ElleRussell
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Hiiiii,

I'm in my first year of uni and i've been set my first History and Politics essay (what were the major causes of WW2). Obviously I know what the causes were but i'm struggling with a good structure. I want to aim for a strong 2:1. Any tips?!
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ageshallnot
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(Original post by AndrewGrace)
Obviously as this is an essay on causation you need to establish the factors on a scale of most important-least important, you should be looking to address 3 or 4 main factors (depending on word count)

Introduction:

-Should be argumentative right from the off- Opening statement should be .... was the main factor behind WW2. This clearly seen in event A and B which has the greatest impact on ...

-Should introduce the other factors ... and ... also had an evident impact on the beginning of WW2 as evidenced by event C and D, although the impact was not as great as (original argument)

-Should address the least important factor : e.g. Lastly ... should be considered but its impact is negligable.

-Should introduce the historiography surrounding the topic e.g. The historiography around causes of WW2 is dominated by (Orthodox/Revisionist/Marxist) perspective of which ... is a key writer, however the (Other historiographical perspectives) should also be considered. Ultimately (Whichever perspective links closest to your argument) is the most accurate as supported by the factual evidence used to form the basis of my argument

Main Paragraphs should then follow the aforementioned scale of importance:

P1-Most important factor
P2-Second most important factor
etc.

Each paragraph follows the classic structure
-Point
-Evidence
-Explanation
-Historiography
-Evaluation
-Link back to the question

Which quotes/sources while it is fine to just directly insert the quote it is better if you interpret what is being said and put it into your own words- e.g. this argument is supported by the key points of .... thesis which suggests that ... led to ...

Conclusion:
-Summarise what you have said (Do not repeat directly)
-Re-itterate your argument
-Provide a final closing statement
Are undergraduate essays nowadays always this prescriptive? If so, I find it a profoundly depressing development.
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AndrewGrace
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(Original post by ageshallnot)
Are undergraduate essays nowadays always this prescriptive? If so, I find it a profoundly depressing development.
not always, some questions allow for a less prescriptive approach, but given that this is an essay on causation to follow a different approach would perhaps result in an essay that doesn't really get to the point and just rambles around different ideas.
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ageshallnot
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(Original post by AndrewGrace)
not always, some questions allow for a less prescriptive approach, but given that this is an essay on causation to follow a different approach would perhaps result in an essay that doesn't really get to the point and just rambles around different ideas.
I have fundamental problems with the approach you advocate if applied to degree-level History. While it is the accepted method for ticking all the boxes and piling up marks at A-level, surely something more than churning out the same repetitive structure is required as an undergraduate.

For a start, why must the opening statement in the introduction of an essay be - in effect - the conclusion. An introduction can be used to define terms, lay out the context, or lead the reader towards the path you are going to take. But giving away the answer in the first sentence seems to me to be a very unsubtle approach.

By pursuing the structure you lay out above, doesn't the essay become repetitive in several ways? For example, your introduction states the three or four main points you want to make. Then what happens? You spend the bulk of the essay repeating those arguments and adding flesh to their bones. However, any sense of originality, of producing something new, has been spoiled by giving it away in the first paragraph.

Having read a few essays written to this format, another area of repetition appears to be in the constant linking back to the question. If the introduction starts along the lines of 'the main factor in causing WW2 was XXXX', and the second paragraph begins with exactly the same statement, as a reader I would be banging my head on the table if that paragraph then concluded 'and that is why XXXX is the most important cause of WW2'. My reaction would be 'Yes, I get it. Enough, already!'

My feelings would be exacerbated by constructing each of the main paragraphs in the same way. Why not be rebellious and start one with a key argument between historians, for example, or even a pithy quote from one of them, rather than relegating this to fourth place in the 'classic' structure?

While I understand that the OP was (is?) having trouble with their first essay, I would be extremely disappointed if this approach would get them a 'strong 2.1' if continued over their three years at university. This structure is obviously de rigeur at A-level, but there should be a qualitative difference in a degree. It is all very well knowing some 'rules', but surely it is more important to know when to break them?
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ageshallnot
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(Original post by ElleRussell)
Hiiiii,

I'm in my first year of uni and i've been set my first History and Politics essay (what were the major causes of WW2). Obviously I know what the causes were but i'm struggling with a good structure. I want to aim for a strong 2:1. Any tips?!
The post by EloiseStar in this thread http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show....php?t=2966269 is quite useful.
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