In the BAWE classification, an Essay is a piece of writing which develops an argument. When you write an Essay, you need to show that you can construct a coherent argument and employ critical thinking skills. You need to support your argument with evidence.

Essays can be structured in many different ways, but they all include your thesis (a statement of the case you are making) and arguments based on evidence to support your thesis, logically organised. You will often be expected to include evidence against your thesis. This will be followed by a conclusion.

exposition discussion challenge factorial consequential commentary
thesis issue challenge state state text(s) introduction
supporting arguments alternative arguments arguments contributory factors ensuing factors comments
restate thesis final position thesis summary thesis summary thesis summary

In an expository Essay, you would start by presenting your thesis – as a statement of the case you can make based on the evidence and your arguments. This would be followed by the evidence to support your thesis.

Whereas, in a discussion Essay, you would start by presenting the issue - the problem you have to solve. You would then explain and discuss the evidence and different points of view regarding the issue. You would finish by comparing and contrasting the different arguments and making a choice - your final position.

In a challenge Essay, you are challenging a given theory by showing where it is weak and proposing a better theory. You would start by introducing the theory you are challenging. You would then analyse and evaluate it to show where it is weak and propose a better alternative.

Factorial Essays and consequential Essays are similar. Both are organised around the facts that either lead to or are consequences of a state of affairs. In a factorial Essay, you discuss the facts that lead to or cause a state of affairs. In a factorial Essay, you would start by describing the state of affairs you are interested in. You would then present the factors that led to the state of affairs. These would be grouped in some way, analysed and evaluated. You would finish by concluding about, for example, the importance of the factors you have discussed.

Whereas, in a consequential Essay, you discuss the facts that result from a state of affairs. You would again start by describing the state of affairs you are interested in. You would then present the factors that resulted from or were caused by the state of affairs. These would be grouped in some way, analysed and evaluated. You would finish by concluding about, for example, the importance of the state of affairs in contributing to the consequences you have discussed.

The final Essay type is the commentary Essay. These Essays would normally focus on texts. Your introduction would therefore introduce the text(s). You would then follow this with a series of comments that analyse and evaluate the text(s) given. You may be required to compare and contrast the texts. You would conclude by summarising your comments.

Examples of Essays include:

  • Exposition Essay - thesis, supporting arguments, restate thesis
  • Discussion Essay - issue, alternative arguments, final position
  • Challenge Essay - challenge, arguments, thesis
  • Factorial Essay - state, contributory factors, summary thesis
  • Consequential Essay - state, ensuing factors, summary thesis
  • Commentary Essay - introduction, comments, summary

Try the following tasks to learn more about writing Essays.

Task 1

Read the question and the first two paragraphs of a law essay – Example 3. On the basis of this, identify the essay type.

Exercise

Task 2

A typical discussion essay has the following stages: Issue; Alternative Arguments; Final Position. Divide the paragraphs in Example 3 into these stages.

Exercise

Task 3

In paragraph 2 of Example 3 the author divides the arguments into the following sections:

  • historical background on freedom of contract
  • reasons why this freedom may have been curtailed
  • the current position.

Decide which paragraphs contain that relevant information.

Exercise

Task 4

Explanations are about giving facts, and if you get the facts right, you will get a good mark. However, when you write an Essay, you need to show that you can construct a coherent argument. Therefore good organisation is essential. In Example 3, paragraphs 2, 4, 6 and 9 are largely organisational. Fill in the gaps to show the language used.

Exercise

Task 5

The question in Example 3 asks whether modern contract law interferes too much with contractual freedom. What is the author's answer to that question?

Exercise

Task 6

Read the question from a linguistics Essay – Example 4. On the basis of this, identify the essay type.

Exercise

Task 7

A typical discussion Essay has the following stages: Issue; Alternative Arguments; Final Position. Divide the paragraphs in Example 4 into these stages.

Exercise

Download