Main Essay Assessment
The course will be formally assessed through ONE essay (3000 words, excluding the bibliography, with no tables or figures),
Those who are more than 10% (i.e., 300 words) above or below the word limit may be penalized.
The essay question is designed to cover issues that span across various topics covered in the course – and the essay should reflect this. Much of the course focuses on how theories relating to public health science are underpinned by empirical research. Therefore, we would expect the essays to demonstrate an understanding of relevant empirical findings, and how these findings can be used to substantiate a well-structured and clear argument. Make sure the concepts you discuss are clear and well defined, reference other people‘s ideas and data, and be clear about what kind of inequalities you are talking about (e.g., socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity).
The essay should be typewritten or word-processed, double spaced, and in a standard font of not less than 12 pt. It should be clearly written, free of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, properly referenced, and include a full bibliography. Work that does not meet these standards will be penalized accordingly.
Please follow these guidelines when submitting the essay:
- A PG coursework cover sheet should be included with the essay (available on the SPS PG common room Moodle page). The cover sheet should include the following information: (1) your matriculation number (NOT your name); (2) the course title; (3) the Course Convenor‘s name; (4) the question title; and (5) two-word counts (with and without the bibliography).
About the Essay Plan:
ESSAY WRITING: THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
- Reference your sources in the text using the Harvard System.
- Include a bibliography.
- Cite page numbers when you quote someone‘s work.
- Use footnotes sparsely (if at all), and check how it is done in the literature.
- Use quotations sparsely (frequent use often reflects insecurity on your part; try to rephrase the author‘s words instead), and make sure that they illustrate your point.
- Avoid colloquialisms, slang, or chatty language.
- Introduce your work by addressing the question and/or saying how you are going to answer, and/or warning the reader of what direction your answer will take. The content of your introduction is a matter of style but it is important that your essay has a recognizable introductory section.
- Conclude/round your work off firmly. Don‘t leave it hanging in mid-air.
- There should be a logical order to the points you make.
- Avoid repetition. Instead, forward/backreference.
- Indicate explicitly how your points affect your argument. Don‘t let points speak for themselves.
Use of examples
- Use examples for illustration:
- i) to show your understanding of some theoretical point to the reader.
- ii) as a way to test your own ideas (you can do this explicitly, to show your awareness of the complexity of the points you make);
iii) to follow your ideas through and take your argument into more depth.
- Generally, examples can be very effectively used to discipline your thoughts, enhance their complexity and test their accuracy. This makes your work clearer, more complex, and interesting to read.
- Avoid examples for their own sake (i.e. redundancy).
- Arguing one case without acknowledging criticisms of this case. This makes the reader wonder whether you were aware of the other side to the argument.
- Not showing where you stand ultimately (i.e. not concluding at all, but merely presenting the different sides).
- Not concluding on the topic you started off addressing.
- Bringing new points into the conclusion which you have not argued in your text.
- Not having a conclusion at all.
Other good advice
- Avoid using ̳etc.‘ It is a sign of lazy thinking.
- Avoid sexist language. It is often incorrect. (E.g. Don‘t use ̳man‘ for ̳human‘/‘people‘, ̳his‘ for ̳his/her‘, ̳he‘ for s/he‘, ̳mankind‘ for ̳humankind‘ and so on. You can also avoid this problem by using the plural instead.)
- Avoid redundancy (e.g. ̳societies or groups of people). Make up your mind about which suits the sentence best.
- Avoid expressing doubts about your argument (e.g. Instead of ̳I will try to show …‘, write ̳I will show…‘). It weakens your case.
- Avoid overstatements, and use words like ̳very‘ sparingly. You lose credibility.
Common spelling/grammatical errors
- phenomenon/phenomena, criterion/criteria
- effect/affect, intend/intent
- occurrence, to occur
- possessive ̳s‘ has an apostrophe (e.g. John‘s book)
- except (…in certain cases)/accept (receive, admit)