18: Essay types by specialty

This chapter provides some custom tips for just some of the many academic specialties and degrees that are offered at various universities. While these are not applicable to all of you reading this book, you may find it of interest to see how essays differ from subject to subject. Or, you can see if one section applies to your particular specialty and can help you with your essay assignment.

Chapter 18 contents:

18.1: Writing a law essay

Law is everywhere — from physics to politics, there are laws and ways to break them. It is an exciting career opportunity and offers many areas to specialise in, including the environment, corporate law, animal rights and consumer advocates. Even as you study law, you may find that you have to cover many different areas that pertain to law. Some examples of law essays include:

  • Business law essays
  • Civil law essays
  • Criminal law essays
  • Employment law essays
  • European Union law essays
  • Immigration law essays
  • International law essays
  • Land law and property law essays
  • Procedural law essays
  • Tax essays
  • Trusts and estate law essays

When writing a law paper for university, there are some specific guidelines to keep in mind for a law essay:

  • There is absolutely no room for opinion with a law essay but you do still need to interpret the law and apply it to a certain situation so make sure you understand the question completely before starting.
  • It is very important to use examples and relevant real world scenarios when making your main argument within a law essay.
  • Typically, a law essay tends to follow the same structure as any type of essay, but it may contain a few more paragraphs that add further ideas to substantiate the overall argument.
  • You must use the OSCOLA (The Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities) referencing style or Oxford referencing.

Back to contents

18.2: Writing an architectural essay

As an architectural student at university, you will be expected to write essays on different subject matters - from architects to architectural theory to architectural examples. When writing for your architecture class it is important to remember that like science or English, architecture encompasses a massive number of subjects.
More often than not, you will be writing and analytical essay. These essays require a lot of time for research, and you may even be asked to do some field work to go study actual architectural examples. You may also write a comparative or argumentative essay as well.
There are so many areas in architecture now as the field grows, especially when it comes to more specialities around environmental and climate controlled architecture as well as modern practice and change in how architecture is perceived around the world. It is an exciting time to be studying this discipline.

Here are some things to think about in relation to an architecture essay:

  • You typically will use MLA or Harvard referencing, but you may also be asked to use a reference style that relies on footnotes as this will allow you to provide definitions on architectural terms or further background on the subject as well as the source information.
  • Architectural essays often have pictures or illustrations that need to be included within the essay so be sure to follow our rules for using visuals as part of your essay presentation.
  • It is important to focus on details like including dates and accurate descriptions of buildings as well as technical terms to describe the buildings or architectural styles.
  • Be sure to know how to use architectural theory and apply it to specific examples.

Back to contents

18.3: Writing an art essay

Taking an art course isn't always just about making the art. Sometimes, it's about studying, researching, and ultimately writing about the art. This is even more often the case when studying Art History.

When taking an art class, whether it is an oils class or just concentrating on pencil drawing, your teacher will often show you various techniques in creating art and talk about the artist that is thought to of first used the technique. Other times you will study a specific type of art and learn about the different artists that conducted and in their own way perfected the art. Finally, you will learn about the artists in our history that paved the way for us all by creating a new and unique style of art. When studying Art History, you typically solely study the art, the artists, and the techniques used. When assigned an essay in an art class, you will often be asked to do a lot of research on a specific subject.

These various subjects can include time periods and the art that was influenced by them. For example:

  • What types of art were most common in the Victorian Era?
  • Who is known for famously painting in this era and what did they commonly paint?
  • Discuss their technique and style.
  • Compare it to modern works of art.
  • Did their work influence what we call art today? Why or why not?

With art essays, you may often be asked to include pictures of the art that you are analysing and must carefully explain each feature and technique. Be sure that you connect the art theory as well as any social, economic, environmental or other historical influences that impacted the artist. The more analysis you can provide along these lines illustrate that you truly understand the role of art.

In terms of referencing style, you are most often asked to use MLA but you may use Harvard or even a referencing style that requires footnotes. It is very important to label each visual you include in your art essay as well as what book or website you pulled the image from to attribute it to the appropriate source.

Back to contents

18.4: Writing a criminology essay

If you are working toward a criminology degree, you will be taking many courses that will cover criminal theory or that pertain to the field of criminal justice. By studying criminology, you are studying why people commit crimes as well as how various societies feel crime should be addressed, minimised, and handled in terms of punishment.  It can often involve sociological, psychological, environmental, economic, social and legal factors and issues.

There are a range of sources that are important to use for a criminology essay and often you must be sure to include significant amounts of data or specific case studies of current or past crime to substantiate the criminal theory. There are many online sources to consider, including:

  • The Social Science Information Gateway (SSIG)
  • ISI Web of Knowledge
  • UK Government/Home Office or European Union Government websites
  • BULB Link Catalogue of Internet Resources
  • Websites that contain census data
  • Local police bureau websites

It is also important to ensure that all laws and acts that you mention are correctly dated and spelled out for the reader and that you double-check that you have attributed the right theory to the issue you are analysing or the case you are assessing.

