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Specific essay writing tasks


Evaluative Essay tasks - these are usually the most common type of essay task. An evaluative essay question usually requires you to analyse, critique, or investigate a particular topic and then evaluate what you have read. Evaluative essays require you to move beyond simply discussing the ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘where’ (i.e. just describing your given topic). You need to think about the “why” and “how” of the essay topic and present arguments, supported by research, to back-up your analysis.
Reflective Essay tasks - these require you to reflect on your own knowledge, experiences, attitudes, beliefs, and observations and think about how they link to theory, research and/or practice. Reflective essays are generally written in the ‘first person’, as they are asking you to personally reflect on the particular topic and address the task from your own unique perspective. The following resources provide more information on reflective essay writing:
Comparative Essay tasks - these require you to investigate two or more topics and ‘compare’ and ‘contrast’ them (i.e. examine both similarities and differences between the topics). Based on your research, you will then determine your overall essay ‘position’ deciding whether the two (or more) topics corroborate, contradict, mirror, or extend each other. The nature of how the topics relate to each other is the basis of a comparative essay. The following resources provide more information on comparative essay writing:
Case Studies - these tasks require you to contemplate a realistic problem-based scenario or example and identify and analyse the main issues. Case studies require that you link your analysis to academic research, theory,  and/or practice. Typically, a case study essay question will detail specific issues or areas needed to be investigated and addressed in relation to the given scenario, in addition to a recommended ‘response’ (to the problem-based scenario) based on your analysis. A case study is a way of testing how well you really understand information taught to you, because:
  • You have to select what is relevant to the case  from what you’ve learnt; and
  • You have to apply this to an actual situation.
HINT: Always make sure that you focus on the case itself, and only use relevant information to discuss the issues you are analysing in the case study. For more information on writing case studies, CLICK HERE.

CLICK HERE to access the University of Manchester Academic Phrasebank to help you with sentence starters for these different types of academic writing tasks.
 
Information included here is adapted from the following sources:

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