Essay Writing in History is an exciting challenge. We start facing this challenge today and although some of you may get the knack of it before others, I assure you: YOU WILL ALL SUCCEED at essay writing sooner or later. 😉
Essay writing is about analysing the many variables playing a role in a historical event and also about evaluating the importance of each of those variables.
Let’s get started. We shall be working on the following essay question:
“Naval rivalry was the main cause of WW1.” How far do you agree with this statement? Explain.
An essay question will always have an OBVIOUS statement. Once you’ve discovered that obvious statement you’re ready for the most difficult bit: UNCOVERING what is NOT obvious in the essay question.
This is the SHAPE of an essay:
In the intro…
Demonstrate understanding of the question. Clarify any key concepts that are mentioned; outline which events and time period you will consider, and why
Signpost the reader through your essay. In other words, give a very brief overview of how you plan to tackle the question. (say what you will do)
In the main body…
Start each paragraph with an argument (analysis). If you read the first sentence of each paragraph when you have finished, you should find that you have a summary of your case.
Proceed to explain this point using evidence (including quotes from historians). The more specific this evidence is, the better.
In the conclusion…
Answer the question by such things as
▪ Showing how your factors link together
▪ Showing how it depends on where / when / at whom you are looking
▪ Challenge the question by tackling any assumptions within it.
Here are some possible introductions to consider: