Understanding an economics essay

The subject of economics is not always the most engaging. It can seem tiring, boring and too difficult to fathom. However, once you understand the mechanics of it then you will have the key to a world filled with a richness of knowledge. Economics can be an extremely stimulating subject and once you understand it and you know how to write an economics essay then you will be sure to pass either your A Level or your degree. It is therefore vital that you get to grips with some of the basics of essay structure and how to use economic theories to vindicate your argument.

 

This may seem like an intense and perplexing area to launch yourself into, however you shouldn’t be alarmed. This article will guide you through how to write an essay and it will explain some of the potential pit falls that you may encounter. It will show how to make sure that your essay is persuasive, interesting and to the highest possible standard to get you the best marks possible.

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The introduction of your essay is one of the most important parts. It allows you to outline your argument briefly an also to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject. For instance, if you were answering a question about the effects of the house price bubble on modern American society, you would explain your argument briefly before mentioning what you know about the house price bubble. You could link the 2008 crash to it as well as the effect it had on the socio-economic living standards of modern Americans. This would demonstrate to the reader that you understand, not only how to frame your argument but that you can also provide support for that argument. You must always remember that your introduction should not be too long or too detailed – if you try to make your introduction too detailed then you move into the area reserved for your main arguments. The separation between your introduction and your main body can be viewed in the same way as the separation of church and state in America and other countries – they are connected but not in a way that you would be unable to distinguish one from the other. It is therefore vital that you remember your introduction should only touch on your argument briefly and not attempt to answer it completely.

Once you have written your introduction it is time to move onto your central argument. Your central argument should form the majority of your essay and should not only answer the question you have been set but provide evidence as to why your answer is correct and discuss the subject you are writing about fully and compressively. A strong argument will allow you to gain the most marks possible and convince the reader that you are right. Unlike the introduction, which should follow the standard set for introductions as mentioned above, your central argument should be well thought through and follow a particular structure. That is why you need to make a plan for it before you write it out in full, allowing you to properly think about the aim of your essay, be certain that you understand how to convey your argument and what you should bring into the essay as evidence to convince the reader that your interpretation is correct. This requires you to think about your argument in several stages.

  • The first stage. The first stage of planning your argument must be to think of what the question is asking you. For instance, if the question was about mortgage equity payments in recession periods you have to think about what wording is used. If the question was phrased “How did mortgage equity payments effect business growth during periods of recession?” you would know to focus on business growth and how they were affected by mortgage equity payments. This may sound simple, but students are often tripped up by their failure to understand the question. You may be able to produce an entirely convincing and brilliant argument but if it fundamentally misunderstands what the question is asking you then you won’t get many marks at all. It is also important to think about relevancy when doing the first part of planning your argument; you must focus on what seem immediately relevant to the question, this will help frame your argument and ensure that you use pieces of evidence which support your argument and do not seem at odds with the framing of the question. This is a universal truth of all essays, but it is particularly relevant with an economics essay because if you fail to structure your essay properly then the reader will be even more confused when you move onto more complex elements of economics.
  • The second stage. Once you have considered what the question is asking you, you need to move onto to brainstorming ideas of evidence you could use to support your argument. Returning to our earlier example, if you have decided that mortgage equity payments negatively effected businesses during periods of recession, you can use as an example the 1987 global stock market crash – the failing of the market lead to house prices being obliterated which in turn hurt the businesses of those who owned houses but also those in the property market. You can also use the 2008 crash and the 1929 crash to demonstrate that in both great recessions, like in 2008 and 1929 and in minor crashes like in 1987 the property market and mortgage equity payments were impacted. These pieces of evidence should be written into your plan so that when you come to writing your essay you can easily refer to them and know when the put certain evidence in and how it will help your argument. This is particularly useful when you are dealing with timed essays at A Level as you will have to work quickly and may not have the time to think about evidence to use, or, because of the time constraints, you may panic and forget evidence. Making sure you have a plan endeavours to reduce this problem and allow you more time to craft a seamless argument.
  • The third stage. At this point, you should have thought of your argument in some depth and considered what evidence you want to use and put it into your plan. It is now time to think about what sort of theory you want to use for your argument. Theory is particularly important in both A Level and Degree essays as they allow you to show off that you have a wider knowledge of the subject. For instance, in English Literature, the use of Marxist or Feminist theories allows you to get further into the text and comment on the author’s motivation behind writing in the way they do or why they even wrote the story or novel in the first place. It allows you to get inside the mind of the writer whose work you are commenting on and use that as a means of supporting your argument. However, this may seem more difficult in subjects like History and Economics; how can you possibly use theory in subjects where events happened objectivity and it is hard to interpret them in the same way you can with literature – for instance, you can interpret the Saxons winning at the Battle of Hastings in a History essay because it is simply not true. What you can do, however, is use theories to explain why things happened or why they are important. For instance, in an economics essay, if you supported the monetarist school of thought, you can use the Keynesian theory of economics to explain why Britain suffered intense economic depreciation in the late 1970s. Conversely, if your argument is that the reason that Britain suffered intense economic strain in the 1970s is because of a failure to give workers more rights, you can use the Marxist theory of economics to suggest that the capitalist system inevitably results in crashes because it is constructed to aid only the rich and not the poor. Both uses of theories take the same series of failings in the British economy and present two completely opposite reasons for why they happened. Both are entirely credible interpretations because they don’t try to suggest the events didn’t happen or happened differently but to interpret the cause of them. Using these sorts of theories can ensure that your argument is the strongest it can possibly be as it shows that not only do you understand the question and know what evidence to use for it but how to support it with theoretical interpretation.

