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Writing critical essays, Week 19


Writing critical essays

Week 19



Effective Critical Essay


1) Critical writing


2) Critical reading


3) Structure of essay



Essay topics

Module handbook (page 16)


Select one (and answer if there is question)


NOT solely present relevant information BUT engage in a thoughtful analysis of that information


Critical reading (literature review)


Demonstrate ability of critical thinking


Critical writing


Contribute to scholarly conversation in chosen subject areas

Effective Critical Essay



Builds a formidable argument by identifying significant factors

Evaluates (weight up significance) strengths & weaknesses while backing up initial premise

Weighs one piece of information against others

Makes a reasoned judgement (in support of argument)

Demonstrates significance or relevance of argument with evidence

Supports argument & moves onto next

Demonstrates structure with objectives & sign-posts

Writing Critical Essays


Gives the story


what happened so far

the order in which things happened

what something is like


what a theory says

how it works



Varied, general guidelines including

1) Understand assignment

Identify requirements


2) Pick the subject

Writing Critical Essays: Stages

3) Literature review

Conduct research & gather sources

Make notes with track of resources


4) Build main perspective / argument of essay

position yourself


5) Create a detailed outline

Organize ideas / thoughts

Include all parts: introduction, main body, conclusion

Make sure each part support & contribute your main perspective / argument



1) Introduction

Engaging, capturing attention

Provide background on subject helping to understand context

Outline main points / perspective clearly

Writing Critical Essays: Structure

DO: editing & proofreading

2) Main body

Develop each main points of argument in separate paragraphs

Ensure logical flow connecting main points

Provide evidence: interpret & analyse evidence

Anticipate counterarguments: explain why they might be less persuasive or invalid

Utilize critical analysis to evaluate weakness & strength

3) Conclusion

Summarize your main points discussed

Restate your main argument (introduction) that reinforces your discussed points

Do not introduce new information

4) References

Make sure sources properly cited & referenced

Follow Harvard citation style consistently


Consult: link taking to cite them right Cite Them Right (


Watch: How to cite and reference in the Harvard style – DMU Referencing Guide – LibGuides at De Montfort University

Harvard Referencing Style



Citing three or more authors


What do you take away from your reading?


Are you a sponge or do you evaluate?


To read critically you need to know:


Key points in article/chapter


Its strengths & weaknesses

Critical Reading

Write good notes with page numbers for citations

What you think about those key points, strengths & weaknesses


Key characteristics include:

Critical evaluation & analysis of relevant literature with identification of strengths-weaknesses & limitations

Identification of gap in literature

Critical Reading: Literature review?

A well-conducted helps you:

Guide development of main aim/discussion of essay

Develop conceptual framework to position within a broader context

Answer essay question or succeed its aims/objective

Comprehensive & critical summary with analysis of sources


Evaluation in-depth with examination of underlying assumptions, implications, weakness & strength


Go beyond summarizing resources: systematic analysis

Critical analysis (1)

Mainly based on critical thinking skills

Essential component of literature review & academic writing


enable to go beyond surface-level


Key elements include:

Understanding structure of resources (assumptions, arguments)

Evaluating relevance, credibility of provided evidence

Identifying perspective & beliefs of authors

Impacts of authors: figure how fits & situated within broader context

Anticipating potential counter-arguments

Synthesizing data from literature review

Develop more comprehensive understanding

Demonstrate how different phenomena related

Presenting significant implication/consequences of argument of essay in conclusion

Critical analysis (2)


Structure of Critical Essay (1)

Determine Question

Set Objectives (positionality)

Limit Scope if Required

Objective 1. (Signpost)

Strong Premise

Back Up with Key Arguments with Independent Knowledge (evidence)

Final Sentence in support of Premise 1

Counter Position 1. (Signpost)

Strong Premise

Back Up with Key Arguments with Independent Knowledge (evidence)

Final Sentence in support of Premise 1

Objective 2. (Signpost)

Strong Premise

Back Up with Key Arguments with Independent Knowledge (evidence)

Final Sentence in support of Premise 2

Counter Position 2. (Signpost)

Strong Premise

Back Up with Key Arguments with Independent Knowledge (evidence)

Final Sentence in support of Premise 2.

Made up of Summary of Final Sentences 1 & 2


Main Body






Developing an analytical framework with sound argument – Individual paragraph

Your Objective (What you will be evaluating and your argument) (Signpost: Link back to Introduction)

Start with a Strong Premise (A statement that sets out your argument)

Support this with Key Points and Evidence

Reference your evidence

Anticipate counter-position (argument) to strengthen your main points


Max is a brave man (Sam, 2023, p.5)

He is a fire fighter

Therefore, all fire fighters are brave


All the fire fighter are brave (Smith, 2024, p.2)

Laura is a fire fighter

Therefore, Laura is brave person


Counterargument: Accordingly, 1% fire fighters described themselves NOT brave (BBC, 2024)

Structure of Critical Essay (2)

Objective 1. (Signpost)

Strong Premise

Back Up with Key Arguments with Independent Knowledge (evidence)

Final Sentence in support of Premise 1

Try to demonstrate your Independent Thought & Knowledge

Summarise your case in the final sentence of your paragraph (this will then link to your conclusion)


Summarize your essay with its main point without new information


Re-emphasise significance of your essay with its analysis


Aim to end with thought-provoking statement or a call to action


Artificial Intelligence

Consult DMU guidance on AI, e.g., how to use AI ethically

Home – Using Generative Artificial Intelligence – LibGuides at De Montfort University (

Usage of IA: required to declare by making a note on assignment