Coursework Writing Guide
The realm of academia is filled with synonymous words that are not really synonymous in technicality. Terminologies and distinct meanings attached to them form the world of academics. Assessments situations for university students, such as an assignment, term paper, response paper, reflective essay, coursework, dissertation, and exam, are those few words that get tossed in their direction time and again. However, the nature of these assessments might be similar, but never the same.
In this article, we will understand “How to write Coursework.” A few points discussed in the article are the following:
- Difference between coursework and assignment
- Types of coursework
- How to write coursework
- Tips and Mistakes to avoid
Let us dive into its details. We aim to cite necessary examples whenever and wherever possible to be more helpful.
Difference between Coursework and Assignment
|Time Boundation||Coursework is time taking.||An assignment is time-specific and bounded.|
|Allotment time||It is given at the beginning of the course and is expected to be turned in by the end of the semester or year.||It is given on a specific topic and comes with a stricter and shorter deadline.|
|Reflection value||Includes and reflects upon all that has been read in that particular subject.||Typically it is based on a single module or a much shorter topic.|
|Methodology||Includes both primary and/or secondary data.||Mostly includes only secondary data.|
|Word Limit||The word limit is higher.||The word limit is restricted.|
|Type of Study||It is a more holistic study.||It is a precise and topic based study.|
Different Types of Coursework in Social Sciences
A dissertation is a project that is often a requirement to get any degree (undergraduate, postgraduate, and/or Ph.D.). A dissertation typically permits students to present their results to answer a question of their choosing. The project aims to put students’ independent research skills to the test. Students work under a supervisor, but their role is limited. They only provide basic guidance and mentorship, but the dissertation is mostly independent research done by the student from the first to the last submission.
Term Papers consist of an introduction, body, conclusion, and a bibliography. The aim is to present a key idea or a question and then use the following paragraphs to support your argument. There is a word limit set mostly ranging between 3000 to 5000 words. The terminology “term paper” signifies that this assessment is due at the conclusion of the semester or year. It is similar to a review of what you’ve learned. You offer your results in a formal presentation accompanied by extensive research.
A research paper is a structured piece of in-depth research. It constitutes an abstract, introduction, discussion and debates, results, conclusion, and a reference list. It is a highly formal work that requires strict instructions and proper citations and formatting styles. It can be as long as a term paper or longer, depending on the depth of one’s research and writing ability. This writing can also contribute to the larger debates in any discipline by adding to the existing literature or highlighting a research gap.
Also Read: How to write Research Proposals
How to Write Coursework
As mentioned above, various types of coursework can be allotted throughout the course of a degree. For our better understanding, let us take the example of writing a dissertation and how to go on about it. Although the same steps are applied for all sorts of coursework, they need refinement according to the requirements.
Step 1: Do your research
Find a topic that you are interested in. This interest can be vague and broad, just something that excites you. Doing a dissertation is a long-term commitment. Therefore, it is best to choose a topic that will remain exciting and promising even after a long time period. Thus, do your preliminary research based on an area of your interest.
For example, let us assume that the area of interest is Food.
Step 2: Narrow it down
After preliminary research, you acquire some knowledge about your area of interest. The more you read, the more well-versed you become with it. Choosing a narrower topic for a dissertation is important because of limited resources (such as time, word limit, finances). Narrowing down allows you to perform more quality research because you focus on specifics rather than digressing everywhere.
For example, you have now narrowed your area and think that the Globalization of Food can be an interesting topic to study.
Step 3: Finalize your topic
Finalizing your topic means narrowing it further down to a specific research question or hypothesis. The final topic should be an exact version of your area of interest. This final topic will be the one you will work towards for your whole dissertation. A less ambitious topic can be seen as an excuse to work less. In contrast, an over-ambitious topic can mean failure to ever complete your dissertation. Therefore, ensure that the topic you end up with is within reach of your academic level and resources.
For example, you finalize your topic as “A Study of Globalized Food Trends in XYZ University”.
Step 4: Write an abstract and get it checked
Now that you have finalized your topic, the next step is to write a brief abstract of around 1000 words, telling the supervisor your topic. In this short abstract, it is your job to convince the supervisor that your topic is worth studying. Let them know what inspired you to pick this topic, how it is relevant to your discipline, and how you plan to complete this project. Once your supervisor approves your dissertation topic, you can dive into the rigorous work.
For example, in your abstract, you can cover the following points:
- Why did you choose globalized food and its trends as your area of interest?
- How does it contribute to the larger discussions around the sociology of food?
- How do you plan to complete this research (methodology)?
