Skills Hub

Structuring an essay

'Poor structure' is one of the most common comments tutors make on student essays.

The structure of your essay comes from your plan and helps you elaborate your argument. An essay has three main parts: an introduction, a main body and a conclusion.

Take time on planning and structuring your essay and you will find writing it straightforward.

This video suggests how you can structure your introduction.


Your introduction gives your tutor their first impression of your assignment. It establishes the tone and contains the most important information - your argument.

It shows you have understood the question, highlights how you are going to elaborate your argument and which ideas you will focus on.

More from the RLF on introductions: what they do


Main body

The body of your essay contains the evidence you have worked so hard to find. It is the place where you bring out ideas, issues and debates and where you prove your argument. Make sure you allow enough space for your discussion points. It is better to have a few, well-argued points with plenty of evidence and explanation than many points with few details.  

More from the RLF on main bodies: what they do




A conclusion sums up your ideas, showing that you have done what you set out to do in the introduction. It can highlight areas of doubt, where more research needs to be done and it can point towards new ideas or emerging theories you have referred to in the essay.

You should not put new material in a conclusion.

More from the RLF on Conclusions: what they do

Further help

The Royal Literary Fund (RLF) website: why your essay needs structure
English Language for Academic Study Canvas site: introductions, conclusions and paragraphing.
Book a 1-2-1 tutorial with an RLF Fellow here.


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