The Introduction in an Essay

The Introduction in an Essay
Guide to the importance of an Introduction in an essay. A guide as to what to incorporate into the Introduction.
Students often make the mistake of immediately launching into an essay as they are keen to commit their thoughts to paper. However it is important to set the scene of the essay before entering into greater depth.

Even a given scenario involving a set of facts on which the student has to advise certain parties on their liabilities, will require an introduction. A couple of sentences will suffice depending on the type of question posed. If a scenario type question involves assault, battery and grievous bodily harm then state that "this question primarily concerns Offences Against the Person Act 1861" so that the examiner has a broad overview of the focus of the essay.

If the essay concerns a question where you are asked to comment on the obiter dicta of a judge for example, then it is likely that the introduction will be more than just one sentence, as the scene will need to be set in a wider context. A possible introduction will need to encompass the facts and importance of the case, the area of law under consideration," e.g. negligence in tort; consider whether the judge’s words have become a binding precedent; and the influence of the decision as it affects the current law. So I would expect that an introduction under these circumstances would comprise at least three or four sentences.

In this type of question, an examiner will be looking for an introduction which sets out a preview of the entire answer too. The introduction will set out the order in which aspects of the question will be answered so that when the examiner has finished reading the introduction he/she will know what to expect from the remainder of the essay and how the student has chosen to tackle the answer.

So before writing anything, the student should always compose a rough draft outline even though it will not form part of the essay. This is not a wasted task and will enable the student to focus and gather his/her thoughts in a coherent fashion. The draft outline will help the student to shape the essay so that it flows in a logical coherent manner. Once the student has committed his/her written thoughts in the draft outline, he/she will find it easier to flesh out the skeleton parts.

A poorly written introduction, or no introduction, will lose marks. A well written introduction should stimulate the examiner’s interest in the topic and prevent the examiner from floundering trying to make sense of what the student is trying to achieve.

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