most useful answers are to be found not within a narrow legal framework, but within a broader socio-economic one. Finally, it is worth pointing out that, whilst we may appear to be living in a time of increased family instability, research suggests that historically, instability may have been the norm rather than the exception.

As Bell and Zajdow (1997) point out, in the past, single parent and step families were more common than is assumed – although the disruptive influence then was not divorce, but the premature death of one or both parents. This situation suggests that in studying the modern family, one needs to employ a historical perspective, including the possibility of looking to the past in searching for ways of dealing with problems in the present (Monash University, 2008). http://www.monash.edu.au/lls/llonline/writing/general/essay/index.xml essay writing tutorial

Planning your essay 1. As soon as you receive your essay title you should deconstruct the title 2. Once you have analysed the question you can use your analysis and what you know about the structure of essays to make a rough plan for your essay 3. Make sure you take into account essay length Deconstruct the title As soon as you receive your essay title you should: Read the question carefully Underline the key words and check their meaning Highlight the instructional words and check their meaning. Most university essay questions include an instructional word in the question. These are the words that tell you what your essay should do. It is important that you understand exactly what these words mean so that you don’t misinterpret a question. Decide upon a reasonable interpretation of the topic.

Instructional words

Analyse Separate or break up something into its component parts so that you discover its nature proportion, function, relationship, etc. Make critical observations, even if they are fairly openended. Your texts, learning guide, lecture and discussion notes should provide sufficient guidelines and your own commonsense should prevail. Find similarities and differences between two or more ideas, events, interpretations, etc. Ensure you understand exactly what you are being asked to compare. Find similarities and differences between two or more ideas, events, interpretations etc. Focus on the differences. Examine the topic or argument in terms of its strengths and weaknesses.

Express your judgements regarding the correctness or merit of the factors being considered. Discuss both strong and weak points and give the results of your own analysis. Student insights are expected and arguments must be justified. Provide concise, clear, authoritative meanings. In such statements, details are not necessarily required, but briefly cite the boundaries or limitations of the definition. Remeber the ‘class’ to which a things belongs and whatever differentiates the particular object from all others in that class. Recall facts, processes or events. You are not asked to explain or interpret. Try to provide a thorough description, emphasising the most important points.

Present a drawing, chart, plan or graphic representation in your answer. Generally, you are also expected to label the diagram and a brief explanation or description may be required. Present a point of view. This is likely to need both description and interpretation. Your opinion must be supported by carefully chosen and authoritative evidence. Provide a list or outline form of reply. In such questions you should recount, one by one, but concisely, the points required. Present a judgement of an issue by stressing both strengths and advantages, and weaknesses and limitations.


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