Essays / Theses


What is the difference between an essay or a thesis/dissertation? These are all written exercises required for different purposes by academic institutions. Each institution has regulations governing the length, structure and form of the specified exercise. Generally, essays form part of a taught course and are required on given topics related to course material. The requirement, to be written within a matter of weeks, is for a well-structured piece of writing that demonstrates understanding of the subject in question. Theses or dissertations are a critical, perhaps, the sole element in higher degrees. As such they may involve anything from one year for many Masters programmes to three to five years for a PhD. The expectation is for something original in relation to the chosen subject based on pre-existing research and common knowledge. All require pre-reading and research on the chosen topic. All require sifting through what may be confusing, or even contradictory research. All require a clear focus on what to write. Preparing well for essays should enhance a student’s ability to engage in post-graduate writing requirements.