Back to contents

18.5: Writing an environmental science essay

The environment is a hot topic in today's world. From concerns over climate change and changing how big business operates to how consumers can alter their lifestyles to the economic and social implications of negative impacts on the environment to whether sustainable energy is viable, environmental studies is a growing specialty as more students are working towards degrees in this field.

Because there are so many factors involved in environmental change, it is important that you stay focused on your topic and your argument rather than trying to address everything that is possibly included or that influences. Stick to two or three main points and use statistics, current data, and even case studies, which will add interest as well as substantiate your argument or angle. The environment issue can become very heated and emotional, so it is important to leave your opinions out of the essay and stick to reliable sources and the experts in the field, including both science and business.

It is important to use as current research as possible because the issues and perspectives on the environment and climate change are forever changing so what might be three years old in terms of research is no longer relevant. The information around this topic can be very scientific so be sure that you understand it before using it in your essay.

Back to contents

18.6: Writing a religion essay

We live in a free thinking society where people are still looking for answers of which many turn to religion. Whether a Theology major or just attending a religious institution, you will be writing essays on many topics - from religious teachings to interpretation and application of the Scriptures and Church doctrine to moral issues that impact society today.

There are many areas in religion that you can write about in a religion essay:

  • You can write about the historical origins of a particular religion by including the founder, civilisations, and society features of the time.
  • You can analyse the religious beliefs of a specific religion, including their doctrines, how they developed, and how they have evolved. It is important to specifically source a religious book or creed when discussing these beliefs.
  • You can focus on a religion's ethical code in terms of right and wrong and the implications of not following the code in terms of punishment. This may also be a way to address current viewpoints on morality or how society has changed in terms of moral perspectives.
  • There are also opportunities to look at religion when it becomes extreme in terms of its beliefs and practices, such as cults and how this can impact those involved or society as a whole.

When writing a religious essay, remember to ensure that you have spelled the names and practices of all religious figures and rituals correctly. Often, because language has changed over time, there may be different spellings so double check across sources that you have done this correctly.

Back to contents

18.7: Writing a philosophy essay

Philosophy is a complex area of study that covers many unanswered questions about life, its purpose, and what it means to be a human being.  As a philosophy student, you will be asked to write many essays on these subjects, which typically fall into three categories: Exegetical, critical, and constructive. Here are some things to know about each type of philosophy essay:

  • The purpose of the exegetical essay is to explain the argument made by another philosopher that you are currently studying in the class. At this point, you should state your reasons for supporting a particular theory or challenge it. These points should all come across as well thought out and explained.
  • A critical essay does take some points from an exegetical essay, but it focuses more on the theories than the one who claimed them. You should attempt to analyse each and every detail of the theory and come to a conclusion on whether or not the claim is accurate or not. Critical essays are the 'negative' form of essay writing to the constructive, which offers 'positive reinforcement.'
  • The constructive essay is similar to the critical essay in that it does focus on a theory more than the one who came to the conclusion of the theory. However, unlike the critical essay, a constructive essay focuses on supporting that particular theory.

Be sure that you ask your tutor what type of essay you should be writing and ensure that you follow the specific guidelines on referencing style - typically Harvard referencing but sometimes you may use footnotes or APA - to make sure you reference all information appropriately.

Back to contents

18.8: Writing a science essay

There are many types of essays to be written when going into a scientific field. While topics will vary, the essay types will typically not. Here are some common types of science essays that you may have to do for a course:

  • Lab reports are more of a formal report of your scientific findings during an experiment than an actual essay. However, depending on the experiment conducted, a detailed lab report could very well be a book. More than anything be detailed and meticulous in writing down your findings.
  • Expository essays are essentially a fancy way of explaining a scientific process. If your professor assigns you an expository essay on the maturity of larvae, then you will be writing a detailed essay on the larvae maturation from one stage of the metamorphosis to the next.
  • Scientific review essays are a report on specific scientific research and study, proven or disproven. You may very well find yourself developing your own theories against others in the field of science. These types of reports require a lot of research to be sure that your information is accurate and better ensure top marks.
  • Argumentative essays may involve looking at an unproven theory of science and then making your case in support or against the theory. The most meticulous and studious have even made sound arguments on proven theories. And, with the right kind of argumentation, you could very well disprove a very accepted scientific theory.

Scientific essays are a major part of studying any type of scientific field, and you may find yourself working impossible hours to meet your assignment deadlines. However, stick with it and you will be able to get a degree in an exciting and fulfilling scientific field.

