Effective Writing and Referencing

These pages will help you develop your thinking and writing style.

Study skills are often ignored by many students (a common attitude is that ‘I know how to write’) but this is unwise: even if you understand something, being able to convince a tutor or examiner that you do is quite another matter.

Students arrive at university with varying amounts of essay experience: some will have done one, two or even three arts subjects at A-level, while others have not written an essay since GCSE (or even before). Writing an economics essay at university takes different skills from, say, A-level English, so arts students have less of an advantage than you might think.

A skill that becomes crucial when you write an Economics essay at University is referencing. The importance of referencing will be stressed to you throughout your University life as it is imperative to research, essays, articles and projects.

Box: ‘Blagging’

Many students boast of being able to ‘blag’ – writing an essay with little knowledge of a subject and normally doing ok.

This tacitly acknowledges the importance of good writing skills. In fact, blagging can only get you so far (and many students claim to ‘blag’ to cover up for when they’ve revised well or else it seems like they’re putting too much effort in).

You need a solid base of knowledge (and some prior thoughts on a subject) to write a convincing essay. But you also need to be able to write well. Poor English, structure, and argument will obscure the fact you understand something.

This section draws heavily on the work of some academics from the LSE – Margaret Bray, Susie Laurence and Neil Mclean. It is worth looking at their original work – it contains many useful examples of good and bad writing.