Argument

  • An argument is your stance, claim, or angle on the assignment question. It provides your own answer to the question and is backed up by the evidence you use. Rather than just writing everything you know about the topic, having an argument means you have taken a particular stand-point and are forming a reasoned judgement about the issues in the question. At university-level, the arguments you form are rarely a simple yes / no, or right / wrong answer. 

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    Your answer to the question

    Your argument is your answer or main message in response to the question. You have to first identify what this is, organise your structure to convey it, and communicate your viewpoints on the evidence. See this guide for an overview of constructing an argument:

    Structure

    Argument and structure are closely linked. If you don’t have a clear structure, your argument will get lost. You can think of your argument like a river running from your introduction to your conclusion and providing the flow to your assignment. Watch this video for more on the river structure:

    More than for and against

    Many people think that an argument involves presenting the points for and against an issue. However, this is missing the crucial element of your own judgement. An argument involves you assessing the relative strength of the differing views and coming to a standpoint about them. See this table for the difference between just presenting ideas and forming a critical judgement:

    Sum it up

    A good test of whether you have identified your argument is to see if you can convey it in a short paragraph. You can then use this to help structure your assignment and check whether what you are writing is relevant to conveying this main message. See our page on planning for more strategies to help get an overview of your assignment and identify your argument:

    Your voice

    To convey your argument, you need to comment on the sources you use and show the judgement you have formed about them, not just report what other people have written. See this guide with examples of where your own voice comes in: