Coursework comes in many forms and is considered effective for assessing student knowledge. In Britain, secondary school students are required to undertake different types of coursework in order to achieve GCSE qualifications. Although not compulsory, these courseworks are part of the examination process and are used to obtain school certification. As well as the British coursework system, virtually every university and college in the English-speaking world use written assignments as a means of examining student knowledge in various subject areas.

Written coursework is generally a lengthier undertaking than other types of academic assignments. The clear reason for this is that coursework writing is more akin to writing a dissertation, but quicker to complete. The student investigates various topics in order to produce a sizeable research project for assessment by their essays professors. To succeed, the student must keep pace with his/her class. This means taking notes during classes and lectures. And these notes, when carefully taken, can represent half the required work. It is advisable for any student who misses class to at least get the notes for it. For example, the following five steps are required in most types of courseworks:

  • Topic
  • Abstract
  • Introductory section
  • Research findings and analysis of same
  • Concluding paragraph

Topic and Abstract

All coursework starts off with topic selection. This should be an important or significant question that needs answering. Anyone who is unsure about the topic or doesn’t know where to begin should seek advice from his/her tutors or essay professors. While a tutor is not obliged to write your coursework, the/she should advise on sources and give you tips for getting started. It helps to start this type work with an approximate 200-word abstract (or executive summary). This normally summarizes any research work undertaken, explains any new terminology used, and describes why the topic is important. Abstracts are often written at the end because, by this time, the writer knows what the most important points are and how best to portray them in the abstract.

Introduction, Research Findings and Analysis

Every piece of written coursework, such as that used in the GCSE system, should be structured in an effective way. The introductory paragraph should flow naturally from the abstract. It should provide a more detailed explanation as to why the research is/was necessary and it should set out the hypotheses, which is usually a description of the topic the writer has been researching. Indeed, course work like this can have numerous hypotheses, provided you understand that as many as ten is excessive. There are a couple of things a hypothesis can do such as a) describe informal relationships, for example, X is caused by Y or b) describe the correlation between two entities i.e. how X and Y are related. The introductory paragraph should also describe any expectations and predictions, which should be elaborated on later. However, being a scientific work, these should have a solid foundation. Any charts, graphs and/or tables should be included in the Findings and Analysis section. These should be correctly numbered. While visual components add to the size and general impression of a project, it is better not to use them if they are not specifically required.


Last, but not least, the conclusion should be written. Re-assess the methodology used. How effective was it? Did it help produce the results you expected? If not, describe what could or should have been done in a different way to provide a more positive result. Critically analyze the procedures. Do your best to give your academic writing an independent look and feel for the reader. Re-emphasize the necessity of your work and how it might affect future endeavors in the particular field. Create a bibliography and ensure every source you used is accurately listed according to the style stipulated by your university or school. Check over your written work to make sure all headings/subheadings are correctly placed. Write a title or cover page if applicable. Edit your written courseworks – check grammar, spelling, punctuation, language use and style – and correct any errors. Finally, make sure the primary question has been answered before submitting your work.