A template for university essay introductions

An article in the Guardian entitled How to write better essays: ‘nobody does introductions properly’ has, toward the end, a template for any essay that produces an ideal introduction in under 100 words.  I was not convinced.  He says:

Introductions are the easiest things in the world to get right and nobody does it properly,” Squirrel says. “It should be ‘Here is the argument I am going to make, I am going to substantiate this with three or four strands of argumentation, drawing upon these theorists, who say these things, and I will conclude with some thoughts on this area and how it might clarify our understanding of this phenomenon.’ You should be able to encapsulate it in 100 words or so. That’s literally it.

I was going to strongly disagree and came up with an example to prove it, but failed.  I took his template:

Here is the argument I am going to make, I am going to substantiate this with three or four strands of argumentation, drawing upon these theorists, who say these things, and I will conclude with some thoughts on this area and how it might clarify our understanding of this phenomenon.

and tried turning it into a very simple (and silly) introduction to prove it cannot be done in 100 words:

I am going to argue that in visual perception black is actually white.  I am going to substantiate this with the claims that black is black, white is white and in between are shades of grey.  I am going to refer to Tom, Dick and Harry who say black is dark, white is light and there is a sliding scale between them.  I will conclude with some thoughts on how reading 50 Shades of Grey will pass some time but it will not clarify our understanding of optical perception in humans.

But that’s only 91 words.  He might actually be right.  His template might be a good one.

Oops, I forgot the “Never use the first person” rule that applies in some subjects.  Second attempt:

This essay argues that rodents in the visual media don’t always like aged pressed milk curds.  This will substantiated with examples from old cartoons, feature films and modern digital cinematography, drawing on productions by Fred Quimby, Walt Disney and Pixar.  Their works demonstrate titbit-laden mousetraps, no dairy products and toy rodents who don’t eat at all.  The essay will conclude that it depends on context but that there is an age to cheesiness correlation, and it might be worth watching some Dreamworks videos for further research.

How’s that for a comprehensive media studies TMA introduction in 86 words?

I’m convinced.  What do you think of this method?

5 thoughts on “A template for university essay introductions

  1. Feedback on an introduction written in the above style on an essay from my university tutor:
    “Interesting opening I look forward to reading on…”

  2. A327, TMA04.

    “This essay explores how far change has occurred in religion in Western Europe in the context of secularisation and in the post-war modernising period of 1945 to 1968. It will consider changes in German religious political activity, the Catholic Church’s involvement in state activity, Dutch social ‘pillarisation’, the sexual liberation of the 1960s and the Vatican’s response, personal belief and how the Catholic Church has responded to modernisation. It draws on the theories of Steve Bruce, Callum Brown, Grace Davie and Clive Field who say modernisation led to secularisation, that religion was in crisis, that people still believe even though they do not show it and that what change there has been has actually been gradual. It concludes that religion changes with society and church attendance may yet return to previous numbers.”

    132 words.

  3. DD301, TMA01:

    “This essay will argue global relations have had no positive influence regarding opiate production or distribution. It will examine the impact of the war on drugs on illegal opiate distribution, the unfair distribution of medicinal opiates, monopolistic practices of developed nations, how illegal opiate production is considered criminal and the outcomes of these activities. It will conclude the war on drugs as an experiment in using global relations to influence opiate production and distribution appears to have been a complete failure.”

    81 words.

  4. DD301, TMA02:

    “This essay argues that conventional criminology would be substantially enhanced by extending it to consider social harm rather than just law-breaking, albeit with some problems remaining. This will be substantiated by drawing on the theories of Becker, Whyte, Tombs, Hillyard and others to argue ‘crime’ is a poor definition of wrong-doing and that those in power manipulate the law and even criminology for their own benefit and protection. It concludes by highlighting a potentially significant flaw in criminological theory whereby it relies on state violence for its underpinning rather than human rights.”

    92 words.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.