Essays: Tips and Examples – OurWarwick
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Essays: Tips and Examples

Luke James United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Luke James | Politics and International Studies (PAIS) Contact Luke

I spent a lot of time stressing about essays during my time at Warwick.

‘Have I addressed the title properly?’ I would ask myself. ‘Does that point even make sense?’ I often wondered. ‘Is my research thorough enough?’ I regularly contemplated while brushing my teeth before bed.

First of all, I probably cared too much. Grades are obviously important. However, at the end of the day, my First-Class degree certificate is literally a piece of paper. If I could change one thing about my university experience, I would try to worry less and smile more.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I’d like to share some essay-writing tips. Just subtle things that helped me get better marks.


You should start your essay by explaining three things:

  1. The debate you are addressing
  2. Your answer to the question
  3. The structure of your essay

By ticking off those tasks, you tell your marker what to expect (which makes their job easier and helps you write a better answer). You might be wondering how that looks in reality… so, here is part of the introduction I wrote in my essay about Donald Trump’s foreign policy.

“This essay will argue that ‘America First’ does convey the main sensibilities of realist foreign policy while noting that Trump’s approach is deeply rooted in his transactionalist account of world politics. Questions regarding the political effectiveness of ‘America First’ are beyond the scope of this contribution; although, in addressing the title, this essay will reflect upon the United States’ altered position among the liberal international order. In doing so, this essay will argue that claims of Trumpian isolationism are mistaken on the basis that they confuse a retreat from liberal values with a departure from the world system itself.”

Let’s run through this quickly. The first sentence explains what I will argue in the essay. The second sentence sets the parameters of the discussion. The final sentence addresses my position vis-à-vis the literature at large.

Why is that important? Well, it demonstrated that I had done my research, had firm views, and had considered the broader context of the discussion. All of those things are important when writing a PAIS essay.


The following text is from my dissertation, it’s pasted from a paragraph that summarises one of my chapters:

“In effect, this allowed ‘Leave’ campaigners to broaden their coalition, expanding a voting block otherwise defined by ideological opposition to European integration. Therefore, immigration played a supplementary role during the Brexit referendum campaign, providing a policy-based critique of the EU that was conducive to the UK electorate’s predisposition for anti-immigration rhetoric. Against the backdrop of the Conservatives’ failure to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands” per year, a Brexit outcome became attractive to immigration sceptics once convinced that leaving the EU would allow the UK to tighten its borders.”

Conclusions are similar to introductions. Instead of telling the marker what you will write about, you’re meant to remind them of what they have already read. In my case, I had to reinforce my view that policy-based concerns about the EU are secondary to ideology-based concerns to British Eurosceptics.

How did I do it? Well, it’s similar to Point Evidence Explanation (which might be familiar to you if you went to secondary school in England!). First, I stated my point of view. Second, I provided evidence to support it. Third, I explained the ramifications of what I had presented.

It’s simple… but effective.


Finally, please proofread. Please. Please. Please. Please. Proofread.

The easiest way to lose marks is by not spotting typos and taking them out of your work.

My process was this.

  1. Proofread each paragraph once it was finished
  2. Re-read the entire essay once it was finished
  3. Run the essay through Grammarly
  4. Leave it for a day
  5. Proofread the essay again

That’s all for now! If you have any questions for me, feel free to get in touch.

Luke James United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Luke James | Politics and International Studies (PAIS) Contact Luke

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