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    Hi, I'm in my second year studying Psychology and usually get 2:2's on essay's. One of my lecturer's commented that I don't put enough of my own thought in. So how can structure an essay, giving equal balance to the theory and also your own interpretation of the question? For example, for questions with where you have to: "Discuss problems", "compare theories" and "Discuss the development of theory x, and the contribution it has had..."

    I have just realised this year (especially for essay based sujects) that you can't get by, merely by just regurgitating the facts-a lot of independent thought is required. Unfortunately, they don't get you to do this at A-Level.
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    To put some more of my own thoughts into an essay, generally speaking, I'd approach it like this.

    Part 1. Pick one theorist argument vs other theorist argument - so Theory A says...... but counter to Theory A... Theory B says this. For each, list the key academics/theorists/proponents and their arguments for the theory.

    Part 2. Address the criticisms that exist for each theory. This could be other authors who have said this, that and the other about the theories you've highlighted. This phase is you essentially distilling information and "creating" an argument for picking the theory Part 3 below.

    Part 3. Pick the theory you agree with the most. State why you have chosen to go down this route, backed up by evidence you've read - (real world cases can help here). This will re-address some points in Part 2 above but should emphasise the fact that you've thought critically about the theory. You'll need to argue against the theory you've rejected as well - why it isn't relevant etc.

    It can really help if you quote outside prescribed materials. You want to give the lecturer something different instead of regurgitating exactly what is in your course materials. (I would look at footnotes in papers etc - you'll find some interesting snippets here you can expound on)


    Just my 2 cents
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    1. Don't just see yourself as looking at the views of people and then seeing which one you agree with the most, rather form your own viewpoint. Don't just produce a book report of theories X Y and Z.

    2. Eliminate unnecessary words/phrases, have no abbreviations, never use personal pronouns, eliminate all passive sentences, use words/phrases like consequently/however/on the other hand/etc very sparingly, if at all.

    3. Be assertive, don't be overly cautious otherwise it will undermine your argument.
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    I do English, and we're taught that every critic/theorist whose work we include, we have to challenge them in some way. We should NEVER fully agree with someone about something.

    So we always say something like

    'however, I would go even further, and say that...'
    'however, Freud's theory does not fully explain...'
    'this approach is undermined by the existence of...'

    etc.
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    As well what the others have mentioned, originality is key. Try not to approach your essay in the obvious way that everyone else will be doing. Be a little different so your essay stands out amongst the rest - read a little more in depth, make references to something relevant which may have happened in the past, don't always agree with the question. Approaching it from a different angle will show original thought just as well as those methods the others have mentioned above.
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    Be imaginative. An unorthodox essay will be far more readable than a regurgitated bit of theory, even if you do include your own insights/thoughts.
 
 
 
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