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How to write good university history essay? watch

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    I have my first 2 essays due in a month so i'm thinking about them already. I just wanted to know if anyone could give me any key points common to good history essays. I've been told to map out the essay in the intro and basically enunciate what each paragraph is going to be, but i have so many points to make i dont see how that is possible.
    any advice?
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    someone has just posted this question and a few people responded have a look and see if that one helps.

    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=313828
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    They have answered it, but not necessarily for university level.

    Right, here goes. The explanation will probably be rubbish but I'll try my best.

    In short, at A-Level you are very concerned with facts and what happenned. At degree level, not so much with these as people's opinions and arguments. Give a set of Historians a set of facts, and they will bicker and argue and all come up with different conclusions. At degree level, it's your job to sift through all these shades of grey, and come up with a good analysis from all of these. And then justify it, using facts, logical reasoning, other historians, and so on.

    Basically, in your reading for the essays you will probably come up with a lot of differing opinions. Every siongle academic will say something slightly or wholly different, and you need to make sense of them all. Personally, I get a big sheet of A3, write the question in the middle, and then brainstorm, then put down each academic's opinion. (I should be doing it right now, but am on TSR procrastinating. Ho hum...) Then I tend to just look at it and cnstruct a synthesis of their views. Basically, it is fairly sure that none of them are completely wrong. Very rarely, if ever, is an historian's entire point of view completely rejected. However, the extent to which their conclusions differ are generally called into question; one may say that factor A was most important, another that whilst factor A did contribute B was far more important, yet another say that, actually, C which was a far slower underlying trend was actually responsible, and then another comes along and says it was D all along and then everyone else is wrong. And then there's an academic catfight in which the hypothesis involving D is torn to pieces.

    But I digress. Basically, you may see one particular large factor running throughout. For example, 4 historians may mention economic factors, whilst another mentions political. From these, it looks like economic factrs are more responsible, as four Historians have found evidence and arguments to back them up. Each four may well have different economic factors held responsible, though, so in this case you could well say that it was economic factors but you hold each equally responsible.

    The other way of approching it is to head a page in each book with the historian's name, and then briefly summarise their arguments. (Book reviews help with this- more on this below.) Then, do two columns, pros and cons, and add in supporting evidence, other historians' opinions, etc., and then see which conclusions have the most support.

    In short, it's hard. Thinking and coming up with your argument is the hardest part of it. I like to spend at least a full day (of the 4 days it takes to produce a 2,000 word, 25 article/book essay- yes, i do one every week, I love my degree...) planning it. I tend to do spider diagrams, collect my thoughts, and just write out random ideas on scraps of paper and then inspiration will generally strike and it will all come together.

    I also like writing the conclusion first. It sounds a bit silly, but often when you're writing the essay you'll change your mind slightly or think of something else. Write the conclusion first, double spaced, or word process it. Then go back to it after you've written the essay, or if you get inspiration, and change it. Even if you don't change it, the hardest part is out of the way first and you know what your essay is working towards, so you can focus it and make it tighter and better.

    A couple of notes on resources. Your university may have subscribed to www.jstor.org. This is a complete lifesaver- a HUGE amount of academic articles are saved on here in PWF form, you can view them online or print them out. If your uni has subscribed you may be able to get onto it for free if the site deptects that you are using a networked computer from your university network, or if not you may need an Athens password.

    Finally, good luck and don't get downhearted! I spent about 40 hours on my first essay (in one week), and read everything I could get my hands on, and it was pretty much rubbish at the end of it, just scraping a 2.2 if that. It's basically taken a year to improve the essay technique and get up to the 2.1-1st boundary where I am now, which is nice. It can take time to get into the differences, and work out what they are. I hope my essay of a post has helped...
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    Yes thanks. It's helped me lol ~5 years later you wrote this. Thank you, you and google if you know what I mean.
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    (Original post by FadeToBlackout)
    They have answered it, but not necessarily for university level.

    Right, here goes. The explanation will probably be rubbish but I'll try my best.

    In short, at A-Level you are very concerned with facts and what happenned. At degree level, not so much with these as people's opinions and arguments. Give a set of Historians a set of facts, and they will bicker and argue and all come up with different conclusions. At degree level, it's your job to sift through all these shades of grey, and come up with a good analysis from all of these. And then justify it, using facts, logical reasoning, other historians, and so on.

    Basically, in your reading for the essays you will probably come up with a lot of differing opinions. Every siongle academic will say something slightly or wholly different, and you need to make sense of them all. Personally, I get a big sheet of A3, write the question in the middle, and then brainstorm, then put down each academic's opinion. (I should be doing it right now, but am on TSR procrastinating. Ho hum...) Then I tend to just look at it and cnstruct a synthesis of their views. Basically, it is fairly sure that none of them are completely wrong. Very rarely, if ever, is an historian's entire point of view completely rejected. However, the extent to which their conclusions differ are generally called into question; one may say that factor A was most important, another that whilst factor A did contribute B was far more important, yet another say that, actually, C which was a far slower underlying trend was actually responsible, and then another comes along and says it was D all along and then everyone else is wrong. And then there's an academic catfight in which the hypothesis involving D is torn to pieces.

    But I digress. Basically, you may see one particular large factor running throughout. For example, 4 historians may mention economic factors, whilst another mentions political. From these, it looks like economic factrs are more responsible, as four Historians have found evidence and arguments to back them up. Each four may well have different economic factors held responsible, though, so in this case you could well say that it was economic factors but you hold each equally responsible.

    The other way of approching it is to head a page in each book with the historian's name, and then briefly summarise their arguments. (Book reviews help with this- more on this below.) Then, do two columns, pros and cons, and add in supporting evidence, other historians' opinions, etc., and then see which conclusions have the most support.

    In short, it's hard. Thinking and coming up with your argument is the hardest part of it. I like to spend at least a full day (of the 4 days it takes to produce a 2,000 word, 25 article/book essay- yes, i do one every week, I love my degree...) planning it. I tend to do spider diagrams, collect my thoughts, and just write out random ideas on scraps of paper and then inspiration will generally strike and it will all come together.

    I also like writing the conclusion first. It sounds a bit silly, but often when you're writing the essay you'll change your mind slightly or think of something else. Write the conclusion first, double spaced, or word process it. Then go back to it after you've written the essay, or if you get inspiration, and change it. Even if you don't change it, the hardest part is out of the way first and you know what your essay is working towards, so you can focus it and make it tighter and better.

    A couple of notes on resources. Your university may have subscribed to www.jstor.org. This is a complete lifesaver- a HUGE amount of academic articles are saved on here in PWF form, you can view them online or print them out. If your uni has subscribed you may be able to get onto it for free if the site deptects that you are using a networked computer from your university network, or if not you may need an Athens password.

    Finally, good luck and don't get downhearted! I spent about 40 hours on my first essay (in one week), and read everything I could get my hands on, and it was pretty much rubbish at the end of it, just scraping a 2.2 if that. It's basically taken a year to improve the essay technique and get up to the 2.1-1st boundary where I am now, which is nice. It can take time to get into the differences, and work out what they are. I hope my essay of a post has helped...
    YOU ARE THE MAN! 12 years later and you've helped me, thank you
 
 
 
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