5 bright ideas to help select a topic for your essays

  1. What has interested you the most? Look through your course notes – what topic/class/module/lecture/seminar/part of the course text-book? Use this as a base to select a topic. If you’re interested in something from the outset, it’s much easier to engage with it; you’ll be excited about doing research and writing about it. If it’s a long essay, and one that you’ll spend several months working on; again interest is crucial for success.

  2. Talk to other people – your tutor, fellow students, friends, family – bounce your ideas off other people. Talk about what interested you the most on the course, and why. What was intriguing about it? What may you want to investigate further in more depth? Was there something that you enjoyed? Was there something you found curious/odd? If you have an idea for an essay topic, run it by your tutor. Getting the essay question/topic right is half the battle – you need to ensure your tutor approves of it.

  3. What have you disagreed with? Have you ever read something that you didn’t think was right? Do you have a good reason why you think it’s wrong? This is a good starting point for an essay. It would demonstrate excellent original thinking if you’re able to disprove an earlier theory and offer an alternative.

  4. Something missing? Is there something that you think has been done well, but you could tackle it from a different angle? Is there something that an author has missed? Or that the topic would benefit from including? This means that you’re not completely re-inventing the wheel, but looking at it in a slightly different way to improve it further. It’s a balancing act between finding something that has an element of originality (to score high marks), but equally something that has enough written on the subject, for you to find a good amount of literature about to support/refute your argument. Once you have found a topic, it is sensible to do a search of e-journals to see what other current similar literature is out there.

  5. Use theories. Essays can get high marks for using theories; so find at least two theorists in your subject area and apply their work to a topic you’re interested in. It can be beneficial to find theories that you can compare and contrast. High scoring essays need to be critical and analytical and not simply just descriptive.

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