Now that you have gone through the three bullet points your plan should include your central argument, your evidence and any theories which you can think of. This will ensure that your essay is tight, structured and well organised. How much you write obviously depends on the question and on whether you are writing your essay at A Level or for your Degree; if you’re writing your essay at A Level then the use of theories won’t be regarded as important for Economics students – the use of facts and making sure your essay is structured will be given higher priority. However, you should start including theory as it means that when you get to university, you’ll have gotten into the habit of using them and thus not struggle with the concept of it.

Once your plan is done, it is time to write your essay. When writing the essay, it is wise to remember that you should take your time to make sure that you are using the best language possible. It is not enough to simply copy your plan because your plan won’t be detailed enough – it will provide you with the outline for what you should say but it won’t give the full details of what you can say. Try to make sure that you use persuasive language as this will help cement in the reader’s mind that you are knowledgeable about the subject and that you can persuade them that your argument is correct. However, don’t try to over complicate your language – this will make your essay clunky and weaken your central argument. You can use as many pieces of evidence and theory as you want but if your language is repetitive and attempts to throw too much at the reader at once then your essay will become unreadable. Your essay must be explanatory but not so much that it doesn’t answer the question, nor should it be so simple that it doesn’t properly explain what you are arguing. This must always be at the forefront of your mind when writing an economics essay or any type of essay as it will allow you to write the most informative and high-quality essays you possibly can.

Like the introduction, your conclusion should be straightforward as it should follow a standard set for conclusions across all essays. Your conclusion should be the culmination of your argument and act a means of neatly tying everything you have discussed in your argument together. It should reiterate the answer you provided to the question in the introduction but with the full weight of the evidence you have provided throughout the essay to back it up. Your conclusion is the point where you can give the reader your final and best impression – make sure that your conclusion comes across as authoritative and persuasive and brings up the strongest points that have featured in your essay. However, don’t try to list them – weave them into your conclusion subtly so that they are a means of reminding your reader of the point without hitting them over the head with it. You should endeavour to make your conclusion like your argument – succinct and clearly understandable to the reader. You should also make sure that you end by stating what you think is the relevance of the question to the world in general and to the discipline of economics in particular.

This will allow you to relate your argument back to something that is tangible. To use the example from earlier, if you believe that mortgage equity payments had a negative effect on businesses during the recession then you could briefly talk about the real world impact of the failing house market as on society as a whole and how a recession can impact all sections of society, including the business community that may be partially responsible for it. This will help to make your conclusion stand out and allow you to link it to any theories that you have previously used in your essay – for instance, if you want to use a monetarist theory then you could link it to the real world outcomes of the recession and argue that the markets need to be freer to allow capital to travel easier and prevent another fall in the value of house prices.

Now that you have finished your essay, it is time to review it. This process allows you to check for any spelling and grammatical mistakes and to see if your argument stands up also to criticism. Carefully think about what you are using as evidence and see if you can strengthen it with any other evidence or whether your points are entirely relevant. This is vital for ensuring that your essay has real credibility and to check whether you fully understand what the question is asking you. This is what examiners will be looking for to determine whether you have succeeded in answering the question set for you or not. It is important that you take the time to make sure your essay is the best it can possibly be.

Having read this article I’m sure that you will have no trouble with an economics essay or any other type of essay. However, if you do still have problems writing an essay or any other piece of writing why not contact us? We provide writing services for essay writing, CVs, cover letters and much more. Find out how we can help you?

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