Contemporary European Politics Essay

Contemporary European Politics Essay

How to Write a Good Essay for Contemporary European Politics


  • What has been the impact of Green parties on politics from the 1980s until the present day? Germany and France


  • State the main argument of the essay.
  • State which countries are examined.
  • Outline the structure of the essay (signposting).

The introduction is a very important part of the essay which is often neglected by students.  It needs to be concise, while also conveying the key information written above.  Avoid writing lengthy descriptive historical introductions about the topic.  Such introductions use up too many words and do not answer the question which has been set.

Main body:

  • Make a point.
  • Back it up with evidence.
  • Explain why it is significant (i.e. analyse).

Every paragraph of the main body should have a point that is relevant to the question.  Writing everything that you know about the topic without relating it to the question will result in a weak essay.  Every point being made needs to be supported by evidence.  The best way to achieve this is to use academic sources.  It is essential to use articles from journals to make points and/or support arguments in your essay.  This is because this is a contemporary module focusing on current events, meaning that books are often, but not always, too out of date to be referenced.  It is also essential to explain why the point being made or the argument being posed is important.


  • Sum up the main argument(s) in relation to the question.
  • Come down on the side of the argument which is supported most strongly by the evidence which you have presented in the essay.
  • Never introduce any new ideas in the conclusion.

The conclusion need not be too long, but it must sum up the most important points made in the essay, in order to draw together the arguments to answer the question.  This may involve supporting one particular way of answering the question over another, or favouring a particular side of the argument, but make sure that it does offer a final answer to the question which has been set.  Including new ideas in the conclusion is not appropriate and should always be avoided.


The essay must include citations to support all ideas which are not your own.  The majority of arguments made in an undergraduate essay should, therefore, be derived from academic sources.  All citations from books, journal articles, or other written documents require a page number, while all citations from any source require a year.  A reference list must be included at the end of the essay.  The Harvard system for citation and referencing must be used.  Remember that referencing is essential to avoid poor academic practice and/or plagiarism, so ensure that the essay is fully referenced.


All essays should adhere to the following style:

  • 5 spacing.
  • Font size 10-12 (depending on font choice).
  • British English spelling and word choice (make sure that the dictionary/spell checker on the computer being used to word process the essay is set to UK English not US English).
  • Academic (i.e. not conversational) English. Remember this is an academic essay not an opinion piece.  As a result, it must be written in a formal style.
  • Paraphrase academic arguments as often as possible and avoid direct quotations. One of the skills of writing a good essay is being able to express the arguments of academics using your own words, rather than directly quoting their points.

Below is a list of common grammatical and use of English errors which are frequently made by students.  Please avoid:

  • Incorrect sentence construction (e.g. using relative pronouns to start a new sentence or using commas or semi-colons when a full stop should be used and a new sentence started).
  • Starting sentences with conjunctions (e.g. ‘and’ and ‘but’)
  • Using personal pronouns (e.g. ‘I’ and ‘we’). A formal academic essay should be written in the third person (e.g. ‘It can be argued that’ not ‘I argue that’).
  • Misusing the comma and semi-colon. This is very common and often causes problems with understanding sentences and/or sentences being far too long.
  • Misusing the apostrophe. This is also a very common problem and it can change the meaning of a phrase completely.  It is imperative to use the apostrophe correctly.
  • Contractions (e.g. ‘don’t’, wouldn’t, you’re, and ‘they’re). Contractions should always be written out in full (e.g. do not, would not, you are, and they are) in an academic essay, unless directly quoting someone’s speech.
  • Omitting the relative pronoun after a verb (e.g. Smith argues that x causes y – ‘that’ cannot be omitted).
  • Subject and verb agreement (e.g. country, government*, party*, and majority are all singular nouns, so require the third person singular of the verb, rather than the third person plural). *For more details about exceptions, please read:
  • Using lead (present tense) when you mean led (past tense)
  • Incorrect use of the capital letter (e.g. communism does not usually require a capital letter, but the names of political parties do).
  • Speech marks when quotation marks should be used.
  • Confusing ‘affect’ (verb) and ‘effect’ (mainly used as a noun).
  • Using ‘try and’ and ‘should of’. These are both incorrect.  The correct forms are ‘try to’ and ‘should have’.
  • Confusing ‘their’ and ‘there’.