- The masters level essay requires references, citations and so on.
- The essay should refer to the theoretical paradigms and traditions within the subject area.
- Any arguments put forward should be carefully contextualised.
- All essays should contain an analysis of concepts and demonstrate how they fit into the broader field of your topic.
- You need to show that you can interpret, critique and understand your topic from a new or different perspective. In order to do these things successfully it is necessary to discuss, analyse, evaluate and give a cogent argument to convince readers that you understand how your research fits into the discipline as a whole.
- You need to challenge existing assumptions and give explanations as to why you are challenging them.
- You need to develop your ability for conceptual thinking, so you need to also develop your ability to think in the abstract.
- Your conclusions must be convincing. Your arguments should be plausible as should your conclusions.
What is needed in a masters level essay
There are certain common features necessary for a master level essay: -
- Originality of thought
- A demonstration of thorough research skills
- A demonstration of an ability to write according to academic conventions
- The ability to write in the appropriate academic register
- Immaculate presentation skills
These criteria might seem rather daunting, but if you have managed to climb this far up the academic ladder, writing such essays is not beyond your grasp.
When you write Masters level essays it is routinely expected that they are original and contain convincing arguments to demonstrate your mastery of the subject. Of course, plagiarism is never acceptable in academic work, so you have to be sure that you don’t succumb to the temptation to copy paste from other writers works. If you do plagiarise you might be sent down from the university. You have to understand that plagiarism is frowned upon.
You will be provided with reading lists by your tutors, and you are expected to read all the material contained in them. You should also read through the bibliographies given at the end of each article/book or paper and so on. Follow up the citations and decide which are relevant to your research and read the material thoroughly. Also, be sure to follow footnotes. Find more resources to demonstrate that you understand how to do research. The more relevant sources you can quote from and cite in your work, the better.
As you read the materials make notes and make sure that you give page numbers for quotes as well as stating which editions you have used. If you make notes as you read, you will find it makes your writing task easier. Don’t leave it until the last minute to sort out your references and citations. Do them as you go along or ultimately you will find that you are in a mess that will be difficult to extricate yourself from. Write the name of the book/article and so on at the top of a page of your notes and add to them as you read. If you write in a Word document this will be helpful.
By the time you embark on a master’s degree course, you should be familiar with the academic journals that are relevant to your field of study. Search your university library and ask to be informed when new (relevant) journals arrive. Put your name down on the library’s mailing list.
Of course, everyone as his or her own methods of working, so you will have to find your own modus operandi. Just make sure that you are methodical and can follow what you have written. In other words, don’t make random notes and hope that they will all make sense to you when you come to write your essay.
Develop your descriptive and your critical writing
In terms of academia, descriptive writing goes far beyond describing a scene or person. Examples of descriptive writing may include, but are not limited to giving: –
- the background to case studies and your own research
- facts and figures
- describing a sequence of events, or at least summarising them, and explaining a procedure
- descriptions of a procedure and the outcome(s) of an experiment.
If you write a critique of a play, film or book and so on, then you need to refer to the works of other critics as well as giving your own unique perspective.
Critical writing is often fraught with traps that a novice can easily fall into. You need to understand and recognise the limitations of any evidence you have garnered. and admit your shortfalls.
If you are challenging the ideas of well-established writers and critics, hedge. For example, you could say ‘It might be argued that..., or ‘A different/alternative point of view could be that...’
When you write in an academic way and follow the conventions, you have to ‘think outside the box.’ You also need to back up your arguments and make then convincing. You also need to understand and recognise the limitations of the evidence, either yours, or that of someone else. Don’t be dogmatic.