Essay Topic & Essay Focus

Postgraduates will usually have to decide on all titles of all assignments at this level of study.  Firstly though you will need a topic, a focus and a thesis statement before you can come up with a working title.

What are your interests in the subject area that you have to write about?  You know your subject but you have to decide on the topic.  Once you have found a topic, you have to narrow it down.  You must have a focus so that you do not end up writing a general, descriptive essay.

Ask yourself key questions:

Example 1: Youth crime

  • Am I writing about one specific type of youth crime or of youth crime in general?
  • What kind of youth crime do I wish to write about?  Muggings?  Shoplifting?  Drug taking?
  • What activities, qualities, or issues of that particular crime do I wish to explore?

Example 2:  The environment

  • What environmental factor am I writing about?  Or am I writing in general?
  • Climate change?  De-forestation?  The “Environment” could be metaphorical, e.g. “the office environment and the sexes”.
  • Am I concentrating on causes or outcomes?
  • What specific events or examples will illustrate my points?

In deciding on a workable topic from your subject, be careful not to narrow it too far; your topic must provide scope to develop a sustained presentation and argument.

General subject:  Youth crime
Narrowed topic:  Drug taking
Specific topic:  How pressure from the family and the peer group promote drug taking in youths

General subject:  The environment
Narrowed topic:  The effects of climate change on man
Specific topic
:  The effect of global warming on low-lying islands and their people