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Session 4

Academic Writing 2 – Paragraphs

Welcome back to our Academic Writing course – bringing you the essential knowledge and skills you need to be an effective writer in your study life. This time we're looking at a crucial feature of academic writing: the paragraph!

Sessions in this unit

Session 4 score

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    Activity 1
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    Activity 2
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    Activity 3

Activity 3

An introduction to the conclusion

Ending with the conclusion

The conclusion of a paragraph is really important. It may: explain why the writer has included the paragraph; summarise the argument(s) made and evidence given; relate the paragraph to the theme of the essay. It may also signal to the reader what is coming next.

To do

Look at this image to see how academic paragraphs end.

Try the activity

A – Topic sentence
The topic sentence presents the main ideas of the paragraph.

It usually appears near the beginning of the paragraph, though not always.
Topic sentences may include 'signposting' language that show how the paragraph is connected to the paragraphs before it, for example:

  • As a result of this …
  • Another reason …
  • However, ...
  • Turning now to ...

B – Supporting sentences
In a good paragraph, every supporting sentence in the paragraph must be related to the topic sentence.

If there is a sentence in your paragraph which is not directly related to the topic sentence, remove it!
Supporting sentences also sometimes include 'signposting' language, to show the relationship between the ideas in the paragraph, for example:

  • Firstly … Secondly … Thirdly …
  • The first … The second … The third …
  • Furthermore, … However, … On the other hand, …

C – Concluding sentence
The concluding sentence often explains why you have included this paragraph in this assignment.

In order to do this, concluding sentences often repeat words and phrases from the title of the assignment, and/or words and phrases from the topic sentence.


You're on the way to perfect paragraphs! Let's recap what we've learned about paragraphs so far:

  • Good academic writing is made up of paragraphs with one clear idea per paragraph.
  • Paragraphs usually start with a topic sentence – a sentence that gives the main focus of the paragraph.
  • The topic sentence sometimes includes 'signposting' language to link the paragraph to the previous paragraph.
  • Supporting sentences follow the topic sentence. They develop the topic by giving reasons, evidence and/or examples.
  • The concluding sentence usually comes at the end. It explains why the paragraph is important and relates it to the theme of the essay.

Find out more

Are you ready for more paragraph practice? Download our free pdf worksheet to do more activities with a special focus on concluding sentences and advanced paragraph structure. Try the links below for more Go The Distance!

Where next

Digital Literacy image link 2  GTD Academic Writing index link  OU AW image link 2

Session Vocabulary

  • Find out more about distance learning – visit our partner,The OU