Undergraduate Titles

It is usual, but not always the case, that undergraduates are given a title for their essays.  This is particularly the case in an examination.  You will therefore have to understand the instructions in the title for you to be able to write what is required both for your essay and for your exam.  With final papers, such as the dissertation, you will decide on your own title as you will be doing your own research project, though you may well get some guidance.

You will find it helpful if you can break the title down into sections.  You should make sure you understand the ‘instruction’ words.  The most common instruction words are listed below:

  • Account for: Give reasons for
  • Analyse: Examine in close detail
  • Assess: Examine the value before reaching a decision
  • Comment on: Give your opinion (of the main issues) using evidence from your reading
  • Compare: Discuss similarities and differences
  • Consider: Give your views using evidence from your reading
  • Contrast: Discuss the significance of the differences
  • Critically evaluate: Assess the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the arguments
  • Define: Give the exact meaning of (within boundaries where appropriate)
  • Demonstrate: Use examples to show something
  • Describe: Give a detailed account
  • Discuss: Give both arguments, consider the implications
  • Distinguish: Bring out the differences
  • Evaluate: Examine the importance looking at the strengths and weaknesses before making a decision
  • Examine: Explain in detail
  • Explain: Make the reasons for the situation clear
  • Explore: Examine thoroughly from all sides
  • Identify: Show something clearly
  • Illustrate: Show with examples or evidence
  • Interpret: Give the meaning and relevance
  • Justify: Give reasons for
  • Outline: Give only the main points
  • Prove: Show by evidence that something is true
  • Report: Give an account of
  • Review: Critically assess
  • State: Give the main points clearly
  • Summarise: Draw out the main points (without details or examples)
  • To what extent …?: Consider how far something is (not) true
  • Trace: Outline the development in a logical order