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MPhil in Health, Medicine and Society


Key to writing a good Sociology essay is a clear argument based on a careful and critical reading of the material relevant to the question. In the first instance, this will be the books and articles the paper organiser has indicated you should read in the paper guide. Pay careful attention to the language a particular author uses and attempt to situate the work in the social and intellectual context of the period in which it was written.

A good essay will provide an introduction that explains your interpretation of the question and how you intend to answer it, namely your essay’s structure and argument. As part of the process of building the argument, the body of the essay will outline, and critically evaluate, the different positions you’ve considered on the topic of the question (e.g. a question on class may discuss Marx, Weber and Durkheim’s differing understanding of the structural organisation of class and/or the subjective experience of class). This critical evaluation may include how well arguments are supported with empirical examples of events (including contemporary events not yet analysed in the literature), studies or statistical data.  Specifically, you can use the theory to help us understand an empirical case of your choice, and then use that empirical case to shed light on the strengths and weaknesses of that theory.

Here you can show further knowledge by referring to material beyond the reading list, as long as you demonstrate its relevance. The essay should conclude by summarising your argument and the justifications you have offered for it, as well as indicating the relevance of your argument in the broader theoretical and/or empirical context. Always try to justify your arguments by reference to concrete examples, studies, research or new work. Reference all your sources consistently and systematically. Finally give yourself time to re-read, edit and re-edit your essay. Often the process of re-reading and editing will improve an essay immensely. This process will, of course, be aided through discussions in supervisions and the further reflections they inspire for you.