ip target image
You are currently browsing our site with content tailored to students in your country

Our cookies

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience with personalized content, relevant ads and enhanced functionalities. By allowing all you agree to the use of cookies as per the cookie policy and remember you can manage your preferences anytime.
The basics
Study abroad : Once you arrive

How to Write a University-Level Paper

Writing at the university-level has differences and similarities. Make sure you are prepared with these tips...

student writing a paper



In previous schooling, you were probably taught the paper writing method that consisted of an intro, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. But in university, this method doesn’t cut it anymore. Just as your level of education has increased, so should the complexity of your writing.


What’s different? What’s similar?

The good thing about university essays is that you are given more freedom in how you lay out your paper.  You can split arguments into multiple paragraphs; you can have multiple introductory paragraphs; you don’t have to regurgitate your thesis in the conclusion and you can even counteract arguments within your paper.

But, there are key elements that you learned in previous schooling that you still need to apply in university, even though you have left the five paragraph structure behind.

In either essay you need:

·         thesis statement (what you are trying to prove)

·         mapping statement or statements (what and how you will argue)

·         topic sentences (sentences that introduce your topics)

·         introduction

·         conclusion

How you put it together depends on your writing style. But if you are lacking the items mentioned above, your essay will be missing the focus needed for you to argue your point effectively.

Another key element of writing university-level papers is using a style. The most common styles are APA and MLA followed by Chicago. While most of your previous schooling probably used MLA, most professors prefer APA. However, always ask your professor if they do not specify which style they prefer. This can determine your grade as the styles differ in layout and citing. Learn more about each style and what they entail here.


What to avoid

Academic essays should be written in a formal style.

Avoid using:

  • clichés ("the flaws in this argument stand out like a sore thumb")
  • contractions ("don't", "aren't", "it's")
  • phrases that sound like speech ("well, this bit is really fascinating")
  • subjective descriptions ("this beautiful sculpture")

Use the first person "I" only where appropriate (e.g. when writing up your own experience or professional case study). Where possible use the third person, for example "It can be argued" instead of "I think”. In general, try not to insert yourself and your opinions in a university level paper. Unless, of course, it is an opinion piece.

  • Use plain language - you don't have to search for a more "academic-sounding" word when a simple one will do. Professors are looking for clear and accurate expression of ideas, not jargon or confusing language. Shorter sentences are usually clearer than long complex ones, but make sure it is a whole sentence and not just a clause or phrase.


Integrating evidence and your own ideas

Your argument is your reasoned answer to the essay question, supported by evidence. The books, articles, and research material that you read for your essay provide this evidence to back up your points. The way in which you select and interpret the evidence, and explain why it answers the question, is where you demonstrate your own thinking.

For each point that you make in your essay, you need to support it with evidence. There are many different kinds of evidence, and the type you use will depend on what is suitable for your subject and what the essay question is asking you to do.

For example, you might back up a point using a theory (one kind of evidence) then show how this theory applies to a specific example in real life (another kind of evidence).

Typically it will turn out like this

  1. Introduce your point (your own words)
  2. Add teh evidence to support your point (quoted or paraphrased evidence that needs to be references)
  3. Explain how and why this evidence supports your point and what you think of it (your own internpretation and critical thinking)
  4. Explain how the point helps answer the question (your own argument)

As you get more experienced with essay writing you will want to adapt this to suit the structure and shape of your ideas. Also, plagiarism is taken very seriously at all universities so it is important that you learn how to properly cite your sources and when to cite them. Learn more about citing here .


Additional Help

At almost all universities a writing centre or student success centre is available specifically to help all kinds of students write at the university level . Typically a student tutor will read through your paper and check for errors while also reviewing your structure, and style usage. These centres help free of charge and it is important to utilize their knowledge and your universities resources.



Read More

Studying for Tests

Writing a CV

IELTS Writing Exam


Must read

article Img

Top 10 job seeking tips for international students

Finding a job after university is pretty much every graduate's dream. After years of hard work and late-night cramming in the library, it’s time to enter the professional world of work to gain a well-deserved salary and experience. But how easy is it to find work as an international graduate? Well, it firstly depends on whether you have permission to remain in the country to work. This should be your first step if you wish to stay in your study destination or move

article Img

Opening a bank account as a study abroad student

Organising your finances is a major part of the study abroad preparation process. You need to make sure that while you’re in your new study destination, you are able to live and support yourself and have access to your money. This includes being able to pay for things such as rent, groceries, travel, books and daily living costs. To do this without paying exchange fees, it’s a good idea to open a bank account in the country you’ll be living and studying in.

article Img

Top five jobs for students abroad

Studying abroad and being a full-time student has many advantages. You’ll be fulfilling your academic ambitions, experiencing a new culture and hopefully getting fully involved in university life. Admittedly one of the other aspects of being a student is not always having that much disposable income available. Studying abroad can be expensive and so finding some extra money to support yourself could mean needing to find a student job. It’ll allow you to fund some

article Img

How to revise for exams effectively

We’ve all been there. That circled date on the calendar that looms large, the feeling of anxiety at the amount of work to be done and wondering whether you’re covering the right areas. Examinations, when you’re a student, can seem overwhelming and insurmountable. However, we’re here to help you reduce that stress. We’ve got some top tips, advice and guidance on how to revise for exams, including effective study techniques. Having a good exam revision strategy goes a