Back to contents

18.9: Writing a literature essay

There are many types of literary essays — from comparing and contrasting to literary analysis of a book or poem to understanding patterns in literature over history and everything in between. Here are some tips on each type of literature essay that may get assigned to you:

  • Literary Analysis is a book report on steroids. In the past, you would read a story and then summarise it and its characters. With literary analysis, you need to fully analyse the piece of literature. Take the time to talk about the theme, setting, and tone of the story as well as the characters and how real they seem — maybe even discussing ways you can relate to them. You can even talk about how believable the story is and discuss the writing style of the author.
  • Compare and contrast, or compare or contrast. Let's start with compare and contrast. When doing this type of literature essay, you are going to compare the likeness and differences of two items. This can be something as simple as coffee and tea to something as complex as two pieces of well-known pieces of literature. Often times, you will get to choose what to compare and contrast. When doing this type of literature essay, it's best to concentrate on substance by finding two similar, yet different, things. For instance, you can select two types of literature within the same genre or from the same time period. Or, you can choose to take one well-known and one lesser known book or poem to see how they differ in presentation, theme, and substance.

When you do a literature essay, you typically will use the MLA format for your reference style. It is important to quote from the book or poem but keep this balanced within your presentation to ensure you spend the majority of the literature essay on your argument and illustrate your ability to critically analyse literature.

Back to contents

18.10: Writing a business or economics essay

Whether you plan on working for someone else or you have that entrepreneurial spirit, you want to make the most of your business degree by putting all your knowledge and skills into your business or economics essay. The field of business and economics is so vast, so you may be specialising in communications, marketing, or IT, or you could be looking to focus on leadership skills or you have set your sights on international business.

Whatever you do, make sure that you stick to applying real world examples to existing business theories to illustrate how you might make a decision if faced with something similar. It is important to use all kinds of sources - from older theories to current events. Typically, a business essay will use Harvard referencing system and will require a wide range of sources - from books and journal articles to statistical data and even primary research.

Another subset of business is economics, which can be very specialised and require solid mathematical and critical analysis skills that look at social, legal, and environmental influences as part of understanding economics. These factors should also be included as part of any economics essay argumentation. For example, you may have to write about local and global economies as well as understand how they all influence each other. This requires strong analytical skills and precise reasoning in your essay.

Back to contents

18.11: Writing a nursing essay

As a nursing student, you will be required to write nursing essays that cover key areas of learning that are integral to you becoming a nurse. Depending upon what type of nurse you plan to become, you may be focused on issues affecting children, families, or older people. Or, it could be that you need to examine theories related to mental health, dependency, or rehabilitation.

A common type of nursing essay will include the reflective practice where you will use the essay as a way to reflect on your practice or training on the job. This is where you will combine theoretical knowledge from your courses with real world situations to see what will happen when the two are combined. This enhances the learning experience for you as a nurse and reinforces your training. This type of nursing essay requires careful thought and practice in order to be able to combine the two areas into a cohesive presentation that shows you critically analysed and applied what you have been learning. These skills will be especially practical once you become a nurse because you will be asked on a nearly daily basis to do the same thing in reports to a hospital or surgery practice.

Back to contents

18.12: Writing a media essay

When studying media and communications in a university, you will be at some point assigned an essay to more personally express your opinion on various subjects that relate to the field of media. These types of essays need to be written very strongly with all arguments or attempts at persuasion being backed by accurate information. The same goes for informative types of media essays. There are many number of topics to choose from when writing a media essay, but it is important to find one a single point to focus on.

The first thing we are going to discuss is choosing the topic of a media essay. No matter what type of media essay it is that you must produce, you need to be sure you have or are capable of having a very firm grasp on the concept of the essay. When writing, it is important that you stay focused on the topic.

When writing a media essay, you will probably be given the choice of topics, but the type of essay will likely still be assigned to you. Typically, these essays are informative from a journalistic style or argumentative perspective. However, there are also many other types of media-based essays that can range from a blog style to a critical review of a media product, such as a movie, album, etc.

  • When writing the informative essay as stated above, be sure that you know what you are talking about. Check your facts and cite your sources. Don't risk your grade on an assumption or opinion. Informative essays are not opinionated pieces; they state the facts and that is all. This could relate to a specific kind of issue in the media with rights to free speech, how the media reports information, intellectual property and other relevant topics.
  • When writing an argumentative style of media essay, you get a little more leeway for opinionated remarks. Though you are still expected to state the facts, if you are arguing why a specific genre of music is more superior, for example, you are more than welcome to explain how the one you prefer is easier on the ears than the other, but you must back those claims up with facts. You could do this by explaining the technicality of playing a classical instrument like the violin and how it takes skill and talent to perform with it, making it superior to another type of less complicated musical instrument or device.

