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Making and supporting claims

We begin this topic by recalling a comment by Dr.Ian Copland from the Lecturer's Advice section.

The first thing you need to do is sit down with the essay question and work out what it means - to spell out the question in terms of a problem, and the beginnings of an hypothesis (a possible answer). You then need to expand that into a series of paragraphs which would consist of a main point (topic sentence) and evidence for each point. You should be able to see, going through the plan, how you get from the beginning to the conclusion. There should be some sort of logical progression, which may be chronological or may be related to certain themes you are exploring. So the better writers in our experience lay out for themselves some sort of outline before they launch into the drafting process.

In this section we focus on an example of successful paragraph writing from a student's essay. We shall see how this paragraph is organised around:

  • a main point (or topic sentence)
  • the suppporting of this main point with evidence drawn from primary sources.

The paragraph comes from an essay on the breakdown of the World War II alliance between the Western powers (the US and Britain) and the Soviet Union in the period after the Nazi defeat. In this paragraph the student mentions how the tensions between these powers first began as a war of words.

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