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Sociology

Help with writing assignments

You can improve your skills at writing assignments for your subject area in a number of ways: 

  • Read the guidance or view the online tutorial on this page.  They both go through the TIME model (Targeted, In-depth, Measured, Evidence-based) to explain what's required in academic writing.
  • Come along to one of our Succeed@Tees workshops. We run a workshop on academic writing, as well as on other types of writing (including critical writing, reflective writing, report writing).  See the http://libguides.tees.ac.uk/workshops for more information, including a list of dates and times.
  • Book a one-to-one tutorial with a learning advisor at the Learning Hub. We can provide guidance on your structure and writing style.

Guidance on academic writing

  • Writing an assignment takes time, more time than you may expect.  Just because you find yourself spending many weeks on an assignment doesn’t mean that you’re approaching it in the wrong way.
  • It also takes time to develop the skills to write well, so don’t be discouraged if your early marks aren’t what you’d hoped for.  Use the feedback from your previous assignments to improve.
  • Different types of assignments require different styles, so be prepared for the need to continue to develop your skills.

We’ve broken down TIME into 4 key elements of academic writing: Targeted, In-depth, Measured and Evidence-based.

time togos

Targeted

Your assignment needs to be targeted.  It should:

  • Be focused on the questions and criteria
  • Make a decision
  • Follow an argument

 

in-depth

Your assignment needs to be in-depth.  You should consider your questions and criteria thoroughly, thinking about all possible aspects, and including the argument both for and against different viewpoints.

You should:

  • Identify topic areas
  • Research
  • Plan your assignment
    • Think about your introduction and conclusion

measured

An academic writing style is measured. By this, we mean that it’s:

  • Cautious
  • Emotionally neutral
  • Formal – written in the third person and in full sentences

evidence-based

Your assignment needs to be evidence-based. You should:

  • Reference all the ideas in your work
  • Paraphrase your evidence
  • Apply critical thinking to your evidence

Once you’ve found all your evidence, and have decided what to say in each section, you need to write it up as paragraphs.  Each paragraph should be on a single topic, making a single point.  A paragraph is usually around a third of a page. 

We find Godwin’s (2014) WEED model very helpful for constructing paragraphs.

 

W is for What

You should begin your paragraph with the topic or point that you’re making, so that it’s clear to your lecturer.  Everything in the paragraph should fit in with this opening sentence.

 

E is for Evidence 

The middle of your paragraph should be full of evidence – this is where all your references should be incorporated.  Make sure that your evidence fits in with your topic.

 

E is for Examples

Sometimes it’s useful to expand on your evidence.  If you’re talking about a case study, the example might be how your point relates to the particular scenario being discussed.

 

D is for Do

You should conclude your paragraph with the implications of your discussion.  This gives you the opportunity to add your commentary, which is very important in assignments which require you to use critical analysis. 

So, in effect, each paragraph is like a mini-essay, with an introduction, main body and conclusion.

Allow yourself some TIME to proofread your assignment.  You’ll probably want to proofread it several times. 

You should read it through at least once for sense and structure, to see if your paragraphs flow.  Check that your introduction matches the content of your assignment.  You’ll also want to make sure that you’ve been concise in your writing style. 

You’ll then need to read it again to check for grammatical errors, typos and that your references are correct.

It’s best if you can create some distance from your assignment by coming back to it after a few days. It’s also often easier to pick out mistakes if you read your work aloud.

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Online tutorial for writing assignments

We have an online tutorial to support academic writing. Click on the image below or go to http://tees.libguides.com/academic_writing to view the tutorial.

Further Reading

The Study Skills Handbook. 4th ed

Shelved at 378.170281/COT

Writing for University. 2nd edn

Shelved at 808.066378/GOD

Planning your essay. 2nd edn.

Shelved at 808.02/GOD