Back to contents

18.13: Writing an education essay

Education is a broad topic and it essentially can cover every single aspect of anything and everything related to the subject. When studying education whether in hopes of becoming a teacher or university professor, you will undoubtedly be assigned many education essays.

In order to not be overwhelmed by the sheer broadness of the topic, your first step to successfully writing an educational essay is to single out a particular topic and focus on that in your writing. Typically, these topics are provided by your tutor but you also may have to think of one yourself that applies to your areas of study or a relevant research subject.

The amount of topics to choose from in educational writing is essentially endless. These can include:

  • The learning experience in education
  • The education system itself
  • Types of learning theories
  • Administrative issues
  • Child development strategies
  • Economic, social, and legal issues

However, the styles of essays you can write on education are not so vast that we can't cover them here and now. The types of essays are limited to informative, argumentative, or persuasive. Here is what is involved in each one when it comes to an education essay:

  • When writing an informative educational essay, it is important for you to get your facts straight as you want to leave the reader feeling confident in the validity of what they just read. Take no more than three key ideas related to that subject and provide examples and theoretical evidence to back each one.
  • Argumentative educational essays are very different than the informative kind. As with any argumentative essay, you are trying to explain why you think something is better or more effective than its alternative. For instance, arguing for or against the installation of solar panels at local schools is a very viable topic choice. You place your argument and state the reasons and facts that support it in hopes of swaying the reader to see your way.
  • Lastly, we have persuasive essays, which are very similar to writing an argumentative essay. In the end, you are hoping that your persuasive educational essay will sway the reader's thoughts on a specific educational subject. When writing this type of essay, be sure to point out what makes what you are supporting superior in every way.

Back to contents

18.14: Writing a film studies essay

When you sign up for a film studies course, you can expect to be studying a wide range of films, theories, and technical aspects. You are expected to take notes and to analyse the different styles of filming and videography. And, to ensure you are learning everything you need to know, you will be writing quite a few film studies essays.

Like English essays when writing a film studies essay, you actually have quite a lot to choose from (or be assigned to) when it comes to types of film studies essays. We are going to cover the most common and briefly explain each of them in hopes of leaving you with a better grasp on what is expected of you when you are assigned to write them.

  • Critical Analysis: The critical analysis essay centres on analysing a film and then writing about its strengths and weaknesses. If you find yourself to be good at this type of work, then you may be well suited as a film critic in the future.
  • Cultural Impact: While your professor may have a different name for this type of essay, it doesn't change what the essay is typically written on. You can often take the entire film industry and write how it affects our lives and such, but you can also take a particular film (controversial films often work well) and discuss its individual effect on our culture and everyday lives.
  • Propaganda Film Essay: This is an essay that focuses on the biasness of a film created to alter the public's opinion on a political figure or matter. Often times, you will discuss the ways that the film attacks the other side and whether or not you agree with their methods etc.
  • Film Histories Essay: Sometimes, you will be assigned a type of film genre and sometimes a specific film that you might even get to choose, but you could also be asked to look at the history of film. When looking at cinematic history, remember to look at how it has changed over the years and consider in what ways it has evolved for the better or worse.

Film studies essays may seem like a big deal and as with all assignments they should surely not be taken lightly, but if you approach them the right way, then you will find they are far less daunting than they first seem.

Back to contents

18.15: Writing a mathematics essay

Mathematics seems like it would be more numbers than words, but, as it turns out, you will most likely still be asked to write a maths essay whether that be on a particular theorem or involves an issue where mathematics plays a role in developing a critical solution. Here are some tips to follow:

  • When writing a mathematical essay, treat it like any other essay. Read the instructions and make sure you understand the requirements and what is expected of you.
  • Start your essay in a clear and compelling way that follows the suggestions outlined in this book and provide specific examples and calculations as part of your explanation. Just be sure to integrate it well into the discussion and label everything.
  • If you are given the choice of a topic, pick a topic that you already understand or are interested in. Many times, mathematics is already a complicated subject to grasp, so selecting a topic that you know little about in hopes of learning about it while researching could lead to you receiving poor marks. Stick with what you know and you will be able to write more clearly and with confidence.
  • Typically, there are multiple types of mathematics essays; however, when it comes to mathematics, the procedures for solving a problem tend to be absolute in the way they are done. That said, argumentative essays are typically not assigned, but informative essays tend to be the structure. When writing an informative math essay, you should primarily concentrate on explaining the facts of your selected topic. These facts can be anything from the steps in solving algebra to explaining the history of a famous mathematician like Einstein. Like any other essay through good research and attention to detail one can put together both an informative and entertaining mathematical essay that is surely to secure top marks!

Back to contents