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Saoirse

July 2nd, 2023

Stepping up: navigating how coursework at LSE differs from A-level essays

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Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Saoirse

July 2nd, 2023

Stepping up: navigating how coursework at LSE differs from A-level essays

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

As a humanities student, I am in no shortage of essays to write. Whilst, as a second-year student, I feel like I am top of my coursework, at first, it felt quite challenging in comparison to the essays I wrote for my A-levels. So to help ease the transition between writing A-level essays and coursework at university, this blog will explore some of the five key differences.

1. In-depth analysis

University coursework requires much greater analysis than what was required for my A-level essays. Whilst for my A-levels I was simply required to provide a descriptive account of concepts and explain them, at university, coursework requires you to think far more critically about the matters you are studying. Subsequently, this provides you with the opportunity to delve much deeper into topics and discuss your own position on a concept. As a result, I have found my university coursework a much more rewarding process than writing essays for my A-levels.

2. Elaborate essay structure

The writing style of university coursework also differs from A-level essays. Due to the greater word count of the essays that are often required at university, the structure needs to be much clearer and more defined than that which was needed for A-level essays. At first, I particularly found that navigating this transition was quite challenging, although with help from LSE LIFE, which helps with personal skill development, I was quickly able to improve and adapt my writing style.

3. In-depth research

University coursework requires a far greater depth of research. During my A-levels, my essays involved little to no extra research outside of the course content and the textbook. Whereas, at university, coursework requires a significant volume of research to gather a variety of evidence to support your argument.

4. Greater autonomy

Another major difference between A-level essays and coursework at university is the greater choice of questions offered. Often A-level questions have quite a limited scope in regards to how the question can be answered and few options of essay questions to choose from. On the other hand, university coursework gives you much greater autonomy in your writing. Firstly, there is often a broad range of questions to choose from. I have greatly appreciated this difference, as it has enabled me to tailor my coursework and thus my degree towards the concepts and theories that I am most interested in. Secondly, the actual questions given at university often provide you with a much greater scope for how the question can be answered. As a result, this gives you the chance to discuss topics from your unique perspective, enabling you to connect and engage much deeper with the topics.

5. Greater time requirements

The time taken to undertake university coursework is often significantly greater than the time needed to do A-level essays. This is largely a result of the in-depth research and planning required to write coursework. Accordingly, knowing how to manage your time effectively to meet the required deadlines is a valuable skill which I have gained through doing coursework at LSE. By starting early and breaking down the workload into smaller sections, I have greatly improved my efficiency of doing coursework.

How to help ease the transition to university coursework

Whilst the transition of writing university coursework from writing A-level essays can be daunting at first, there are ways to make it easier. Through attending LSE LIFE’s workshops, I have been able to quickly pick up the skills needed to write good quality coursework at LSE. These workshops hosted by LSE LIFE provide a great means to develop many of the personal and academic skills needed to flourish academically, which are often not directly taught in your course.

About the author

Saoirse

Hello! My name is Saoirse. I'm in my second year at LSE, studying Environment and Development.

Posted In: Student life

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