If you're writing a 'show what you think' essay (i.e. discussion, argument, or problem-solution type essays), you should include a thesis, or problem, statement.
A thesis statement is a short, simple, one to two sentence summary of the position, argument or problem that you're going to develop in your assignment.
It forms part of your introduction, which should include:
- An attention-grabbing statement
- Information that sets the scene
- A very brief introduction to key ideas/arguments/research
- A thesis (or problem) statement
- What the essay will do, i.e. the route-map - what comes first, second, third etc.
As you can see, a thesis statement should usually come at the end of the introduction.
Why write a thesis statement?
A thesis statement:
- Provides the reader with a ‘guide’ to your argument.
- Tests your ideas by distilling them into a sentence or two. If your thesis statement is difficult to create and is unfocused, then your argument may be difficult and unfocused too!
- Helps you organise and develop your argument - and stay focused.
Your thesis statement therefore acts like an anchor that keeps your ideas pinned down. The themes of the paragraphs that follow in the main body should directly relate to the thesis, to build a convincing and reasoned response to the assignment question. Any content that doesn't relate to your thesis statement is irrelevant and should be removed.
The 'Fish Bone Essay Plan' below shows how the thesis statement controls the flow of ideas in your essay:
Here are a couple of examples of effective thesis/problem statements:
1. Although people may believe that modern democratic societies have achieved gender equality, the paper will show that this is in fact not the case, and that continuing inequality may be related to women's biology.
2. This essay will argue that there is a measurable correlation between increasing levels of childhood obesity and the number of targeted marketing campaigns launched by leading confectionary companies in the last ten years.
Adapted from: Hopkins, D. and Reid, T., 2018. The Academic Skills Handbook: Your Guide to Success in Writing, Thinking and Communicating at University. Sage.