The term “discussion” literally means to converse or debate about a particular topic. So, when you are asked to write a discussion essay the requirement is to examine both sides of a problem, theoretical stance or phenomenon and indicate which side you favour.
One of the key rules to follow for a strong discussion is to be balanced at all times. It is this balance which separates discussion essays from persuasion or critical essays, which usually commence from one standpoint which the author wishes to confirm.
In a discussion essay, the aim is to present facts and opinions, clearly separated. This means that whilst you will be including previous viewpoints with paraphrasing, summarising it is important to be clear about whether you are presenting an opinion or a certifiable fact as part of discussion.
Commonly discussion essays will either be phrased by giving a statement, followed by the word “Discuss”. For example, “Capital punishment is essential for law and order. Discuss”. Alternative approaches to a discussion essay title include “Examine the arguments for and against online learning”, or “Identify and examine the advantages and disadvantages of a free trade agreement”.
All of these titles require a discussion essay. So, once you have identified the key themes and viewpoints in the area, you are ready to start producing your perfect discussion essay, provided you follow our guidelines and example structure.
- Remember that your discussion essay should demonstrate competent and coherent deliberations, founded on knowledge and evidence. A valid discussion will consider all viewpoints to achieve the necessary balance.
- Discussion essays should present the key issues that currently exist in a topic area, identifying those which are open to debate and presenting both sides.
- There should be demonstration of understanding of all aspects of the topic, and the issues that exist based on quality research and well-presented evidence.
So now you understand what needs to be included, and what the question is asking, you need to ensure your structure is strong and well-presented.
What makes a good introduction? Your introduction should give the reader an overview of what will be covered, but in such a way that they are motivated to read more. In other words, you need to draw or “hook” the reader in with your opening statement.
So, what should you include in a discussion essay introduction? The introduction should be the place to introduce any generic terms that need explaining or acronyms that may be used in the essay to further understand on the part of the reader.
How do I end my introduction? Your introduction should conclude with a thesis statement. This term refers to a short (one or two sentences) statement that summarises the main points or perspectives that the essay is making. For example, “cardio-vascular exercise is effective in depression as it releases necessary hormones for well-being”. This is a strong statement which can be backed up in the body of the work with evidence and viewpoints.
Main Body of the work
The main body of the work should be separated into paragraphs, with each paragraph making a separate point. Often the approach in a discussion essay is to present all the evidence, as multiple paragraphs for why the thesis statement is correct. In each paragraph, one point should be made, and then backed up with evidence.
Important point: The evidence given should be from valid, credible sources, preferably peer reviewed articles, and fully referenced. It is vital to ensure that the views expressed are not opinions, but verifiable evidence so as to give your work additional credibility.
Subsequent paragraphs should focus on individual points, whether they are arguing for or against the thesis statement. To ensure a logical flow, you should raise the main or key points and arguments first, and then move onto sub-arguments, ensuring that all the paragraphs are well linked to deliver a cohesive, easy to read essay.
In a discussion essay there are two parts to the conclusion. The first is a summary of the main ideas, to remind the reader of the evidence you have presented, and the key points made. It is often advisable here to indicate which viewpoints you, as the writer, consider have delivered the strongest evidence in support of your thesis statement.
How do I conclude my discussion essay? The final part requires you to state your own opinion, based on the evidence presented, showing that you are able to draw a final conclusion in relation to your thesis statement based on your assessment and debate (internally) of the issues surrounding the topic. In this way you are able to demonstrate how you have made a considered deliberation of the arguments in your discussion.
To help you in the construction of your discussion essay, we have put together a list of key words and phrases that can be used to ensure you deliver a first class piece of work.
Key Discussion Essay Vocabulary
When presenting evidence:
- It is suggested that…
- Evidence available indicates that….
- It has been indicated that…
- Aspects of the work suggest that…
- The evidence presented supports the view that…
- The evidence presented however overlooks…
- Closer examination suggests….
For summarising, the following phrases are useful:
- The most important
- First of all
When introducing an opinion
- There is no doubt that…
- A key argument in favour is that…
- I believe that…