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Session 4

Academic Writing 6 – Essay structure

Welcome back to Academic Writing – the course with the tools and knowledge to help you become a top-class writer. This time we're looking at a fundamental aspect of writing academic assignments: essay structure.

Sessions in this unit

Session 4 score

0 / 16

  • 0 / 11
    Activity 1
  • 0 / 2
    Activity 2
  • 0 / 3
    Activity 3

Activity 3

What to include in a conclusion

In the conclusion of an essay, good writers often do three things:

1) Repeat the main message (the thesis statement) of the essay, in different words

2) Summarise the main points of the essay, again in different words

3) Make a final statement – often saying why the topic is important, or making recommendations for practice or future research

Note: 1) and 2) can sometimes come in the opposite order.

Nothing new!
Nothing in the conclusion should be new or surprising to the reader. The purpose of the conclusion is to summarise the main body of the essay, so the reader is left with a clear idea of your main argument - and the main reasons to accept this argument. So don't introduce new information at this stage!

Try the activity

To do

Read the conclusion taken from a business English essay about company takeovers. Has the writer followed the advice (1, 2 and 3 above) about writing a good conclusion? You can check your answer with the activity below.

In summary, implementing a takeover via a scheme of arrangement has two principal advantages over the conventional takeover procedure. Firstly, a scheme of arrangement enables the target company to exercise control over the process, and secondly, a scheme of arrangement removes the requirement to pay stamp duty. Hence, we can conclude that in many cases a scheme of arrangement is preferable to a conventional takeover. However, there may be particular circumstances in which a scheme of arrangement will be impractical, and the choice will inevitably depend on the nature of the bid.


Writing an effective conclusion

3 Questions

Has the writer followed points 1, 2 and 3?

Congratulations you completed the Quiz
Excellent! Great job! Bad luck! You scored:
x / y

So, we can see that the writer has followed the advice about conclusions. The main argument of the essay has been summarised, the conclusion links back to the thesis statement that is in the introduction, and there is a final statement about implications for future practice. You can find out more about how conclusions work in our free pdf worksheet – just click the 'Downloads' button towards the bottom of this page.


All set for well-structured writing

Let's recap the main points about writing the introduction, body and conclusion of an excellent essay.

  • Good essay introductions usually have four parts: a background statement, a focus on the essay question, a thesis statement and signposting.
  • The background statement introduces the topic of the essay and sets the context.
  • Show your reader why the essay question is important or interesting – a good way to do this is by showing how academics disagree about the topic.
  • Your thesis statement tells the reader clearly what your answer to the essay question will be. It's good idea to write this part of the essay last.
  • Signposting in the introduction helps the reader recognise the overall structure of your essay – use phrases like 'Firstly this essay will examine...'
  • The body of your essay should have a logical structure. Keep related points together, especially if you are comparing two or more things or topics.
  • A good essay conclusion repeats the message of the thesis statement, summarises the essay's main points and makes a final statement about the future.
  • Don't include new information in the conclusion – its purpose is to summarise, so the reader has a clear idea of your argument and reasoning.

Find out more

Now you've had a look at the basics of writing a well-structured essay. it's time for more practice. Click on the Downloads button to find a free pdf worksheet looking in more detail at the structure of introductions and the essay body as well as what not to include in the conclusion. You'll also find a lot more resources to help you practise your academic writing.

Where next

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

Session Vocabulary

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