Session 11: Academic Presentation and Havard Referencing

5 Essay Writing Tips

1) Use quality ingredients/sources

  • Books

  • Google Scholar

  • Academic journals/magazines

2) Have something to say

  • You're academic voice; commentary, analysis, insights, with reasoning and examples, and expressed in formal, discipline-specific language

  • Critically evaluate a range of perspectives, perform your own analysis and make a judgement

  • Figure out what you want to say; shape the argument before you plan and write

3) Hone your structure

  • Introduction: 5-10; broad overview and key themes, and signpost how you will answer the question

  • Main body: chain of paragraphs, one main topic per paragraph, referring to literature throughout and linking between paragraphs for flow

  • Conclusion: 10-15%; summarise key points and offer final answer to the question (thesis)

  • Its easier to achieve a well structured review if you plan by mapping out your topic, fleshing it out with quotes and covert it into a bullet-point draft

4) Draft then redraft

  • Draft, review, edit

  • editing content: answering the brief, using theory throughout, depth over breadth; structure: logical flow of points/topics, paragraphs well formed, coherent intro and conclusion; clarity: being specific, giving detail where needed, concise clear sentences

  • paragraph structure: point, evidence (expand, refer to literature through quotes/paraphrase), explain (offer commentary and critique, contextualise within your discussion, link last sentence to overall discussion and bridge to the next one)

5) Polish your tone

  • Tackle your tone in the second draft when you edit

  • Build a list of key vocabulary from the lectures

  • Avoid the use of first and second person

  • Aim for the style you see in readings

  • Use the Academic Phrasebank


​You must reference whenever you directly quote from a source, paraphrase from a source and refer to a visual source. After the main body (images embedded, labelled with creator, year and title), comes the reference list (text-based sources, alphabetical by surname), and then image list (references for images used).

In-Text Reference or Citation

  • Inserted into the main body of the essay

  • Signposts reader to the End-Text reference

  • (Mayra, 2008, p.76)

  • Surname only or organisation if no author; include page number for quotes from books; either before or after the citation


  • Taking the idea of an author and re-phrasing it in your own words, demonstrating an understanding and interpretation of the concepts

  • (Stewart, 2020)

In-Text Images

  • Directs the reader to the image using the notation (Fig. xx) or (Illus. xx)

  • Images should have a caption/citation e.g. Fig 1 Diane Arbus (1974) Xmas tree in a living room [Photograph]


  • ​Every cited source plus additional reading

  • Listed alphabetically by surname or organisation

  • No numbers, no lists by source type

  • Books: Cobley, P. (2014) Narrative. 2nd End, London: Routledge.

  • Edited books: Danesi, M. (2010) 'Semiotics of media and culture' in Cobley, P. (ed.) The Routledge Companion to Semiotics. London: Routledge. pp.xx-xx.

  • Journal articles: Conway, S. and Elphinstone, B. (2013) 'Towards game world studies', Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds, 11 (3), pp.547-560.

  • Websites: Grinnell College (2020), Subcultures and Sociology. Available at https:// (Accessed: 4 May 2021)

  • Images from a website: Fig. 1 Arbus, D. (1974) Xmas tree in a living room [Photograph] Available at: http:// (Accessed: 14 October 2018)

  • Images from a book: Fig. 1 Arbus, D. (1974) Xmas tree in a living room [Photograph] in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2003) Diane Arbus: revelations. London: Jonathon Cape p.43

My essay writing skills are currently quite rough due to the fact I haven't had to write one in about five years. My initial thoughts as to my writing process is to do the reading, take down notes and quotations, write a brief essay plan, use point, evidence, explain to write my paragraphs and then read it over and make improvements as many times as necessary.

Aspects of academic writing I would like to improve is my understanding and use of proper language which I will try and develop using any vocabulary used in the lectures as well as the Academic Phrasebank suggested.

I think that writing this essay will help me to develop the skills needed for next years dissertation because it is sort of like a practice run and I can hopefully get to grips with not only using the special language and referencing properly but also sourcing the relevant academic material and actually understanding it enough to paraphrase it.