Written assignments

Essay Writing

Essays are a common form of assessment in many tertiary-level disciplines. The ability to construct good essays involves understanding the process and the conventions of essay writing.

This section will show you how to break down an essay question, and how to plan and structure your essay.

Instruction words on assignments

Essay Structure

An example of an essay plan



Manchester phrasebank

Writing effective paragraphs

Editing and proofreading

60-second study tips

Instruction words

Reflective Writing

Reflective writing is about using the ‘I’ in reflection.

Watch the video below for a quick introduction to reflective writing.

Reflective Writing 

Reflective writing is an activity in which you provide a personal response to an event, experience or situation.

In academic contexts, when you evaluate the experience and explain how you have been changed or influenced by it, you need to provide support using academic theory and other people’s ideas. Finally, you also need to consider what implications the experience might have for similar tasks in the future.

The following diagram summarises the features of reflective essays:

Source: Read, 2019

Reflective Writing with examples

Research proposals

In your university studies, you may be asked to submit a research proposal on a topic related to the subject you study. You will need to establish a clear purpose for your proposal. This involves stating at least one research question, which is  a statement of what you expect to find.

The features of a research proposal are:

  • Having a clear context for your investigation
  • Addressing a gap in the literature or field
  • Having a clear methodology or research design

Structure of a research proposal


A critique is a systematic way of objectively reviewing a piece of research to highlight

both its strengths and weaknesses, and its applicability to practice.

The following guides can help you in your critique writing:

Writing a critique

Framework for an article critique

Critiquing research articles

Literature Review

A literature review brings together arguments from multiple sources to make a case for research proposal or new investigation.

Click here for a video that summarises the main features of literature review:

Getting started with your literature review

What is a literature review

Stand-alone literature review

Literature reviews for undergraduates


A report is a specific form of writing that gives a full account of what has been observed, done or investigated in a laboratory or experimental study. It has structural elements not found in essays and is visually distinguishable from essays. It also tests your ability to describe, explain and analyse results of an experiment or study. The following guides will show you different types of reports:

General report writing

WMS reports

Scientific report structure

Case studies

Video on case studies