How to Write an Academic Coursework

June 1, 2017
HandMadeWritings Staff

If you’ve already read this article, you probably know what coursework is and what you need to do about it (i.e., write!) But if not, let’s make sure we understand the basics: coursework is work researched and written for learning about a specific topic. Students usually prepare one coursework per university year. Now, let’s move…


How to Write an Academic Coursework

If you’ve already read this article, you probably know what coursework is and what you need to do about it (i.e., write!) But if not, let’s make sure we understand the basics: coursework is work researched and written for learning about a specific topic. Students usually prepare one coursework per university year. Now, let’s move on and find out how to prepare your coursework quickly and professionally.

What is coursework, anyway?

Coursework is a form of learning text that is, generally speaking, bigger and more professional than a normal project or essay. The topics that students investigate vary, but all the papers will share one feature: they will be independent investigations of one or the other problem.

In most coursework, the scope of the topic is very narrow. This is because students don’t have enough space (or knowledge!) to make an in-depth analysis. But keep in mind that your coursework might turn out to be a great starting point for your future Ph.D. thesis!  One of the advantages of coursework is that you can work from home to find the sources of information that you respect and prefer to use. On the other hand, coursework is a must and unavoidable.

Steps to write an academic coursework

So, here are the steps that you need to take in order to write a coursework:

  1. Choosing the topic and digging deeper into research

When it comes to choosing a topic, make sure to choose something that interests you. Then think about it again and consider how you can make the topic really engaging. It’s even better if you have worked on the topic before. If you are a social worker, for example, and you need to write coursework about social media -then write about how media highlights social problems.

By connecting your coursework to a topic that you are already familiar with, you can submit professional, interesting material that everybody will want to read! And if you find the topic really interesting, you will research deeply into the materials because you will be motivated to do so – to find information that you find fascinating, not just a research for someone else.

  1. Planning & collecting the material

To begin with, never expect to do everything within two or three days. For a professional coursework, you will have to plan ahead. Starting at least a month beforehand is usually a good idea because you won’t feel anxious about not having enough time. Never think that you have enough time: in reality, you don’t.

You will probably spend the first few days not writing at all, but rather collecting material. That’s the best way to kick things off. But remember: even if you know a lot of about the topic, that doesn’t mean you will have it on the paper.

Quick Tip. From the very first day you start working, discipline yourself not to go to bed without writing at least one page.

  1. Don’t forget to write down every single thought you have.

You may not use everything, but a single good idea can lead to others and make your coursework that much better. And, finally…

  1. Think about your plan three times!

Make sure that you know exactly what you want to say before you start working. This will not only give your work structure, but it can also help you to avoid problems and inconsistencies later in the process.

If you find that you need a deeper understanding of the topic, discuss it with other professionals in the field. This will make both you and your work look better! If the people you are consulting are busy and don’t have time to read everything, give them an outline of your coursework. That means a plan that you write from. If they can see the plan, they will be more likely to understand the main ideas behind of your work! And remember… everyone is open to discussing something interesting!

According to teachers and professors, students very often have a lot of to say that they never put down on paper. Thinking about and discussing the material is a good thing, but organizing that information in a structured and logical manner is a something else entirely. So, write everything you know about the different aspects of the topic. And remember what I said: you will probably begin to rework some old ideas that you never thought you could use!

  1. Apply proper structure and pre-write

After completing the first draft, think long and hard about how you are going to structure the coursework. In most cases, students do not have a problem with actually writing the project – they just don’t know what to write. So think first, then write.

The introduction and conclusion to the coursework are usually written at the end: once you have all your data, you will be able to judge how to structure your introduction to suit your argument. The introduction should describe the problem that you are examining, while the conclusion should demonstrate how you solved it. Is this difficult? Not really, if you think about it.

The same applies to the analysis and discussion: be very logical here. Remember that each statement you make in this part of the coursework should be properly referenced to avoid accusations of plagiarism. Make sure to keep both analysis and discussion written in past tense. Only use the present tense to describe a process or make an assumption, and always be as specific as you can.

  1. Write it up!

As I said before, make sure that you write at least one page every day. Within a few days, you will see that your draft is becoming more and more substantial. Follow the structure you outlined before. You will be surprised at how much information you have gathered from your diverse and “unconnected” facts and ideas!

It may not seem this way, but this is the easiest stage of the process – if you carefully followed all the previous steps. It is much more about the habit and dedication than about the research and analysis – everything is prepared already, your job is just to stick the bricks and set up the roof.

  1. Edit. Proofread. Polish.

It is very important to edit and proofread your coursework carefully. This may seem like very simple advice to follow, but it’s easy to make mistakes. The first thing you should do is to print out the coursework. You don’t read printed text in the same way that you read text on a computer screen, so you are more likely to spot any errors. If you still feel that it is not good enough, find somebody who will edit your text for you. Also, consider asking other students to peer-review your text. People from the same faculty will understand your topic, and, at the end of the day, you will have great work with perfect spelling.

Coursework writing Dos and Don'ts

Here are the helpful advice and common mistakes outlined by our professional writers:

Do’s Don’ts
  • Always quote the sources that you take your information from. Make sure to capture all the information you read about the topic. Include the full name, the year, and the page number/s. Always make a note of the page you took the idea or quote from – it’s all too easy to lose it afterward!
  • Pay attention when formatting your coursework. Check your university’s requirements or style sheets and adhere to them strictly. Believe me, your work can be good, but if it’s poorly presented, it will not make the best impression. The same applies to the footnotes – be aware of why you need footnotes (they are not just for fun, we need logic everywhere in the text, right?)
  • Also be aware of small details like bullets, numbers, and punctuation. It seems obvious to say that your punctuation should be perfect, but many students struggle with this. Just spend a few hours learning the rules, and you will soon master it! The situation with bullets and numbers is not that simple. Make sure that you keep the formatting consistent when you use bullets or numbers, and be sure to confirm with your supervisor what style he or she prefers to see in your work: letters (a, b, c, d), Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4), or Roman numerals (I, II, III).
  • Try to avoid thinking that you have discovered something new and that the whole world must know about it. Remember that thousands of scientists worldwide could be working on your project. Therefore, check all the available sources of information relating to your topic;
  • Don’t use only the internet to find your data – this is a common mistake among millennials. Remember that your professors don’t just read the first page that Google suggests. Research deeply into the topic in the library and its catalogs: that’s the best way to improve your knowledge;
  • Don’t be afraid that you will write something bad or make mistakes. You are learning, and any learning process involves making mistakes. You don’t have enough time to worry about it!
  • Don’t let criticism upset or dishearten you. Criticism is normal when your supervisor is trying to improve your work. Take everything that he or she says into account. You are learning, and you’ll be much better at your future work if you understand your supervisor better!
  • Don’t choose a topic that is very similar to one of your colleagues’. This sometimes happens when two people are interested in the same topic and try to examine different aspects of it. This can cause problems for both of you. I remember a situation when a friend of mind wanted to write about the problems that another person was working on. The faculty board eventually made him choose another topic.


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