Skip to Main Content



Structure is an essential part of writing essays. While every essay will be different (depending on your subject and discipline), the general structure is usually the same. Essays should include an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Most essays will also require a reference list or bibliography.

Sometimes, your lecturer may include specific requirements for structuring an essay. Always check your assignment instructions carefully.


Introductions should include:

  • Background & context(s): write a sentence or two that shows the reader you understand the context of your assessment topic – this could be historical, social, political, demographic, theoretical or academic.
  • Roadmap or preview: give the reader a sense of how your essay is organised, what it will say, and the order it will proceed.
  • A clear response to the topic: include a short, direct statement that tells the reader your position regarding the topic. In some essays the response may take the form of an argument or "thesis statement."
Example introduction: [All bolded text in brackets identify parts of the paragraph and should not be included in your own writing]
[Topic] Neoliberal ideas and ideology are closely connected to the rise of precarious employment in Australia during the 21st century. [Context] Precarious employment, exemplified by contract or casual labour, is a defining trend of the 21st-century global labour market (Beck 2000; Standing 2016) and is characterised by states and employers cutting social services and reducing workers’ rights (Beck 2000; Furlong & Kelly 2005). [Preview] This paper will begin by showing that, contrary to today, Australia in the 20th century provided more support and security for workers (Tweedie 2013). Then the introduction of neoliberal ideology affected how individuals saw themselves, enabling the shifting of social responsibility onto workers and a rise in precarious labour (Germov 2019; Hewison 2016; Humphrys 2019). With the shifting of social responsibility and the rise of precarious labour, a new normal came about in which casual jobs and a lack of social support and security defined adult working life. This new normal was accompanied by a continual decrease in social protections, exemplified by the recent pandemic and the government’s response. It should be noted that precarious labour affects individuals differently, depending on their relative economic and social position. Nevertheless, this paper will show that the rise of precarious labour is not just connected to neoliberal ideology but is caused by it.

Paragraph adapted and used with student permission.

Body paragraphs

Essays should have several body paragraphs, and each paragraph should cover one point or idea.

Body paragraphs should include:

  • Topic sentence: start with the key idea. This is the sentence that frames the paragraph and acts as a signpost.
  • Elaboration or explanation: next, elaborate on the topic. You may include an explanation of the key idea, or definition of important terms.
  • Evidence: provide supporting evidence. This may include quotes, paraphrases and summaries. Don’t forget to properly reference your sources.
  • Link: end the paragraph by either linking back to your main topic or to the following paragraph.
Example body paragraph: [All bolded text in brackets identify parts of the paragraph and should not be included in your own writing]
[Topic sentence] Precarious employment was not always widely present in Australia. [Elaboration or explanation] Precarious employment is defined as work, usually contract or casual work, with low wages, little or no regulations and a lack of job security (Campbell & Price 2016). [Evidence] In contrast, during the 20th century, Australian labour relations, defined by the Harvester judgement of 1907, established that a worker’s wage should be enough to support a family rather than based on what a company was willing to pay (Probert 2000). Wages were high and people enjoyed relative security due to the high level of state regulation of work. It should be noted that these benefits were limited to white, male breadwinners, disadvantaging women and immigrant workers (Vosko 2010). However, beginning in the 1970s with the rise of globalisation, there was continuous deregulation resulting in responsibilities being removed from the state and employer (Beck 2000; Furlong & Kelly 2005). As a consequence, wages were no longer connected to the cost of raising a family but what a company wanted to pay, and thus wages decreased along with job security (Humphrys 2019). [Link] Precarious labour, hand in hand with neoliberal ideology, has continued to increase throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

Paragraph adapted and used with student permission.


Conclusions should include one or more of the following:

  • Summary of the main points, findings or argument: remind your reader of the main points. Make sure you paraphrase your ideas so you don’t use the same wording as elsewhere in the assessment.
  • Remaining problems and questions: indicate what still needs to be solved. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don't know everything.
  • Areas for future research: provide suggestions for future research to address the problem, issue or question.
  • A strong final sentence: leave the reader with an overall impression of your views on the topic.
Example conclusion: [All bolded text in brackets identify parts of the paragraph and should not be included in your own writing]
[Summary] Against a history of strong labour rights, Australia entered the 21st century with a distinct neoliberal agenda. Previous labour market conditions were rapidly deregulated and precarious employment has become a mainstay. Neoliberalism insists on individual responsibility over government or industry responsibility in respect to the safety, health and general welfare of individuals (Harvey 2005). In other words, according to neoliberal ideology, if an individual lacks financial resources or opportunities, it is the individual’s fault and has nothing to do with the structure of society or the economy. Furthermore, neoliberal ideology punishes individuals unable to succeed under this arrangement. As a result, individuals come to believe, as neoliberalism tells them, that their success is solely a result of personal choice rather than structural factors (Bourdieu 1998). A neoliberal belief in individual responsibility allows governments and employers to undermine workers’ rights, enabling the rise of precarious labour. All of this occurs amid a political climate that ignores and then punishes precarious workers. Precarious employment is a defining element of our contemporary society precisely because neoliberalism demands it. [Strong final sentence]  If these conditions are to be addressed, we must first challenge the notion, inherent in neoliberal ideology, that the individual alone is responsible for their success and wellbeing.

Paragraph adapted and used with student permission.


For more information on including a Reference List, see Referencing.

For the full sample essay with annotations see the Word and PDF documents below.

Pathfinder link

Still have questions? Do you want to talk to an expert? Peer Learning Advisors or Academic Skills and Language Advisors are available.