- What are your research aims and questions?
- A timeline telling how you anticipate dividing your time.
Step 5: Read existing literature
You now know your topic, so you must start reading about it. Explore different scholarly works that are related to your topic. Reading the existing literature will place your dissertation topic in the continuum of some ongoing debate. It will either guide you to find a research gap within the theme, or it might provide you with a newer lens to look at the same things said and done before. When it comes to reading, no fixed number of texts can suffice. Therefore, it is upon the student to decide how much and how long they want to read and research to compile existing literature.
Also Read: Literature Review
Step 6: Decide your methodology
It is your dissertation, and you will determine how to collect the data for your research. There are multiple ways to collect data, which can be broadly categorized into two types: primary data and secondary data. You can choose which method suits your study the most. You can even mix different methods if you think that’s the best. The sort of methodology you allocate will also affect the data you finally collect. Once you are clear with your methodology, start collecting data.
For example, for the purpose of your research, you can use a mixed-method approach where you use Survey Questionnaires and Interviews to get the most representative data. The survey will allow you to collect a large response rate, whereas by interviewing university students, you can gather more specific and subjective answers.
Step 7: Start writing
At this point, you have all that you need. You have done your literature research, and you have collected your data. It is now time to analyze your findings by connecting them with the literature you’ve read. You can start writing your dissertation now. It should include various chapters; the most important and compulsory chapters are Introduction and Conclusion. When you write, make sure that your writing corresponds to your research question/hypothesis and that your data back up your claims.
For example, you can divide your dissertation into various chapters like:
- Globalization as a sociological concept
- Globalization of Food in University space
- Your findings
- Conclusion/ Result
Step 8: Edit it
Writing is a lengthy task, but it doesn’t end with the first draft. Make sure to revisit your work after giving yourself a short break. When you reread your dissertation, read it from a reader’s perspective and make changes wherever necessary. Look out for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, sentence formation, and readability.
You can even use online tools for editing, such as
Step 9: Cite and Reference
Before submitting the final draft of your dissertation, you must check for proper citations and references in your document. Without proper citation, your work will count as plagiarism. In the world of academics, plagiarism is one of the biggest crimes. Therefore, to avoid any uncomfortable situation, in the end, make sure that your entire written piece is correctly cited and referenced.
Suppose you are working on Google Docs or Word. In that case, the application makes your work easier because they help you curate your citations.
How to add citations in Google Doc: Tools → Citation
How to add citations in Word Document: References → Insert Citations
But for those who want to cite manually, this is the basic format to follow:
- Author’s Name with Surname mentioned first, then initials
- Article’s Title in single or double quotes
- Journal Title in Italics
- Volume, issue number
- Year of Publication
Example: Syrkin, A. 1984. “Notes on the Buddha’s Threats in the Dīgha Nikāya”, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, vol. 7(1), pp.147-58.
Tips and Mistakes to avoid
Follow these TIPS for the optimum result:
- Start as soon as possible. The more you delay the work, the more it will pile up for later. Coursework is not an activity to be done at the last moment.
- Time management. Make a schedule for yourself. Allot personal deadlines and checkpoints. Without proper time management, managing coursework is not at all easy.
- Research and then research some more. The entire coursework’s reliability is based on its authenticity. In-depth focus research produces the best result.
- Peer review. If you get the opportunity, find a study buddy. Share your progress and your research with someone else to get the reader’s point of view. This peer review will make your edits easier.
- Follow the guideline. Different coursework has different requirements that need to be fulfilled. Therefore make sure to include all the information that is expected from you to complete the coursework.
Avoid the following MISTAKES and never miss a mark:
- Not citing your resources. Never forget that the most crucial skill to learn in academia is to learn how to cite and reference. Dedicate your time to ensure that your work is not counted as plagiarized because of wrong referencing.
- Not focusing on the formatting. It sounds like a small thing, but when someone reads a 5000-word coursework, the least they deserve is proper formatting with correctly aligned text and line spacing.
One of the most common and acceptable formatting style is:
Font size: 12
Font: Times New Roman
- Mistaking summarizing for analyzing. The coursework demands analysis and not summaries. You have to incorporate your point of view about things and now only reiterate what has already been said.
- Going off-topic. Since the length of the coursework is very demanding, to be able to meet this limit, students often start digressing from the topic. Do not do this. Stay focused and on the topic even if you write fewer words.
5. Never submit the first draft. Do not underestimate the power of editing. Always and always make sure to revisit your work after a gap to review it. Re-reading your work will allow you to refine it.
Also Read: How to write Sociological Essay