The aim of the Essay is to allow students to demonstrate the final three Learning Outcomes of the module and the depth of their knowledge and understanding (also, therefore, demonstrating the first three Learning Outcomes) with respect to one topic area covered by the module. There are THREE core competences being assessed in the coursework essay:
1. The ability to answer the question set.
2. The ability to apply relevant psychological theory and evidence in order to construct that answer.
3. The ability to compare, contrast and critically evaluate competing theories and research that are relevant to the question set.
In order to demonstrate the first criteria, students must show that they can address a specific question, tailoring their essay so as to build up a meaningful argument in direct response to what has been asked. This means that answers must: be well organised throughout; begin with an effective introduction which lays out how the question will be tackled; include a logical structure that gradually constructs a clear and cohesive argument; and end with a solid conclusion which explains precisely where the essay stands regarding the issue/controversy highlighted in the question.
In order to demonstrate the second criteria, students must construct their essay using appropriate reading of relevant current literature. This means: the use of articles from refereed academic journals (whether in printed or online format); and the use of printed academic texts. Lecture notes and unrefereed online materials are NOT appropriate sources for citation in these essays (although they may inform a student’s understanding of an issue and help to identify/locate sources for citation that ARE acceptable). The use and citation of relevant material from current literature outside the references given in lectures will be regarded very favourably.
In order to demonstrate the third criteria, students must show that they are aware: that theories compete with one another to explain social phenomena; and, that the research results of different psychologists support and challenge each other. For high marks, theory and research must be critically evaluated (rather than merely described) and applied to the specific question posed.