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Our Academic writing Practical Guide has in-depth support on all aspects of academic writing, including understanding the question and planning your work:

Planning an academic writing project

Doing any project takes time and academic writing projects are no exception. Planning it takes time; there's a lot to consider before you even start the planning process.

Here are ten #UoYTips on just that...

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Plan your time

A bit of planning will help you make sure you have time for everything you need to do for your assignments, and it'll help you avoid stress too.

For each assignment:

  • Analyse

    analyse the assignment question and make sure you understand the task

  • Reading & making notes

    make a list of all the stages you need to do to write your assignment (see Stages in assignment writing box)

  • Work to the deadline

    write down your assignment deadline and work backwards from this to plan in the different stages

  • Allow time

    allow extra time along the way in case something takes longer than you planned for

  • Take breaks

    allow extra time in the writing stage - having breaks between writing sections or drafts can help you when you come to review your work

Find more useful planning tips and tricks on the Skills Guides:

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Planning assignment structure

Once you've understood the task requirements, done some reading and come up with some ideas for what to include, you can start mapping out your assignment structure.

A good plan is key for a well-structured assignment - don't just launch into writing with no idea of where you're going!

This planning stage can also be a useful opportunity to think more deeply about the assignment and consider how the different ideas fit together, so it can help you develop your argument.

It's ok to make changes to your plan later - you might come up with more ideas, or another line of argumentation while writing. Make sure that you check the structure is still logical though!


Making a general plan:

  1. Make a list of the information and points to include.
  2. Organise similar points into groups.
  3. Put the groups in a logical order.
  4. Within each group, organise the points logically.
  5. Check the plan to make sure it meets task requirements.

Here's a step-by-step demonstration of planning assignment structure:

Planning: general structure [YouTube] | Planning: general structure [Google Doc]

More detailed advice on assignment structure: