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  • Article 8: Respect for your private and family life
  • Human Rights
  • Article 2: Right to life
  • Article 3: Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment
  • Article 4: Freedom from slavery and forced labour
  • Article 5: Right to liberty and security
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  • Article 7: No punishment without law
  • Article 9: Freedom of thought, belief and religion
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  • Article 11: Freedom of assembly and association
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  • Article 1 of the Thirteenth Protocol: Abolition of the death penalty

Article 8 protects your right to respect for your private and family life

Article 8 protects your right to respect for your private life, your family life, your home and your correspondence (letters, telephone calls and emails, for example).

What is meant by private life?

You have the right to live your life privately without government interference.

The courts have interpreted the concept of ‘private life’ very broadly. It covers things like your right to determine your sexual orientation, your lifestyle, and the way you look and dress. It also includes your right to control who sees and touches your body. For example, this means that public authorities cannot do things like leave you undressed in a busy ward, or take a blood sample without your permission.

The concept of private life also covers your right to develop your personal identity and to forge friendships and other relationships. This includes a right to participate in essential economic, social, cultural and leisure activities. In some circumstances, public authorities may need to help you enjoy your right to a private life, including your ability to participate in society.

This right means that the media and others can be prevented from interfering in your life. It also means that personal information about you (including official records, photographs, letters, diaries and medical records) should be kept securely and not shared without your permission, except in certain circumstances.

What is meant by family life?

You have the right to enjoy family relationships without interference from government. This includes the right to live with your family and, where this is not possible, the right to regular contact.

‘Family life’ can include the relationship between an unmarried couple, an adopted child and the adoptive parent, and a foster parent and fostered child.

See also the right to marry.

What is meant by home?

The right to respect for your home does not give you a right to housing. It is a right to enjoy your existing home peacefully. This means that public authorities should not stop you entering or living in your home without very good reason, and they should not enter without your permission. This applies whether or not you own your home.

See also the right to peaceful enjoyment of property .

Are there any restrictions to this right?

There are situations when public authorities can interfere with your right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence. This is only allowed where the authority can show that its action is lawful, necessary and proportionate in order to:

  • protect national security
  • protect public safety
  • protect the economy
  • protect health or morals
  • prevent disorder or crime, or
  • protect the rights and freedoms of other people.

Action is ‘proportionate’ when it is appropriate and no more than necessary to address the problem concerned.  

Using this right - example

A physical disabilities team at a local authority decided to use support workers to help service users enjoy social activities, including visits to pubs and clubs. But when a service user asked to be accompanied to a gay pub, the scheme manager refused on the grounds that the support workers were not prepared to attend a gay venue. Recognising the human rights angle, an advocate working on behalf of the service user challenged this decision based on the right to respect for private life.

(Example provided by the British Institute of Human Rights.)

What the law says

This text is taken directly from the Human Rights Act .

Article 8: Right to privacy

  • Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
  • There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Example case - Goodwin & I v United Kingdom [2002]

This case heard in the European Court of Human Rights explored issues for transsexual people in relation to their rights to private life and to marry. The judgment was a landmark decision for the treatment of transsexual people, a group which had not been recognised in UK law as:

  • their acquired gender
  • able to hold a birth certificate showing their acquired gender, and
  • able to marry someone of the opposite gender.

The Court ruled that this treatment violated both the right to private life and the right to marry. The UK Government later introduced the Gender Recognition Act 2004, creating a mechanism to enable all these things.

See the publication ‘ Human rights, human lives: a guide to the Human Rights Act for public authorities ’ for more examples and legal case studies that show how human rights work in practice.

Last updated: 24 Jun 2021

article 8 essay

Child Protection Resource

Collecting information, resources and support for everyone involved in the child protection system in the uk, proportionality and article 8 of the echr, what does this mean and why is it important, to protect individuals against arbitrary interference by public authorities, the european convention and the human rights act 1998.

‘Proportionality’ is the key concept to understanding how family law operates.  This comes from Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).

The Convention is protected by the European Court of Human Rights, which was established in 1959. For a useful introduction to the ECHR see this infographic from Rights Info  which discusses the basic structure of the European Court, who it protects and why it matters.  For further information and discussion about the scope of Article 8, see the ECHR on-line site . You can get the form to make an application to the European Court  and read the guide on how to make the application. 

Prior to the implementation of the   Human Rights Act 1998   (HRA), if you were complaining about a breach of the ECHR, you had to apply directly to the European Court in Strasbourg. Now, the HRA allows the ECHR to take ‘direct effect’ in domestic legislation.

Section 6 of the HRA and makes it clear that ‘public authorities’ – which includes local authorities who want to make applications for care orders – cannot act in a way which is incompatible with the ECHR, unless they are following statute law which they can’t interpret in a way to make it compatible.

If a Judge agrees that statute law is incompatible with the ECHR, he or she can make a ‘declaration of incompatibility’ which means the Government will have to think seriously about amending that statute.

For useful discussion about how Parliament in the UK and the European Court interact, see this discussion  from the House of Commons Library blog about parliamentary sovereignty and the European Convention.  

There has been much recent debate about whether or not the UK should keep the Human Rights Act; the perception of some is that we are subject to excessive interference from Europe in the way we want to manage our country. The fears of excessive interference are not reflected by the number of times the UK has been subject to criticism in the European Court of Human Rights. The House of Commons blog says:

Since the Court of Human Rights was established in 1959, it has delivered around 17,000 judgments. Nearly half of these concerned five Member States (Turkey, Italy, the Russian Federation, Poland and Romania) …  from 1959 to 2013, (and in purely numerical terms) the UK was responsible for 2.96% of the total violations found by the court (compared to Turkey who has been the worst offender, responsible for 17.75%).

A note of caution – disappearance of ‘human rights’ from the ‘Working Together’ guidance.

‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ is very important government guidance for all professionals in this field. It was first published in 1999. The 2010 edition contained useful and explicit mention of human rights and reminded professionals that data protection principles often engaged individual human rights.

However, some commentators have noted with concern that the most recent edition of the guidance contains only one reference to ‘data protection’ and no reference whatsoever to ‘human rights’. There is legitimate concern that the boundary is becoming blurred between children who are ‘in need’ and require help and children who are ‘at risk’ and require protection and the ‘air brushing’ out of any reference to human rights in the guidance is thus regrettable.

As Allan Norman comments:

If social workers stop caring about human rights, isn’t that like doctors stopping caring about health or lawyers about justice?

Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life

The two most frequently encountered Articles of the ECHR in care proceedings are Article 6 – the right to a fair trial – and Article 8. There is clearly some overlap between the two – if your right to a fair trial is compromised in care proceedings, this may have implications for your family life.

Article 8 provides:

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. 2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Therefore, we can see that Article 8 rights are not ‘absolute’ but can be over ruled when:

  • it is lawful to do so;
  • it is necessary to do so, for example, to protect health or morals.

The ambit of Article 8 rights

In Pretty v UK (2002) 35 EHRR 1 at paragraph 61 the ECtHR made the following comment about the ambit of Article 8:

As the Court has had previous occasion to remark, the concept of “private life” is a broad term not susceptible to exhaustive definition. It covers the physical and psychological integrity of the person. It can sometimes embrace aspects of an individual’s physical and social identity. Elements such as, for example, gender identification, name and sexual orientation and sexual life fall within the personal sphere protected by Article 8. Article 8 also protects a right to personal development, and the right to establish and develop relationships with other human beings and the outside world. Though no previous case has established any such right to self determination as being contained in Article 8 of the Convention, the Court considers that the notion of personal autonomy is an important principle underlying the interpretation of its guarantees.

With regard to the ambit of ‘family life’ Article 8 covers:

Article 8 ECHR provides that everyone has the right to respect for family life. The European Court of Human Rights interprets the term ‘family life’ autonomously. Forms of cohabitation or personal relationships which are not recognized as falling in the ambit of ‘family life’ in the jurisdiction of a contracting state can still enjoy protection by article 8; family life is not confined to legally acknowledged relationships. The Court is led by social, emotional and biological factors rather than legal considerations when assessing whether a relationship is to be considered as ‘family life’ .

How do we decide if Article 8 rights should be over-ruled in a particular case?

This is where proportionality comes into play. It cannot be ‘necessary’ to breach someone’s rights if they way you propose to breach them is well in excess of what is needed to prevent harmful consequences.

For example, in some cases, there are worries that a parent is finding it hard to cope at home and this is having a bad impact on the children. The LA are considering care proceedings, but family and friends offer to help. In those circumstances it probably would not be ‘proportionate’ to demand that this parent give up his or her children for adoption or even  have the children go to live with foster carers for a short time.

A more proportionate response would be for everyone to meet and discuss what they could do to keep the children safe at home.

However, if a child is seriously injured at home and his parents can’t or won’t say what happened, then it probably will be proportionate to remove the child immediately from his parents’ care.  

See our post on interim removals and emergency protection orders.

The issue of proportionality was discussed by the Supreme Court in Re B i n 2013  when considering an appeal against the trial judge’s decision that it was proportionate to remove a child for adoption.

115. Into all of this discussion, however, must come the question of proportionality. Significantly different considerations are in play when the proportionality of the decision is in issue. A decision as to whether a particular outcome is proportionate involves asking oneself, is it really necessary. That question cannot be answered by saying that someone else with whose judgment I am reluctant to interfere, or whose judgment can be defended, has decided that it is necessary. It requires the decision-maker, at whatever level the decision is made, to starkly confront the question, “is this necessary”. If an appellate court decides that it would not have concluded that it was necessary, even though it can understand the reasons that the first instance court believed it to be so, or if it considered that the decision of the lower court was perfectly tenable, it cannot say that the decision was proportionate.

For an example of a case where the Court of Appeal thought removing children was not a proportionate response, see K (Children) [2014].

Is the Children Act 1989 compatible with Article 8 of the ECHR?

Short answer – yes. For a recent example of when the UK was challenged by Latvia over the legitimacy of its care proceedings, see this post. 

When the Human Rights Act came into force, there was a lot of interest in testing the Children Act 1989 to see if it was compatible with the ECHR.

One challenge was to the fact that once  a care order is made, it is up to the LA to decide how to make it work and the court does not have any power to interfere with those decisions. The House of Lords (as they were then called; they are now the Supreme Court) considered whether or not this was compatible with Article 8 in the case of In re S [2002] UKHL 10.  The lawyers argued that the court should continue to oversee what the LA was doing by way of ‘starred care plans’ – which identified issues in the care plan which should be kept under review and brought back to court if necessary.

The House of Lords rejected that argument and held that introducing this new supervisory role for the courts would go far beyond simply ‘interpreting’ the Children Act; it would be introducing a new role for the courts and only Parliament had the power to do that. To entrust a local authority with the sole responsibility for a child’s care, once the ‘significant harm’ threshold has been established, is not of itself an infringement of article 8.

53. The essential purpose of this article is to protect individuals against arbitrary interference by public authorities. In addition to this negative obligation there are positive obligations inherent in an effective concept of ‘respect’ for family life: see Marckx v Belgium (1979) 2 EHRR 330, 342, paragraph 31. In both contexts a fair balance has to be struck between the competing interests of the individual and the community as a whole: see Hokkanen v Finland (1994) 19 EHRR 139, 168-169, paragraph 55. 54. Clearly, if matters go seriously awry, the manner in which a local authority discharges its parental responsibilities to a child in its care may violate the rights of the child or his parents under this article. The local authority’s intervention in the life of the child, justified at the outset when the care order was made, may cease to be justifiable under article 8(2). Sedley LJ pointed out that a care order from which no good is coming cannot sensibly be said to be pursuing a legitimate aim. A care order which keeps a child away from his family for purposes which, as time goes by, are not being realised will sooner or later become a disproportionate interference with the child’s primary article 8 rights: see paragraph 45 of his judgment. 55. Further, the local authority’s decision making process must be conducted fairly and so as to afford due respect to the interests protected by article 8. For instance, the parents should be involved to a degree which is sufficient to provide adequate protection for their interests: W v United Kingdom (1987) 10 EHRR 29, 49-50, paragraphs 62-64. 56. However, the possibility that something may go wrong with the local authority’s discharge of its parental responsibilities or its decision making processes, and that this would be a violation of article 8 so far as the child or parent is concerned, does not mean that the legislation itself is incompatible, or inconsistent, with article 8. The Children Act imposes on a local authority looking after a child the duty to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare. Before making any decision with respect to such a child the authority must, so far as reasonably practicable, ascertain the wishes and feelings of the child and his parents: section 22. Section 26 provides for periodic case reviews by the authority, including obtaining the views of parents and children. One of the required reviews is that every six months the local authority must actively consider whether it should apply to the court for a discharge of the care order: see the Review of Children’s Cases Regulations 1991 (SI 1991 No. 895). Every local authority must also establish a procedure for considering representations, including complaints, made to it by any child who is being looked after by it, or by his parents, about the discharge by the authority of its parental responsibilities for the child. 57. If an authority duly carries out these statutory duties, in the ordinary course there should be no question of infringement by the local authority of the article 8 rights of the child or his parents. Questions of infringement are only likely to arise if a local authority fails properly to discharge its statutory responsibilities. Infringement which then occurs is not brought about, in any meaningful sense, by the Children Act. Quite the reverse. Far from the infringement being compelled, or even countenanced, by the provisions of the Children Act, the infringement flows from the local authority’s failure to comply with its obligations under the Act. True, it is the Children Act which entrusts responsibility for the child’s care to the local authority. But that is not inconsistent with article 8. Local authorities are responsible public authorities, with considerable experience in this field. Entrusting a local authority with the sole responsibility for a child’s care, once the ‘significant harm’ threshold has been established, is not of itself an infringement of article 8. There is no suggestion in the Strasbourg jurisprudence that absence of court supervision of a local authority’s discharge of its parental responsibilities is itself an infringement of article 8.

Reforms following this decision

However, although the House of Lords rejected the idea of ‘starred care plans’, they were troubled by the absence of any identified individual who would oversee and intervene if a LA were not offering good enough care to children after the court hearing was over. This could be particularly serious if a child had no parent who was willing or able to make complaints on their behalf and could lead to an infringement of the child’s human rights.

Lord Nicholls said at paragraph 106:

I must finally make an observation of a general character. In this speech I have sought to explain my reasons for rejecting the Court of Appeal’s initiative over starred milestones. I cannot stress too strongly that the rejection of this innovation on legal grounds must not obscure the pressing need for the Government to attend to the serious practical and legal problems identified by the Court of Appeal or mentioned by me. One of the questions needing urgent consideration is whether some degree of court supervision of local authorities’ discharge of their parental responsibilities would bring about an overall improvement in the quality of child care provided by local authorities. Answering this question calls for a wider examination than can be undertaken by a court. The judgments of the Court of Appeal in the present case have performed a valuable service in highlighting the need for such an examination to be conducted without delay.
  • The Independent Reviewing Officer

The Government responded with Section 118 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 which amended section 26 of the Children Act 1989 and established the role of Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO).

The job of the IRO is to improve outcomes for looked after children by reviewing each child’s care plan and ensure that the child’s wishes and feelings are considered. They must:

  • monitor the local authority’s performance of their functions in relation to the child’s case
  • participate in any review of the child’s case
  • ensure that any ascertained wishes and feelings of the child concerning the case are given due consideration by the appropriate authority
  • perform any other function which is prescribed in regulations.
  • promote the voice of the child
  • ensure that plans for looked after children are based on a detailed and informed assessment, are up-to-date, effective and provide a real and genuine response to each child’s needs
  • identify any gaps in the assessment process or provision of service
  • making sure that the child understands how an advocate could help and his/her entitlement to one
  • offer a safeguard to prevent any ‘drift’ in care planning for looked after children and the delivery of services to them
  • monitor the activity of the responsible authority as a corporate parent in ensuring that care plans have given proper consideration and weight to the child’s wishes and feelings and that, where appropriate, the child fully understands the implications of any changes made to his/her care plan.

See our post about the role of the Independent Reviewing Officer for more information. 

Further reading/listening

June 2016 – Podcast from barrister David Bedingfield of 4 Paper Buildings ‘ Proportionality and Public Law Children Cases’. 

33 thoughts on “ Proportionality and Article 8 of the ECHR ”

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This is a really helpful explanation of Article 8 in care proceedings, thanks. Also useful for students!

It might be worth adding that although the House of Lords rejected the Court of Appeal’s idea of a starred care plan, they did identify some potential gaps in processes whereby plans could be reviewed and challenged after the order. This led to the establishment of the role the independent reviewing officer (IRO), I believe.

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Thanks – good point and will amend post to include.

Have amended post to include reference to the Independent Reviewing Officer – hope this is helpful.

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The saddest thing about Article 8 is the way uk judges have turned it on its head to frustrate the purposes for which it was formulated ! Clearly those who drafted an article stating that all should have the right to a private family life undisturbed by public authority intended it to be a protection for the family against unecessary interference by the State. When I studied law more than 50 years ago I was taught that statutes should be interpreted as far as possible to give effect to the purposes for which those who drafted the law intended ; Uk judges have instead against all logic turned article 8 into a weapon used by the State to silence protesting families in case by protesting publicly they breached the privacy of the baby or child in question ! Article 8 protects the UK State against families !! By gagging parents who try to protest publicly against a perceived injustice they contravene the purpose of the Act which was to protect families from the State not vice versa and I find that very sad………..

You may have studied law a very long time ago but I assume your reading comprehension levels remain adequate to allow you to read the text of Article 8. Having done so, you will quickly discover that it is NOT an absolute right as you seem to state in your comment.

It can and it should be ‘disturbed’ by the state when it is found that the vulnerable are at risk.

It is always a matter of interest to me that objections to the current system appear largely based on anger that anyone should dare to presume to ‘meddle’ with the family and the rights of the adults in that family to do whatever they like and treat children however they wish and only the criminal law could or should stop them.

The anger is that a law passed to protect families from the State has been misinterpreted by the judges to gag the parents and so protect the Stare any families who dare to protest publicly ! Sarah you do love to misquote others (not only me) and then demolish the absurd misquotations made by yourself ! But what a sterile way to pusue an argument…….. I never said that anything was an absolute right , and I never said adults should be able to treat children how they like with only criminal law to stop them. I do say children should never be taken for adoption or long term fostercare from law abiding citizens;Minor misdemeanours (slapping but not bruising for example) deserve minor forms of correction,parenting classes maybe?

I apologise if I misquoted you. I am glad you recognise Article 8 is not absolute. But you have repeatedly said that only parents convicted of crimes should have their Article 8 rights infringed by removal of their children. If you don’t accept that some children need to be removed from parents who are not convicted of crimes, what do you propose to safeguard them?

No children should be removed from sane law abiding citizens but other measures such as parenting classes can be taken in some cases. My main point however is that judges use a measure intended to protect parents from the state to protect the State from outraged parents by gagging them because of alleged privacy !

What is your experience of the efficacy of ‘parenting classes’ for parents with drug/alcohol addiction/mental illness/serious learning disabilities?

Judges and lawyers deliberately deceive parents !

If at the conclusion of the case the family court judge as says the usual “I refuse leave to appeal”that is not final at all though both the judge and your lawyers would like you to think it is .They rarely tell parents the truthful position and later judges remark that the parent FAILED TO APPEAL as though this mean’t they accepted the loss of their children. Do not hesitate therefore to ignore the judge’s initial refusal. Just go back to the court and apply for an oral hearing asking for permission to appeal !

In the case of Vicky Haigh; L.J.Wall (at that time President of the family court) deceived the public when he claimed that Vicky had refused supervised contact with her daughter who had accused her father of sexual abuse and therefore was justifiably deprived of any future contact whatever ! What he omitted to say was that she merely refused to sign an agreement with the “SS” stating that she was quite content for her daughter to remain in full exclusive custody of her father and only because she refused to sign that document was she deprived of all contact direct and indirect with her daughter for many years right up to the present day.Later when she met met with the father and her daughter at a petrol station where the father had pulled up to fill up his car, she was sentenced to 3 years jail for speaking to her own daughter as this mean’t she was breaking the court order forbidding her contact of any kind ! Wall also mentioned speaking of the earlier case “she did not appeal” failing to mention that as in so many cases the lawyers had failed to do so despite their client’s instructions . (too much like hard work?)

The court did not accept that Vicky Haigh ‘innocently’ just happened upon her daughter at a petrol station. This is the same child that Vicky Haigh deliberately brainwashed to say that her father had sexually abused her, when he had not. This is the same child who does not have any contact with her mother, because of her mother’s own appalling behaviour.

the fact that you wave a flag for Vicky Haigh, a child abuser, is not surprising. I assume its the same flag you wave for Marie Black.

How much money have you given Vicky Haigh?

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I ask Sarah’s advice here as I am uncertain how much value our Family Court puts on ‘invisible’ provisions of the Law. This is an extract from ECHR advice sheets.


There are several invisible provisions of the Convention- concepts and rights which are not to be found expressly anywhere in the wording of the text but which have become over the years an integral part of Convention Law.

Of these PROPORTIONALITY is the most significant and is at the heart of all justification for interference with Convention rights.There are a number of key tests which can be applied to any Convention question:

1. Have ” relevant and sufficient reasons” been advanced for any interference with a convention right? Is it necessary in a democratic society”/ Does it correspond to a ” pressing social need”?

2. Is there an alternative which would have interfered less? Has it been considered? Have relevant and sufficient reasons been given for rejecting it?

3. Were procedural safeguards both in place and observed so as to avoid the possibility of abuse?

4.Does the interference operate so as to ” impair the very essence of the right “?

The test of proportionality therefore needs to be added to those tests already familiar to English lawyers and in particular to the concept of Wednesbury unreasonableness. ______________________________________

As a layman, I would say that no.3 is fairly absolute and supports my view that appeal is the only remedy when the Local Authority fails to conduct a case correctly. In respect of no. 4, I would say that removing children from natural family disproportionally certainly “impairs the very essence of the right ”

All comments welcome.

Yes, lawyers and courts are generally very well aware of all the implications of Article 8 – there are very many reported cases now discussing all angles and I would think any family lawyer/judge who wasn’t fully aware of these principles would be incompetent.

The problem is that ‘proportionality’ will inevitably involve some subjective assessment. Ian Josephs for example, clearly has a high tolerance regarding issues of violence in the home and does not think a child should be removed unless a parent has been convicted of a criminal offence regarding such violence. He does not think it is ‘proportionate’ to remove a child who is frequently exposed to violence in the home and whose parents cannot or will not take action to keep the child safe. However, there is no judge that I am aware of who would agree with him. It is entirely ‘proportionate’ and hence lawful in their eyes to remove these children. Given that the Children Act 1989 has not been successfully challenged in the European Court, it would appear that our approach is approved by those who enforce the European Convention.

Hopefully I will have time today to cut and paste some of your comments to form a post so that the points you make do not get lost.

Can any decision be proportionate if:-

a) Procedural safeguards are not in place,or b) they are not observed?

Yes. Particularly if situation is urgent. But you would have to examine such a decision very carefully. Lack of compliance with procedure does not automatically render a decision unlawful. Just as correct compliance with procedure does not automatically confer lawfulness.

So what about the key question of the possibility of abuse? Surely lawyer fully understand that when safeguards aren’t observed by sw’s ,on the balance of probabilities they are abusing the system. It probably renders a decision unlawful.Perhaps okay in less serious cases but not in those where removal to be considered.

If safeguards not enforced scrupulously in family courts then that goes against High Court ( common law), many will think. The High Court considers that removal rarely necessary then only when all safeguards followed.

Family Courts which regularly allow safeguards to be compromised not fit to hear serious cases or to hand out sanctions that exceed any which normal courts can. No criminal judge would tear a family apart permanently even if he or she gaoled a parent for ten years! If safeguards were not observed,a retrial would be ordered,I presume,as is proportionate with serious cases. Sarah, what about this compromise? In the criminal justice system ,there are two levels.In a serious case, a suspect can ask to be dealt with in Crown Court. How about two levels of Family Court?

1:-Note the observation of Supreme Court Judge Baroness Hale of Richmond JSC (para 143):“We are all frail human beings, with our fair share of unattractive character traits, which sometimes manifest themselves in bad behaviours which may be copied by our children. But the State does not and cannot take away the children of all the people who commit crimes, who abuse alcohol or drugs, who suffer from physical or mental illnesses or disabilities, or who espouse antisocial political or religious beliefs

.2:-Orders contemplating non-consensual adoption – care orders with a plan for adoption, placement orders and adoption orders – are “a very extreme thing, a last resort”, only to be made where “nothing else will do”, where “no other course is possible in [the child’s] interests”, they are “the most extreme option”, a “last resort – when all else fails” – Munby LJ(now President of the family courts) in Re B

3:-MR JUSTICE MOSTYN said”PARA 35. The proposition of the merits of adoption is advanced almost as a truism but if it is a truism it is interesting to speculate why only three out of 28 European Union countries allow forced or non-consensual adoption. One might ask: why are we so out of step with the rest of Europe? One might have thought if it was obvious that forced adoption was the gold standard the rest of Europe would have hastened to have adopted it. The relevance of this aspect of the case is surely obvious.” ii.Link – http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2014/3388.htm

4:-I also remind readers of the wise words of Hedley J in Re L (Threshold Conditions) [2007] 1 FLR 2050:“Many parents are hypochondriacs, many parents are criminals or benefit cheats, many parents discriminate against ethnic or sexual minorities, many parents support vile political parties or belong to unusual or militant religions. All of these follies are visited upon their children, who may well adopt or ‘model’ them in their own lives but those children could not be removed for those reasons.”

5:-Lord Templeman inRe KD 1988:

The best person to bring up a child is the natural parent. It matters not whether the parent is wise or foolish, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, provided the child’s moral and physical health are not in danger. Public authorities cannot improve on nature


1: Lord Justice Thorpe said There is nothing more serious than a removal hearing, because the parents are so prejudiced in proceedings thereafter.

2: Lord Justice Wall (the former Senior family court judge) said that the determination of some social workers to place children in an “unsatisfactory care system” away from their families was “quite shocking”.

3: In a separate case on which Sir Nicholas Wall also sat, Lord Justice Aikens described the actions of social workers in Devon as “more like Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China than the West.”

What’s your point? Yes, society can’t police every single inadequate parents. That is why the test is significant harm. But you don’t think what Vicky Haigh did to her child was ‘significant harm’. You are wrong.

Let us say that Vicky Haigh was guilty as charged and (for the sake of argument) did harm her daughter by coaching her so that the father was given custody..The question of proportionality then should be considered. There is no way that she and her daughter should be fobidden to communicate with each other by phone, email or even a birthday card(for which Vicky was briefly jailed). To sentence her to 3 years jail for speaking to her daughter( whom she had not seen for 2 years,) at a petrol station in defiance of a court order forbidding mother and daughter to converse was so excessive it was reduced by 5 months on appeal but still was inhuman.It should have been clearly stated in court that there was no way that Vicky could have known that her ex husband was going to fill up with petrol at that station at that time and on that day.He probably did not know it himself ! Before Sarah goes on about Christopher and myself banging the drum for the likes of Vicky Haigh and Marie Black I can only say yet again that we bang on when a court acts unfairly or contrary to home office guidelines and never do you hear us shout that a verdict was wrong ,only that the verdict was unsafe or the sentence excessive, because of the way the court was conducted in both cases.

never do you hear us shout that a verdict was wrong ,only that the verdict was unsafe or the sentence excessive. Interesting. So Vicky Haigh DID abuse her daughter and Marie Black IS a child rapist – you just don’t think either of them should be prevented having children in their care?

The court did not accept Vicky Haigh ‘innocently’ chanced upon her daughter. the court found it was deliberate harassment and breach of a previous order. This little girl now doesn’t want to see her mother because of what her mother has done to her.

It is indeed a tragic situation for all, but the fact that Vicky Haigh went to prison and doesn’t see her child is the fault of nobody but herself – and whichever irresponsible idiots have been encouraging her along the way to behave so badly and with so little understanding of her daughter’s needs.

It would be great Sarah if you read what I actually wrote not what you imagine I might have written ! I never said Vicky abused her daughter and I never said Marie was a rapist. I never said they should have children in their care if they were guilty. Neither you nor the court can explain how Vicky was supposed to know that her ex would choose to fill up with petrol at that service station and at that time. with their daughter in the car ! It is an abuse of the children to deprive them of all indirect contact with their mothers and their is no evidence that Vick’s daughter does not wish to see her. Jail for sending a birthday card that never got there?

Carla, You say the test is significant harm. Please clarify it. Do you mean the test for the issue of a care-order or other order or are you saying that it is the test for permanent removal?

I don’t know who Carla is but I can answer that question.

Before the state is allowed to interfere in family life it has to show that its actions are necessary, lawful and proportionate. The test in care proceedings is – is the child suffering or at serious risk of suffering significant harm? If the answer to that is ‘yes’ the court must decide what order best protects the child – so it could be a care order, a supervision order or even no order at all.

If it is dispute between parents then the court takes the child’s welfare as paramount and asks itself which parents is the best able to meet the child’s needs, including his need to have a relationship with both parents. That is why Vicky Haigh can’t have a relationship with her daughter – because she abused her by telling her shocking lies about her father and attempting to destroy that relationship. the court wouldn’t let her do that, rightly so.

I repeat that Vicky was never convicted of any criminal offence except that of speaking to her daughter contrary to a court orcer.NO fact finding found that she had coached her daughter .She did not deny however that she believed what her daughter had reported to her teacher (who believed it too) and to the police and that was enough to forbid her from any contact of any kind whilst the mother of baby P happily saw her surviving children in jail befor setting out with a new name and an anonymous new life and new job at vast public expense; Vicky now trains racehorses in France (which she could not do if she was “undesirable” let alone a criminal) and cares for her youngest three year old daughter born in France and safe from UK social services. Lastly ,because neither Christopher or I dispute verdicts it certainly does not mean we agree with them.It does mean that we often think they are unsafe usually because of the outrageous behaviour of the family courts and social services and that a fair retrial should take place.

Ian, The Social Workers will continue as long as Lawyers allow them to get away with it! The lawyers have double standards. They will protest immediately when a parent breaks a court order (when they represent the LA’s) yet they are pussycats( when working for parents) apparently. LA’s can flout procedures AND court orders seemingly more or less at will.Have any been gaoled recently? Please forgive me for ‘thinking’ such things if I am wrong and they have,readers.

No they can’t. And there is a wealth of case law to show that when LA flout orders, the court holds them to account.

I am so pleased to hear sw’s are being held to account nowadays Are they gaoled? Are they sacked? Are they sent for retraining, demoted and moved to ‘light’ duties even? Sarah, I am sorry for asking these questions but parents guess they aren’t.

If you go to the Community Care site, they report frequently on what happens to SW who are found to lie etc. They are usually struck off. I don’t think many are sent to prison. If they are not struck off then re-training is recommended.

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Not always!!!!! Not sure if enough exclamation marks

If the LA are FOUND to have acted in appropriately the court will ALWAYS hold them to account. this is the rule of law. the problems arise if parents assert that the LA HAVE acted wrongly but the court refused to recognise that or the court don’t think the misbehaviour is so serious.

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Sarah phillimore you are a mindless legal robot for a wicked and corrupt “legal” system {Snore. Abuse. Redacted. Come back when you have something to say}

Actually Sarah has done a tremendous amount over the years to highlight abuse and the shortcomings in the system. She doesn’t always agree with parents but she does give them a voice. I do understand your anger; I hope you eventually find some peace. I speak as a parent, who has been through the wringer like yourself.

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Guest Essay

I Don’t Need to Be a ‘Good Person.’ Neither Do You.

article 8 essay

By Jamieson Webster

Dr. Webster is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst.

T here is no end of advice these days on how to be a good person, how to make good decisions, how to be mindful and compassionate, how to have boundaries, how to be open, how to be assertive, how not to be self-effacing, how to be politically invested, how to live in the now, how to live in a world that demands immediacy, how to think about the future, how not to think too much about the future, how not to think. For a certain kind of person — the person who, usually, strives to be a responsible parent, a sensitive friend, an upright citizen, a person who tries to care about their community — it can be impossible not to succumb to the incessant urge to mimic someone else’s supposed balance and feeling of wellness in life. What do we even know about them really?

I’m increasingly seeing this in my work as a therapist in New York City. So are my colleagues. One said to me recently that he was tired of listening to his patients talk about the impossible advice inhaled on Instagram and TikTok — to say nothing of the self-help industry. “Doesn’t anyone come asking to be more free ?” he exclaimed. “They don’t,” I said pessimistically. “Everyone wants to make the right decisions.” The problem is it’s very hard to tell someone that pursuing the abstract question of “right and wrong” ways to live will lead you into a cul-de-sac. It avoids the deeper question of desire, and desire is a compass.

The promised image of goodness skirts pleasures that — for obscure reasons — you aren’t sure you can want. I see patients grow fearful when they can’t tell if what they desire is compulsive — just another rote, maybe addictive, behavior, or a real attempt to test the boundaries they live under. How do you locate free will in a world this compulsory? Unsettling desires challenge our perception of who we are and what life might look like. This boundary, the testing of it, takes time and care. Importantly, you come to see that limits cannot be held or crossed under compulsion. They must be approached freely.

article 8 essay

“I, a gay man, regularly consume homophobic chicken.”

My patients have spent time on the couch struggling with the joys and pains that come with their wish to take drugs, not to expand consciousness but just because; quit their job, not to re-evaluate life but simply to stop working (along with the bonus pleasure of thumbing their nose at their employers); or give in to an irksome captivation with the wrong person at the absolutely wrong time. After a futile struggle with my son over Call of Duty, I finally heard what drew him to play: the twisted entertainment of uttering the most obscene, vicious and, yes, witty words for the killcam seen by the other player before being exited from the video game. I had little sense he was honing his verbal acuity by playing when I set out to curb him.

These pursuits certainly aren’t what you ought to do — much less post about — and yet I find that it’s when we dwell on our secret enjoyments that we learn the most about ourselves. Sexual and aggressive feelings, veering self-destructive, are finally confronted without the veneer of rationalization.

Limits cannot hold when it comes to pleasure. What is too much one day is not enough on another. What is too much for one person is just enough for another. And so on. This trouble with pleasure can be lived with. What seemingly can’t is the feeling that the basic laws that shore up our society are only just functioning; every day we face new evidence of how ruthlessly these are being undermined by those in power. As if to make up for this vacuum — while not really doing much about it — I think we now seek to impose rules on ourselves and shame on others. Whom do we really want to control?

O nce upon a time, America incorporated a diversity of religions and cultures into its vast nation, which multiplied, splintered, adapted, shattered into a panoply. Each of these was an island with its own carefully constructed economy of virtue and vice. I think of 19th-century spiritual fervor and 1960s cults of liberation. These were turbulent and unwieldy experiments that ran the gamut of prohibiting sexuality absolutely to enforcing its supposedly open expression.

Now the internet has given us access to all of it, all at once, and none of it in its real, embodied, sensually lived and shared forms. It’s not making people feel any more optimistic. All the ways we now seek to manage ourselves deaden the little freedom we have, the possibility of exploring our wildest and worst fantasies in order to reconcile with them, and with it, take advantage of the minor pleasures we might achieve in life. In a world wrought with so much excess, I still believe this is true for each and every one of us.

article 8 essay

“Sometimes when I should be answering emails, I’m high up on a ladder huffing paint instead.”

The feeling of transgression, framed by guilt, fascinated Sigmund Freud. For him, transgression was always tied to parental expectations or self-reproach for criticisms of those whom we once revered. Breaking taboos shakes you to the core. Hiding this personal affair under the collective judgments bandied about on the internet — dressed up in the language of therapy speak — isn’t bringing us closer to knowing what is in our own hearts. This new godlike, all-knowing critic has us by the proverbial nose.

Listening to my patients, I’ve come to wonder if piety, an infinite demand for dutiful conduct and unthinking reverence, is what is being asked of us endlessly in the current climate. Feelings of guilt and shame hover about like a thick fog. Even forms of defiant transgression — those of the online provocateurs, the proudly “problematic” comedians, the contrarian would-be intellectuals — seem an admission, compulsively flirting with punishment. We are failing to get at the real nature of our desires. A new sanctimoniousness is leaving us without a feeling for what is true or real, both thin-skinned and disaffected.

I ’m reading Annie Ernaux. She published her diary, “Getting Lost,” about a torrid affair at 50, after a long, stable marriage that left her dissatisfied. “It’s obvious that nothing is more desirable and dangerous than losing the sense of self,” she writes, “at least in my case.” And later: “For five years, I’ve ceased to experience with shame what can be experienced with pleasure and triumph (sexuality, jealousy, class differences). Shame spreads over everything, prevents further progress.” She only discovered passion, and its likeness to writing, later in life. This was less the story of an erotic tryst than a tale of “how dearly we pay for happiness” and the principle, “wondrous and terrifying,” of desire.

Many of my patients are mired in a shame that flattens them, making searching for pleasure impossible. I always laugh when I remember a turning point for one of them. He kept repeating to me that one thing or another “just wasn’t working out.” Thinking about the ways he neglected feelings of exhilaration in his body, I said to him that every time he said that I kept imagining him going to the gym. A silly comment on the surface, it nevertheless touched him deeply. “Working out” was a heavy topic for his parents, embroiled in politics. He broke free for a short time through a different kind of labor — one more manual, athletic, tactile, erotic. In adolescence he took a job in an automobile shop, played with carpentry, started drawing, chased girls. Returning to these memories opened up a new intensity, exploring riotous sexual fantasies about me, questioning himself ruthlessly as a parent too easily frustrated by his children’s wants, and riding a motorcycle again.

Another patient, a teenager, asked me after many years if she could speak frankly about sex — was this the kind of thing I did? I smiled, and said, “Try me.” She told me about moments of intimacy in which she always felt held back, behind a glass wall. “Even when I was caught in a rainstorm the other day, I couldn’t just enjoy it , like I was looking at the image of someone caught in a rainstorm but not actually in it.” She went on to express concerns I had heard before, about being damaged, or maybe autistic, or the kind of person who was too critical of others — like her parents. “Sounds like you want more pleasure than you’ve been able to experience yet,” I said. She laughed and told me at 12 she somehow had the courage to buy a vibrator. It surprised me. I saw her as so anxious and muted then, but already she was on the hunt! The dam broke between her and her girlfriend over the next few weeks. I’ll always marvel at the fact that speaking about wanting more in therapy invites this elusive more .

Listening to patients, it feels to me like we’ve reached a real pitch of delirium regarding generalized advice, prescriptions, moral codes for behavior and images of some supposedly achievable balance. This infinite pedagogical universe was recently, and aptly, named the shame-industrial complex ; poured out from every angle of life on social media, pushed by algorithms. In this vertigo we’ve forgotten that no one knows, or has ever known, what it really means to be an adult. Also that pleasure is hard-won, small, ephemeral; singular to each person. Wishes are historically overdetermined — meaning it really is your pleasure, and your pleasure only.

article 8 essay

“I’m not a drunk. And I’m not a liar. But I am, unequivocally, a drunk liar.”

The more we could recognize the individuality and multiplicity of desires, Freud thought, the more judicious we would become as a society. There is no formula that fits all. There is no formula that even fits most. Our difficulty really letting loose — and even then, how conflicted we fundamentally remain about stretching our identities — should make us more empathic toward the fumbling, messy choices of others, without thinking we know what is best.

H aving a second child was the most transgressive thing I’ve done in my life. From the outside, I know this sounds ridiculous. What could be less transgressive? There are no second-child police. There is no rule that prohibits this act. It’s a readily available option. Quite common, one might say. I know that only my psychoanalyst could really understand the fight with myself that I endured. The boundary was set in stone, one that spoke to a stillbirth in the family before my birth, a vague decree that having children was expensive and imprudent, some image of what it meant to be a “good” girl (i.e., not sexual), a criticism of my family where I was the only child, a feeling that I would jeopardize my career, and the necessity that I get behind this desire without cover.

What I found, after much work in analysis, is that there is no justification possible, no matter how hard I tried to find it. I want what I want because I want it. You have to live with your choices which are more or less inexplicable to others. The pleasure my daughter gives me is untold, sometimes even disturbing, as if I tempted fate and stole something precious from the gods. And, I confess, despite all this, I revived my occasional smoking habit again after she was born. I just wasn’t willing to let the feeling fade away — not yet.

We are contradictory creatures, wondrously and terrifyingly so.

Jamieson Webster ( @jamiesonwebster ) is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst and a professor at the New School. She is the author, most recently, of “Disorganization and Sex.”

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Article 8 | Right to private and family life

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Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides as follows:

(1) Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. (2) There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

The corresponding provision in the EU Charter, Article 7, is essentially the same as Article 8 ECHR except that “correspondence” has been changed to “communications” to take account of changing technology in this area. Although it does not set out the clawback provisions in the way that Article 8 ECHR does, the explanatory note to the text of Article 7 of the Charter makes it clear that the rights it lays out are intended to be subject to the limitations set out in Article 8(2) ECHR.

Article 8 is one of the most open-ended of the Convention rights, covering a growing number of issues and extending to protect a range of interests that do not fit into other Convention categories. This is partly because neither the Commission, when it was still in existence, nor the Court in its present incarnation, have attempted any comprehensive definition of Article 8 interests, adapting them to meet changing times.

Article 8 contains both negative and positive obligations. The state is under a negative obligation not to interfere with privacy rights, but in addition Strasbourg case law has also extended Article 8 to impose a positive duty to take measures to prevent private parties from interfering with these rights: (1) X (2) Y v the Netherlands (1985) 8 EHRR 235.

There are four express protected interests under Article 8:

(1) private life; (2) home; (3) family; (4) correspondence.

Most actions have been decided under the right to respect for private life, although they may involve incidental claims to respect for home, family or correspondence.  The requirement to provide “respect” for all four interests has reinforced the positive obligations on states, rather than simply requiring them to refrain from interfering with these interests. Thus it is that in recent years increasing attempts have been made to spread Article 8’s remit to social and economic claims on the welfare, like access to medical treatment and drugs; it is fair to say that the courts have, in general, resisted such claims by repeatedly holding   that Article 8 is simply not engaged (that is, cannot be invoked) in relation to the provision of medical resources.

Nor does the State had a “positive obligation” under Article 8 to enable a sufferer from severe mental bipolar disorder to obtain, without a prescription, a substance enabling him to end his life without pain and without risk of failure: Haas v Switzerland (2011), an application which was made following the success of the Diane Pretty case under Article 2 (see our repost on this case).

A far more effective series of claims have been made under Article 8 to overcome immigration controls when children are involved in removal or deportation decisions; see our posts on children in detention centres, in deportation decisions  and the effect of this particular aspect of Article 8 in immigration matters generally . The European Court of Justice has weighed in with its own application of Article 8 ECHR to stress the obligation on national authorities to take into account the right to respect for family life in immigration matters:see C-127/08 Metock v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform [2008] ECHR I-6241.

Due to changing mores and advances in reproductive technology, the concept of “family” has changed dramatically since Article 8 was first drafted. Ties between family members need no longer be biological, and biological ties themselves can emerge from the laboratory . Same sex parents, surrogate versus birth mothers, carers rather than parents should all theoretically, lay claim to family bonds under Article 8. But the Strasbourg Court has shrunk from extending the scope of Article 8 to protecting the right of transsexuals to adopt ( Frette v France (2004) 38 EHRR 21; although see EB v France , 22 January 2008, where the Grand Chamber ruled that Article 14 had been breached in conjunction with Article 8 when the government refused authorisation for adoption to the lesbian applicant ).

The privileging of marriage as part of the right to family life has been a source of great misery as human traffickers have sought to profit from the loophole in immigration controls by importing potential “wives” into the United Kingdom. Efforts by the government to eradicate the practice of forced marriage by refusing to grant visas to non-resident spouses under a certain age have been frustrated by the courts upholding Article 8 (see  R (on the application of Quila and another) (FC) (Respondents) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] UKSC 45 and our post on the matter ). In May 2016 the Grand Chamber the Grand Chamber found that the refusal to grant family reunion to a Ghanaian couple in Denmark violated Article 14 in conjunction with Article 8, overruling its previous position if there is any lack of obstacle to spouses living elsewhere, the state refusing entry is not in breach of Article 8: see Biao v Denmark [2016].

Like Articles 9, 10 and 11 Article 8 (2) contains specific exceptions to the right guaranteed in the first paragraph. These limitations may only be justified if they are “in accordance with the law” (Artciles 9,10 & 11 require measures to be “prescribed by law”) and, in all cases, “necessary in a democratic society”. The following analysis of these qualifications will apply equally to Articles 9 10 and 11 to follow.

In Accordance with the/Prescribed by law

This means three things:

(1) there must be a specific legal rule or regime which authorises the interference; (2) the citizen must have adequate access to the law in question (The Sunday Times v United Kingdom (1979) 2 EHRR 245); (3) the law must be formulated with sufficient precision to enable the citizen to foresee the circumstances in which the law would or might be applied (Malone v United Kingdom (1984)7 EHRR 14).

Necessary in a Democratic Society

Even if a measure has been taken in pursuit of one of the legitimate interests listed in the second paragraph of Articles 8, 9 10 or 11, the measure must be tested for “necessity.” The Court has held that the notion of necessity implies two things:

(1) that an interference corresponds to a pressing social need; (2) that it is proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued.

The Doctrine of Proportionality

In order for a measure to be “necessary in a democratic society”, it must respond to a “pressing social need” (The Sunday Times v United Kingdom (1979) 2 EHRR 245). This involves the test of proportionality. If a measure has been adopted which infringes an individual’s Convention right in some way, it will not be considered disproportionate if it is restricted in its application and effect, and is duly attended by safeguards in national law so that the individual is not subject to arbitrary treatment (MS v Sweden (1997) 3 BHRC 248).

Margin of Appreciation

Depending on the aim pursued, the Court grants Signatory States a certain leeway in adopting the measures it considers most appropriate to pursue that aim. In the area of public morals, for example, State authorities have been considered to be in a better position than the Court itself to determine restrictions on the sale of pornography (Handyside v United Kingdom (1976) 1 EHRR 737) or the legal recognition of transsexuals (Rees v United Kingdom (1986) 9 EHRR 56).

It was been asserted by some commentators in the United Kingdom before incorporation of the Convention that the doctrine was simply an interpretative tool specific to the international supervision of human rights and had no place in domestic arrangements for the protection of human rights. Others argue that it is analogous to the doctrines of justiciability that limit domestic adjudication of policy matters or decisions relating to allocation of scarce public resources, and that the adoption of a margin of appreciation doctrine is merely a change in form rather than substance. Such an approach has received the support of the House of Lords, in the words of Lord Hope in R v Director of Public Prosecutions, ex parte (1) Sofiane Kebeline (2) Ferine Boukemiche (3) Sofiane Souidi [1999] 3 WLR 175 :

In this area difficult choices may have to be made by the executive or the legislature between the rights of the individual and the needs of society. In some circumstances it will be appropriate for the courts to recognise that there is an area of judgment within which the judiciary will defer, on democratic grounds, to the considered opinion of the elected body or person whose act or decision is said to be incompatible with the Convention.

See however the analysis of a similar principle – “deference” – in R(N) v Home Secretary (March 2003) and Lord Sumption’s eloquent attack on it in his 1914 lecture to the Administrative Bar Association.

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  • Questions about Expos?
  • Writing Support for Instructors

Essay Structure

Writing an academic essay means fashioning a coherent set of ideas into an argument. Because essays are essentially linear—they offer one idea at a time—they must present their ideas in the order that makes most sense to a reader. Successfully structuring an essay means attending to a reader's logic.

The focus of such an essay predicts its structure. It dictates the information readers need to know and the order in which they need to receive it. Thus your essay's structure is necessarily unique to the main claim you're making. Although there are guidelines for constructing certain classic essay types (e.g., comparative analysis), there are no set formula.

Answering Questions:  The Parts of an Essay

A typical essay contains many different kinds of information, often located in specialized parts or sections. Even short essays perform several different operations: introducing the argument, analyzing data, raising counterarguments, concluding. Introductions and conclusions have fixed places, but other parts don't. Counterargument, for example, may appear within a paragraph, as a free-standing section, as part of the beginning, or before the ending. Background material (historical context or biographical information, a summary of relevant theory or criticism, the definition of a key term) often appears at the beginning of the essay, between the introduction and the first analytical section, but might also appear near the beginning of the specific section to which it's relevant.

It's helpful to think of the different essay sections as answering a series of questions your reader might ask when encountering your thesis. (Readers should have questions. If they don't, your thesis is most likely simply an observation of fact, not an arguable claim.)

"What?"   The first question to anticipate from a reader is "what": What evidence shows that the phenomenon described by your thesis is true? To answer the question you must examine your evidence, thus demonstrating the truth of your claim. This "what" or "demonstration" section comes early in the essay, often directly after the introduction. Since you're essentially reporting what you've observed, this is the part you might have most to say about when you first start writing. But be forewarned: it shouldn't take up much more than a third (often much less) of your finished essay. If it does, the essay will lack balance and may read as mere summary or description.

"How?"   A reader will also want to know whether the claims of the thesis are true in all cases. The corresponding question is "how": How does the thesis stand up to the challenge of a counterargument? How does the introduction of new material—a new way of looking at the evidence, another set of sources—affect the claims you're making? Typically, an essay will include at least one "how" section. (Call it "complication" since you're responding to a reader's complicating questions.) This section usually comes after the "what," but keep in mind that an essay may complicate its argument several times depending on its length, and that counterargument alone may appear just about anywhere in an essay.

"Why?"   Your reader will also want to know what's at stake in your claim: Why does your interpretation of a phenomenon matter to anyone beside you? This question addresses the larger implications of your thesis. It allows your readers to understand your essay within a larger context. In answering "why", your essay explains its own significance. Although you might gesture at this question in your introduction, the fullest answer to it properly belongs at your essay's end. If you leave it out, your readers will experience your essay as unfinished—or, worse, as pointless or insular.

Mapping an Essay

Structuring your essay according to a reader's logic means examining your thesis and anticipating what a reader needs to know, and in what sequence, in order to grasp and be convinced by your argument as it unfolds. The easiest way to do this is to map the essay's ideas via a written narrative. Such an account will give you a preliminary record of your ideas, and will allow you to remind yourself at every turn of the reader's needs in understanding your idea.

Essay maps ask you to predict where your reader will expect background information, counterargument, close analysis of a primary source, or a turn to secondary source material. Essay maps are not concerned with paragraphs so much as with sections of an essay. They anticipate the major argumentative moves you expect your essay to make. Try making your map like this:

  • State your thesis in a sentence or two, then write another sentence saying why it's important to make that claim. Indicate, in other words, what a reader might learn by exploring the claim with you. Here you're anticipating your answer to the "why" question that you'll eventually flesh out in your conclusion.
  • Begin your next sentence like this: "To be convinced by my claim, the first thing a reader needs to know is . . ." Then say why that's the first thing a reader needs to know, and name one or two items of evidence you think will make the case. This will start you off on answering the "what" question. (Alternately, you may find that the first thing your reader needs to know is some background information.)
  • Begin each of the following sentences like this: "The next thing my reader needs to know is . . ."  Once again, say why, and name some evidence. Continue until you've mapped out your essay. 

Your map should naturally take you through some preliminary answers to the basic questions of what, how, and why. It is not a contract, though—the order in which the ideas appear is not a rigid one. Essay maps are flexible; they evolve with your ideas.

Signs of Trouble  

A common structural flaw in college essays is the "walk-through" (also labeled "summary" or "description"). Walk-through essays follow the structure of their sources rather than establishing their own. Such essays generally have a descriptive thesis rather than an argumentative one. Be wary of paragraph openers that lead off with "time" words ("first," "next," "after," "then") or "listing" words ("also," "another," "in addition"). Although they don't always signal trouble, these paragraph openers often indicate that an essay's thesis and structure need work: they suggest that the essay simply reproduces the chronology of the source text (in the case of time words: first this happens, then that, and afterwards another thing . . . ) or simply lists example after example ("In addition, the use of color indicates another way that the painting differentiates between good and evil").

Copyright 2000, Elizabeth Abrams, for the Writing Center at Harvard University

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The Only Guide to Essay Writing You’ll Ever Need

Matt Ellis

Feel passionately about something and want to share it? Write an essay! Disagree with a popular opinion and wish to convince others to join you? Write an essay! Need to write something because the college you dream of attending is making you? Write an essay! 

“Essay” is a loose term for writing that asserts the author’s opinion on a topic, whether academic, editorial, or even humorous. There are a thousand different approaches to essay writing and a million different topics to choose from, but what we’ve found is that good essay writing tends to follow the same framework. 

Give your essays extra polish Grammarly helps you write with confidence Write with Grammarly

Below we discuss that framework and how you can apply it to your essays, whatever types they may be. But first, let’s start with a basic overview of how to write an essay.

How to write an essay

The basic steps for how to write an essay are: 

  • Generate ideas and pick a type of essay to write. 
  • Outline your essay paragraph by paragraph. 
  • Write a rough first draft without worrying about details like word choice or grammar.
  • Edit your rough draft, and revise and fix the details.
  • Review your essay for typos, mistakes, and any other problems. 

Want to know more? We cover the specifics below, but for now let’s talk about the nucleus of any good essay: the topic.

Your essay needs a thesis statement 

There are three things to consider before writing your essay: thesis, type, and audience. Of these, the most important by far is your thesis, or the crux of what your essay is about.

Your thesis, encapsulated in your thesis statement , is the central point you’re trying to make. The thesis of Bertrand Russell’s essay “ In Praise of Idleness ,” for example, is that people focus too much on work and don’t value time spent idly. Essays can occasionally stray and go into related tangents, but they always come back to that one core idea in the thesis. 

You should always pinpoint your thesis before writing. If you’re having trouble nailing it down, ask yourself, “What’s the one thing I want my reader to remember when they’re done reading my essay?”

The best practice is to include your thesis as soon as possible, even in your topic sentence if it’s appropriate. You’ll want to reiterate it throughout the essay as well, especially when wrapping up everything in the conclusion. 

The rest of your essay, then, supports your thesis. You can include empirical evidence, testimonials, logical deductions, or even persuasive rhetoric —whatever gets the job done. The point is that you’re building upon your initial thesis, not switching to completely different topics. 

6 types of essays

Like any form of writing, essays come in many different types. Sometimes the assignment dictates the type, as with admissions essays, and other times the thesis will determine it. Regardless, it helps to know what your options are, so here are some of the most common essay types: 

1. Argumentative essay

Argumentative essays assert or defend a position. This is the most common type of school paper, so keep that in mind when writing your first college essay . 

2. Admissions essay

Most colleges request an admissions essay in applications, which typically revolve around why you’re interested in their school. 

3. Persuasive essay

A persuasive essay is just as it sounds: an essay to persuade or convince the reader of a certain point. It’s similar to an argumentative essay— they both strongly favor a particular point of view, but the difference is the end goal: Argumentative essays just have to present their case, while persuasive essays have to present their case and win over the reader. 

4. Compare-and-contrast essay

When you want to devote equal attention to two opposing things, a compare-and-contrast essay works better than argumentative or persuasive essays, which lean to one side over the other.

5. Personal essay

Personal essays are often anecdotal or real-life stories of the authors, like the works of David Sedaris . Because they tend to follow narrative structures, the thesis can be flexible or interpretive. 

6. Expository essay

An expository essay thoroughly explains a certain topic to expand the reader’s knowledge. It is similar to an argumentative and persuasive essay in format, but with one key difference: expository essays don’t have a bias. 

Know your essay’s audience

Your final consideration is who will read your essay—a teacher, an admissions counselor, your peers, the internet at large, etc. 

No matter what you’re writing, your audience should influence your language. For one thing, your readers determine whether the essay is formal or casual , which has an enormous impact on language, word choice, and style . Take emojis for example: In a casual essay they might be welcome, but for formal writing they’re not the most appropriate choice. 😓

Your audience also affects the essay’s tone, or how you sound on an emotional level (enthusiastic, cautious, confident, etc.). If you’d like to know more, you can read about the 10 common types of tone here . 

The essay writing process

If you’re writing an essay, research paper , term paper, novel, short story, poem , screenplay, blog article about essay writing—when writing just about anything , really—it’s crucial to follow an efficient writing process. Even if you prefer the stream of consciousness style for writing your rough draft, you still need to have an orderly system that allows you to revise and hone. 

For essay writing, we recommend this  six-step writing process :

1 Brainstorming

It always helps to collect your thoughts before you begin writing by brainstorming . Based on your prompt or thesis, try to generate as many ideas as possible to include in your essay. Think of as many as time allows, knowing that you’ll be able to set aside the ideas that don’t work later. 

2 Preparing

The preparation phase consists of both outlining your essay and collecting resources for evidence. Take a look at the results of your brainstorming session. First, isolate the ideas that are essential to support your thesis and then organize them in a logical and progressive order. In this stage you’ll incorporate your essay structure, which we explain below.

If you want empirical evidence or complementary citations, track them down now.  The way you write citations depends on the style guide you’re using. The three most common style guides for academics are MLA , APA , and Chicago , and each has its own particular rules and requirements for citing just about  any  kind of source, including newspaper articles ,  websites ,  speeches , and  YouTube videos .

This is the main stage of essay writing where you roll up your sleeves and actually write your first draft . Remember that everything doesn’t have to be perfect; this is your first draft, not your final draft, so give yourself the freedom to make errors. If you’re focusing on getting every single word right, you’ll miss the big picture. 

The revisions stage involves your second draft, your third draft, or even your twelfth draft if necessary. Address all the nuances and subtleties you glossed over in the first draft. 

Pay attention to both word choice and clarity , as well as sophisticated writing techniques like avoiding the passive voice . If you’re not confident in your writing skills yet, the Grammarly Editor ensures your writing is readable, clear, and concise by offering sentence structure and word choice suggestions, plus clarity revisions as you write. Grammarly helps catch common mistakes with sentence structure—like run-on sentences, sentence fragments, passive voice, and more.  

5 Proofreading

When all the heavy-duty revisions are finished, it’s time for the final polish. Go through your essay and correct misspellings , formatting issues, or grammatical errors. This is also where you can turn to Grammarly’s AI-powered writing assistant, which helps catch these common mistakes for you. Or  copy and paste your writing to check your grammar and get instant feedback on grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other mistakes you might have missed.

Essay structure

Essay structure almost always follows a simple beginning-middle-end format, or in this case, an introduction-body-conclusion format. However, it’s what’s contained within those sections that makes all the difference. 


Essays follow the same guidelines for introductions as any other piece of writing, with an extra emphasis on presenting the thesis prominently, ideally in the topic sentence. By the end of your introduction paragraph, your reader should know without a doubt what your essay is about. From there, follow the conventional best practices on how to write an introduction . 

Body paragraphs

The majority of your essay is body paragraphs , all of which support your thesis and present evidence. 

Pay close attention to how you organize your body paragraphs. Some arguments benefit from a logical progression, where one point leads to a second, and that second point leads to a third. Remember that the reader doesn’t understand the topic like you do (that’s why you’re writing the essay), so structure your paragraphs in the way that’s best for their comprehension. 

What if you’re writing an argumentative essay where you compare and contrast two or more points of view? Do you present your argument first and then share opposing points of view, or do you open with your opposition’s argument and then refute it? 

Serious writers can get pretty technical about how to organize an argumentative essay. There are three approaches in particular used often: Aristotlian (classical), Rogerian , and Toulmin . However, these can get exceedingly complicated, so for a simple essay, a basic structure will do just fine:

  • Counterpoint
  • Evidence supporting your point and/or disproving counterpoint 

Essay conclusions wrap up or summarize your thesis in a way that’s easy for the reader to digest. If you get the chance, you can add a new perspective or context for understanding your thesis, but in general the conclusion should not present any new evidence or supporting data. Rather, it’s more of a recap. For more specific tips, read about how to write a conclusion for an essay here . 

Five-paragraph essay

For quick and simple essays, you don’t need to get too technical with your essay structure. The five-paragraph essay structure works well in a pinch. This contains:

  • One introduction paragraph
  • Three body paragraphs
  • One conclusion paragraph

While this essay structure might not be flexible enough for more advanced topics, it comes in handy when speed is a factor, like during timed tests. 

Essay writing tips

Master the five fundamentals.

Especially for school essays, your reader will scrutinize how well you handle the fundamentals. Knowing about essay structure and the writing process is one thing, but can you demonstrate an understanding of language style? Can you develop your thesis logically and coherently? Are your references and citations trustworthy?

When you’re ready for the next step of essay writing, take a look at the five concepts you must master to write better essays . The tips there pick up where this guide leaves off. 

Seek out another pair of eyes

This tip is not just for essays; it’s always advisable to have someone else read over your writing before finalizing it. All too often we miss the forest for the trees, and thinking long and hard on the same topic can give you tunnel vision. The solution is to get a fresh take from someone who’s seeing it for the first time. 

Typically you can swap with a friend and edit each others’ works. If that’s not an option, however, you can also use a writing center or join a writing group online. At the very least, you should sleep on it and take another look when you’re refreshed. 

Remember: Grammar and form are essential 

It’s not always about what you say, but how you say it. You could have the most obvious, objectively agreeable thesis in the world, but if your writing is incoherent, confusing, and full of mistakes, it’s tough to engage with your reader. 

For when your writing needs to make the right impact, Grammarly Premium offers full-sentence rewrites for confusing sentences—from splitting long sentences, cutting extra words, or rearranging key phrases—in addition to catching common grammar mistakes. It also gives you readability-focused formatting suggestions, so you know your writing is clear. It also helps those who are looking to improve their writing skill level in English, with suggestions for commonly misused words and phrases. 

Honing your writing with these elements in mind is key to relaying your point to your reader—and asserting your thesis as effectively as possible.

article 8 essay

  • Main content

I've studied more than 5,000 near death experiences. My research has convinced me without a doubt that there's life after death.

  • Jeffrey Long is a radiation oncologist in Kentucky.
  • He's also the founder of the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation.
  • He says studying near-death experiences has made him a better cancer doctor. 

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Jeffrey Long . It has been edited for length and clarity.

Thirty-seven years ago I was an oncologist resident, learning about how best to treat cancer using radiation . These were the pre-internet days, so I did my research in the library. One day, I was flipping through a large volume of the Journal of the American Medical Association when I came across an article describing near-death experiences . 

It stopped me in my tracks. All my medical training told me you were either alive or dead. There was no in-between. But suddenly, I was reading from a cardiologist describing patients who had died and then came back to life, reporting very distinct, almost unbelievable experiences. 

From that moment, I was fascinated with near-death experiences or NDEs. I define a near-death experience as someone who is either comatose or clinically dead, without a heartbeat, having a lucid experience where they see, hear, feel emotions, and interact with other beings. Learning more about these experiences has fundamentally changed my view of the universe.

Near-death experiences have common threads

When I finished my residency, I started the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation . I started collecting stories from people who had NDEs and evaluating them with the mind of a scientist and doctor. I made opinions based on evidence and came into this as a skeptic. But in the face of overwhelming evidence, I've come to believe there's certainly an afterlife. 

No two NDEs are the same. But as I studied thousands of them, I saw a consistent pattern of events emerging in a predictable order. About 45% of people who have an NDE report an out-of-body experience. When this happens, their consciousness separates from their physical body, usually hovering above the body. The person can see and hear what's happening around them, which usually includes frantic attempts to revive them. One woman even reported a doctor throwing a tool on the floor when he picked up the wrong one—something the doctor later confirmed. 

After the out-of-body experience, people say they're transported into another realm. Many pass through a tunnel and experience a bright light. Then, they're greeted by deceased loved ones, including pets, who are in the prime of their lives. Most people report an overwhelming sense of love and peace. They feel like this other realm is their real home. 

I haven't found any scientific explanation for these experiences

These experiences may sound cliché: the bright light, the tunnel, the loved ones. But over twenty-five years of studying NDEs, I've come to believe that these descriptions have become cultural tropes because they're true. I even worked with a group of children under five who had NDEs. They reported the same experiences that adults did—and at that age, you're unlikely to have heard about bright lights or tunnels after you die. 

Other people report seemingly unbelievable events, which we can later confirm. One woman lost consciousness while riding her horse on a trail. Her body stayed on the trail while her consciousness traveled with her horse as he galloped back to the barn. Later, she was able to describe exactly what happened at the barn because she had seen it despite her body not being there. Others who hadn't spoken to her confirmed her account. 

I'm a medical doctor. I've read brain research and considered every possible explanation for NDEs. The bottom line is that none of them hold water. There isn't even a remotely plausible physical explanation for this phenomenon. 

I've also studied fear-death experiences, like near-miss car accidents

I take a particular definition for NDEs. The person must be unconscious. But there's another type of phenomenon that fascinates me too: what I call "fear-death experiences." 

These are situations when you feel your life is in imminent danger. It might be a near-miss car accident or a sudden fall. These people generally don't experience the tunnel and light, but they often report their life "flashing before their eyes."

While some people with NDEs report these life reviews, they're more common with fear-death experiences. People even recall events from toddlerhood that they can't consciously remember but that we can later confirm by talking with family members and others. 

Studying NDEs has made me a better cancer doctor

While I'm passionate about NDEs, my day job still revolves around helping patients fight cancer. I don't tell my patients about my NDE research. And yet, my work with NDEs has made me a more compassionate and loving doctor. 

I'm able to help my patients face life-threatening diseases with increased courage and passion. My goal is to help them have more healthy days here on Earth. But I firmly believe that if and when they pass, they will be at peace.  

article 8 essay

article 8 essay

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A (Very) Simple Way to Improve Your Writing

  • Mark Rennella

article 8 essay

It’s called the “one-idea rule” — and any level of writer can use it.

The “one idea” rule is a simple concept that can help you sharpen your writing, persuade others by presenting your argument in a clear, concise, and engaging way. What exactly does the rule say?

  • Every component of a successful piece of writing should express only one idea.
  • In persuasive writing, your “one idea” is often the argument or belief you are presenting to the reader. Once you identify what that argument is, the “one-idea rule” can help you develop, revise, and connect the various components of your writing.
  • For instance, let’s say you’re writing an essay. There are three components you will be working with throughout your piece: the title, the paragraphs, and the sentences.
  • Each of these parts should be dedicated to just one idea. The ideas are not identical, of course, but they’re all related. If done correctly, the smaller ideas (in sentences) all build (in paragraphs) to support the main point (suggested in the title).

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Where your work meets your life. See more from Ascend here .

Most advice about writing looks like a long laundry list of “do’s and don’ts.” These lists can be helpful from time to time, but they’re hard to remember … and, therefore, hard to depend on when you’re having trouble putting your thoughts to paper. During my time in academia, teaching composition at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I saw many people struggle with this.

Often, students would begin with strong ideas, but have trouble focusing their thoughts when it came time to translating those ideas into words  — resulting in essays with loose, distracted, and ultimately, confusing arguments. It’s not that their ideas weren’t valuable. There were just too many of them to digest at once.

Luckily, there is a (memorable) strategy that can help any level of writer greatly improve their work. I call it the one-idea rule:  Every component of a successful piece of writing should express only one idea.

You may be familiar with some of the variations of this rule, like the Pyramid Principle or  Purdue’s rules of thumb for paragraphs. After all, every great essay, article, or written work is grounded by a foundational idea — one that equally inspires the author and their audience.

In persuasive writing, which we will focus on here, your one idea is often the argument or belief you are presenting to the reader. Once you identify what that argument is, the “one-idea rule” can help you develop, revise, and connect the various components of your writing in a clear and convincing way.

For instance, let’s say you’re writing an essay. There are three components you’ll be working with throughout your piece: the title, the paragraphs, and the sentences. Each of these parts should be dedicated to just one idea. The ideas are not identical, of course, but they’re all related. If done correctly, the smaller ideas (in sentences) all build (in paragraphs) to support the main point (suggested in the title).

Why should you follow this rule?

There are many advantages to using the one-idea rule, but I’ll point out three that are particularly important:

You will sharpen your focus.  Many written pieces fail to be persuasive because they include too many ideas rather than too few. Having a clear end goal will keep you disciplined.

You will make more discoveries (and have more fun). Focus gives you freedom. When you have one specific idea you’re trying to portray, you can then experiment more broadly throughout your piece or even take a little detour without losing sight of your main point. You can dig more deeply into certain details, as long as they are related to the title, or your main idea.

You will become more confident. Knowing that you’re following a rule that describes all good writing gives you a chance to assess the quality of your own work, as well as the work of others — including your peers, your colleagues, and even well-known authors. Great writing is a skill, and once you understand how to structure papers in a compelling way, you’ll gain the confidence to decide what makes a piece truly interesting and persuasive.

How to Get Started

This rule may sound simple, but it takes practice to master.

So, what should you do the next time you begin an assignment, and you face the terrifying abyss of a blank page and a blinking cursor? How can you identify what your big “idea” is?

These three steps can help sharpen your focus.

1) Find an angle.

Maybe you’re writing on a topic that was assigned to you by an editor or a professor. Maybe you’re brainstorming a piece to pitch to a media outlet. Or maybe there is a subject you want to tackle but your focus feels too broad. Whatever the case, you have to come up with an angle — a clear and refreshing perspective on the topic at hand that presents a specific, unique, and well-supported argument or “idea.”

If you don’t know what argument you want to make, then you’re in trouble. To figure it out, ask yourself questions about the topic that tease out details related to it:

  • What do I know about this topic?
  • What do I not know about this topic but want to learn?
  • What inspires me about this topic?
  • Would others also find these issues interesting?

As you answer these questions, useful insights, questions, and unknowns will arise. For instance, perhaps you are interested in writing about “Mental Health on College Campuses.” Answering the questions listed above, may lead you down a path of discovery:

  • “I’ve seen on the news that many college students are depressed or dropping out.”
  • “I don’t know many details about mental health issues on college campuses specific to this pandemic.”
  • “It would be great to discover new solutions to the problem or find the best existing solutions, and explain them clearly to readers.”
  • Students themselves, and institutions trying to support them, may be interested.

From here, you might start out with the goal of writing about “solutions to mental health problems faced by college students.” That’s a good start, but it’s still too vague, and may be challenging for you (someone just beginning to study the issue) to tackle effectively.

The good news is that you can narrow down your idea. Coming up with a headline is a great way to do this. For example, you might title your paper, “3 Ways Colleges Can Address Mental Health Issues Among Students.” Notice how your focus immediately narrows. This will help you stay on track and investigate a clearer solution to the problem you have identified.

2) Find evidence .

Now that you have chosen a single idea or issue to discuss, assemble facts, evidence, or data that may be useful or surprising to others, and that also support the point you want to make. Sticking with our original example, research a few ideas about “mental health in college” to draw a reader’s attention:

  • Stats about college enrollment and dropout rates in the last two years
  • Percentage of students feeling isolated
  • Greatest mental health challenges students are facing
  • What universities are currently doing to help
  • What universities are not doing to help
  • Preventive measures for mental health problems
  • Stigmas around discussing mental health
  • Impacts of virtual class vs. in-person class

As you research, a few of these ideas may jump out to you as directly supportive of your argument. Be sure to record them. Likewise, take note of any evidence you come across that counters your argument. If you are able to call out and address counterpoints before the reader discovers them, you will strengthen your main idea.

While you’re brainstorming details to include in your essay, be careful to exclude examples that aren’t obviously related to that main idea (e.g., cafeteria food on campus), unless that information provides some pertinent information or context (e.g., bad food depresses students).

3) Outline .

Organize the pertinent evidence or examples you have discovered to create an outline for your piece. If all of your examples are obviously related to the main topic, then it will be relatively easy to order them into a story with a beginning, middle, and end. The main elements of the outline are marked in bold:

  • Main Idea / Title : 3 Ways Colleges Can Address Mental Health Issues Among Students
  • Statistics about enrollment and drop-out rates in the last two years
  • Students feeling isolated despite being grouped in dorms
  • Stigma around talking openly about mental health
  • How should instructors help and reach out to students?
  • Preventive measures for mental health problems at school
  • Creating psychologically safe spaces on campus
  • Using Zoom to help people wherever they are
  • Finding novel ways to gather
  • Conclusion : Colleges can do more to create safe spaces for students to vocalize their mental health needs. The more students who seek help, the more lives will be improved. Those students will walk away with skills that can help them now, and in the future.

You can gut check your idea by sharing your outline with an audience, like your trusted peers, family members, or friends. Pay attention to their reactions. Ask them questions about what they liked or didn’t; what they didn’t understand; what they want to know more about. These are exactly the kinds of question about an essay’s main idea that you should ask yourself each time you work on a paper. Then, adjust your outline (including the title when appropriate) based on what you learned from your discussions.

This should be enough to get you off to a strong start. If you continue to practice, you can turn this exercise into a productive habit. It can be particularly useful when you face an assignment that seems either uninteresting or too difficult. Find just one foundational idea that interests you about any subject , and you will be able to summon the motivation, energy, and direction required to finish the task, and do it well.

article 8 essay

  • MR Mark Rennella is Associate Editor at HBP and has published two books, Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders and The Boston Cosmopolitans .  

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The Difference Between an Article and an Essay

  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

In composition studies , an article is a short work of nonfiction that typically appears in a magazine or newspaper or on a website. Unlike essays , which often highlight the subjective impressions of the author (or narrator ), articles are commonly written from an objective point of view . Articles include news items, feature stories, reports , profiles , instructions, product descriptions, and other informative pieces of writing.

What Sets Articles Apart From Essays

Though both articles and essays are types of nonfiction writing, they differ in many ways. Here are some features and qualities of articles that differentiate them from essays.

Subject and Theme in Articles

"A useful exercise is to look at some good articles and name the broader subject and the particular aspect each treats. You will find that the subject always deals with a partial aspect examined from some viewpoint; it is never a crammed condensation of the whole.

"...Observe that there are two essential elements of an article: subject and theme . The subject is what the article is about: the issue, event, or person it deals with. (Again, an article must cover only an aspect of a whole.) The theme is what the author wants to say about the subject—what he brings to the subject." (Ayn Rand, The Art of Nonfiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers , ed. by Robert Mayhew. Plume, 2001)

"An article is not everything that's true. It's every important thing that's true." (Gary Provost, Beyond Style: Mastering the Finer Points of Writing . Writer's Digest Books, 1988)

Article Structure

"There are five ways to structure your article . They are:

- The inverted pyramid - The double helix - The chronological double-helix - The chronological report - The storytelling model

Think about how you read a newspaper: you scan the captions and then read the first paragraph or two to get the gist of the article and then read further if you want to know more of the details. That's the inverted pyramid style of writing used by journalists, in which what's important comes first. The double-helix also presents facts in order of importance but it alternates between two separate sets of information. For example, suppose you are writing an article about the two national political conventions. You'll first present Fact 1 about the Democratic convention, then Fact 2 about the Republicans, then Fact 2 about the Democrats, Fact 2 about the Republicans, and so on. The chronological double-helix begins like the double helix but once the important facts from each set of information have been presented, it then goes off to relay the events in chronological order...

"The chronological report is the most straightforward structure to follow since it is written in the order in which the events occurred. The final structure is the storytelling model, which utilizes some of the techniques of fiction writing, so you would want to bring the reader into the story right away even if it means beginning in the middle or even near the end and then filling in the facts as the story unfolds." (Richard D. Bank, The Everything Guide to Writing Nonfiction . Adams Media, 2010)

Opening Sentence of an Article

"The most important sentence in any article is the first one. If it doesn't induce the reader to proceed to the second sentence, your article is dead. And if the second sentence doesn't induce him to continue to the third sentence, it's equally dead. Of such a progression of sentences, each tugging the reader forward until he is hooked, a writer constructs that fateful unit, the ' lead .'" (William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction , 7th ed. HarperCollins, 2006)

Articles and Media

"More and more, article content written for printed media is also appearing on digital devices (often as an edited version of a longer article) for readers who have short attention spans due to time constraints or their device's small screen. As a result, digital publishers are seeking audio versions of content that is significantly condensed and written in conversational style. Often, content writers must now submit their articles with the understanding they will appear in several media formats." (Roger W. Nielsen, Writing Content: Mastering Magazine and Online Writing . R.W. Nielsen, 2009)

Writer's Voice in Articles and Essays

"Given the confusion of genre minglings and overlaps, what finally distinguishes an essay from an article may just be the author's gumption, the extent to which personal voice , vision, and style are the prime movers and shapers, even though the authorial 'I' may be only a remote energy, nowhere visible but everywhere present. ('We commonly do not remember,' Thoreau wrote in the opening paragraphs of Walden , 'that it is, after all, always the first person that is speaking.')" (Justin Kaplan, quoted by Robert Atwan in The Best American Essays, College Edition , 2nd ed. Houghton Mifflin, 1998)

  • How to Write a News Article That's Effective
  • What Are the Different Types and Characteristics of Essays?
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  • Definition and Examples of Paragraphing in Essays
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  • Learn to Write News Stories
  • Unity in Composition
  • Writing a Lead or Lede to an Article
  • How to Structure an Essay
  • How to Write Your Graduate School Admissions Essay
  • AP English Exam: 101 Key Terms
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  • Writers on Writing: The Art of Paragraphing
  • Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition

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The Death of Church and Pub

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M y annual trip to my home village in England is typically a week when I enter the land that time forgot. Nothing much changes. The shop still sells newspapers and houses the local post office. The view across the valley from my mother’s cottage still reveals nothing—not even a street light or a power cable—that would indicate it has a point of origin in the last century and a half. And the Baptist chapel bell still strikes the hour ten minutes late. But even in this land where nothing seems to change, some things do bear the unmistakable marks of late modernity. There are now more cars than houses, turning the narrow country lanes into parking lots. And most striking, the parish church has closed and is now for sale, with planning permission for it to be turned into a residence. 

Closure of churches is nothing new. Over twenty years ago in Aberdeen, I noticed that a number of places of worship I remembered from my postgraduate days had turned into nightclubs. And the old Free Church College was now a bar. The College, its entrance flanked somewhat incongruously by historic plaques commemorating its earlier distinguished denizens: the theologian David Cairns and the Semitic scholar William Robertson Smith. Given the importance of the ownership of space for the social imagination, nothing perhaps indicates the change of Western culture more than the replacement of the seriously religious by the merely entertaining. 

My village had two churches, the Anglican parish church and the Baptist chapel. In the nineteenth century, both were central to village life. The current primary (elementary) school was founded by the Baptists in the nineteenth century when their children were effectively excluded from the Anglican school because of their theological beliefs. Religion may have created a fault line, but it was also a deep source of identity and community. It motivated people to act in ways that supported each other, that manifested concern for the future, that gave them a hierarchy of goods that framed communal action. It spoke of belonging, and it gave corporate life a context and a significance. Today, the chapel is marginal, the church has closed, and people increasingly question what the village community is, what it is for. 

There is a parallel in the fate of the English village pub. Once central to community life—the English pub is not the equivalent of the American bar—it is now plausibly claimed that fifty public houses are closing every month. There are no doubt numerous reasons: supermarkets sell cheap wine and beer that can be consumed at home; and the overhead costs and red tape involved in running any such establishment make them less and less attractive as a business opportunity. But whatever the causes, the death of the local pub, like the death of the parish church, contributes to the death of the local community. The pub was the place where friendship was fostered over a shared drink and the shared cost of an evening conversation. No man was less an island than when engaging in the English tradition of “buying a round.” And the sad fact is that pubs and churches are not being replaced by something that fulfills the same function of shaping community. There is no need, it seems, since that function has itself more or less vanished. When communal space disappears, communal bonds disappear too. 

It would be easy to present this as a gloomy scenario. The death of church and pub can only further fuel the modern scourges of loneliness and isolation. And these evils cannot be solved directly by public policy or government initiatives because such things trade in abstractions.  Nobody is ever lonely or isolated in the abstract. Loneliness only ever affects people—real, individual people in real, particular circumstances. And it can only be solved by real community.

This is where the church actually has a tremendous opportunity. The West is currently engaged in an experiment doomed to fail. Human beings crave real relationships, and there will come a backlash to the isolated wasteland of modern life, marked by the frictionless “friendships” of the online “community.” After all, nobody on his deathbed wants his loved ones appearing before him by Zoom. He wants them in the room, holding his hand, speaking to him, interacting with him in real, embodied space and time. And when that backlash comes, the real communities that exist will appear vital and attractive.

This is why hospitality is something that the church needs to emphasize again. St. Paul writes that elders must be hospitable. But in sixteen years of teaching at seminary, I do not recall ever hearing of a class on hospitality. Indeed, the saddest thing I perhaps ever heard in that time was a student at an exit interview wistfully saying that he had come to seminary to learn to share the love of Jesus more effectively with his friends and had learned merely how to fall out more sharply with other Christians who didn’t quite measure up. That is a damning indictment of theological education.

The nature of community is changing. The old village has gone. One can lament the passing of parish churches and village pubs, but the type of community that birthed them has gone forever. But the human need for community—rich, real, personal community—will exist as long as our individual identities are tied up with looking into the faces of those who are “bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.” In other words, that need will exist as long as we are human beings made in God’s image. And the answer is hospitality. Churches and Christians need to think about what this looks like in our modern world as much as they think about other aspects of the faith. And the good news is that the very things Christian decry in our current culture, from its superficiality to its instability to its hopelessness—make this a time of unparalleled opportunity.

Carl Trueman is a professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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College professors are going back to paper exams and handwritten essays to fight students using ChatGPT

  • Educators are still trying to figure out what to do about OpenAI's ChatGPT.
  • While some professors have embraced it as a tool, others are finding ways to fight its use.
  • Some are opting for written exams and personal essays to cut down on cheating.

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The growing number of students using the AI program ChatGPT as a shortcut in their coursework has led some college professors to reconsider their lesson plans for the upcoming fall semester.

OpenAI's ChatGPT is advancing every day. The chatbot achieved the highest score on an AP Biology exam and passed a freshman year at Harvard with a 3.34 GPA .

Since its launch, teachers, administrators, and students have questioned AI's role in education. While some schools chose to outright ban the use of ChatGPT, others are exploring ways it can be a tool for learning .

As summer break comes to a close, some college professors are now searching for ways to fight the use of generative AI, making their exams "ChatGPT-proof," according to a story from Fortune and the Associated Press .

"Asking students questions like, 'Tell me in three sentences what is the Krebs cycle in chemistry?' That's not going to work anymore, because ChatGPT will spit out a perfectly fine answer to that question," Bill Hart-Davidson, an associate dean at Michigan State University's College of Arts and Letters, told Fortune.

Concerned professors told Insider they plan to go back to handwritten assignments and oral exams to avoid the use of generative AI.

"I'm planning on going medieval on the students and going all the way back to oral exams," Christopher Bartel, a philosophy professor at Appalachian State University, told Insider in January. "They can AI generate text all day long in their notes if they want, but if they have to be able to speak it, that's a different thing."

A Canadian writing professor told Fox News that he plans to make assignments more personalized in an effort to cut down the use of ChatGPT on essays.

The changes to school assignments come as teachers grapple with how to best integrate AI tools into their classrooms. While some professors require their students to use ChatGPT to generate project ideas , some schools have outright banned the usage of AI to avoid cases of academic dishonesty.

ChatGPT usage dropped almost 10% from May to June, and some techies believe it's because most students went on summer break. If students are the main users of the program, experts think it could mean trouble for OpenAI.

"If it's school kids, that's a real yellow-red flag on the size of the prize," the internet analyst Mark Shmulik told Insider. "This idea that if the ChatGPT drop-off is due to students on summer break, that implies a narrower audience and fewer use cases."

Despite the controversy, some teachers are using AI chatbots themselves to streamline their workflow. Shannon Ahern, a high-school math and science teacher in Dublin, previously told Insider she used ChatGPT Plus to write lesson plans , generate exercise worksheets, and come up with quiz questions, which she said saved her hours of time.

As far as cheating goes, some teachers don't see that changing — with or without AI.

"I worried that my students would use it to cheat and plagiarize," Ahern said. "But then I remembered that students have always been cheating — whether that's copying a classmate's homework or getting a sibling to write an essay — and I don't think ChatGPT will change that."

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  • The four main types of essay | Quick guide with examples

The Four Main Types of Essay | Quick Guide with Examples

Published on September 4, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An essay is a focused piece of writing designed to inform or persuade. There are many different types of essay, but they are often defined in four categories: argumentative, expository, narrative, and descriptive essays.

Argumentative and expository essays are focused on conveying information and making clear points, while narrative and descriptive essays are about exercising creativity and writing in an interesting way. At university level, argumentative essays are the most common type. 

In high school and college, you will also often have to write textual analysis essays, which test your skills in close reading and interpretation.

Table of contents

Argumentative essays, expository essays, narrative essays, descriptive essays, textual analysis essays, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about types of essays.

An argumentative essay presents an extended, evidence-based argument. It requires a strong thesis statement —a clearly defined stance on your topic. Your aim is to convince the reader of your thesis using evidence (such as quotations ) and analysis.

Argumentative essays test your ability to research and present your own position on a topic. This is the most common type of essay at college level—most papers you write will involve some kind of argumentation.

The essay is divided into an introduction, body, and conclusion:

  • The introduction provides your topic and thesis statement
  • The body presents your evidence and arguments
  • The conclusion summarizes your argument and emphasizes its importance

The example below is a paragraph from the body of an argumentative essay about the effects of the internet on education. Mouse over it to learn more.

A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.

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An expository essay provides a clear, focused explanation of a topic. It doesn’t require an original argument, just a balanced and well-organized view of the topic.

Expository essays test your familiarity with a topic and your ability to organize and convey information. They are commonly assigned at high school or in exam questions at college level.

The introduction of an expository essay states your topic and provides some general background, the body presents the details, and the conclusion summarizes the information presented.

A typical body paragraph from an expository essay about the invention of the printing press is shown below. Mouse over it to learn more.

The invention of the printing press in 1440 changed this situation dramatically. Johannes Gutenberg, who had worked as a goldsmith, used his knowledge of metals in the design of the press. He made his type from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony, whose durability allowed for the reliable production of high-quality books. This new technology allowed texts to be reproduced and disseminated on a much larger scale than was previously possible. The Gutenberg Bible appeared in the 1450s, and a large number of printing presses sprang up across the continent in the following decades. Gutenberg’s invention rapidly transformed cultural production in Europe; among other things, it would lead to the Protestant Reformation.

A narrative essay is one that tells a story. This is usually a story about a personal experience you had, but it may also be an imaginative exploration of something you have not experienced.

Narrative essays test your ability to build up a narrative in an engaging, well-structured way. They are much more personal and creative than other kinds of academic writing . Writing a personal statement for an application requires the same skills as a narrative essay.

A narrative essay isn’t strictly divided into introduction, body, and conclusion, but it should still begin by setting up the narrative and finish by expressing the point of the story—what you learned from your experience, or why it made an impression on you.

Mouse over the example below, a short narrative essay responding to the prompt “Write about an experience where you learned something about yourself,” to explore its structure.

Since elementary school, I have always favored subjects like science and math over the humanities. My instinct was always to think of these subjects as more solid and serious than classes like English. If there was no right answer, I thought, why bother? But recently I had an experience that taught me my academic interests are more flexible than I had thought: I took my first philosophy class.

Before I entered the classroom, I was skeptical. I waited outside with the other students and wondered what exactly philosophy would involve—I really had no idea. I imagined something pretty abstract: long, stilted conversations pondering the meaning of life. But what I got was something quite different.

A young man in jeans, Mr. Jones—“but you can call me Rob”—was far from the white-haired, buttoned-up old man I had half-expected. And rather than pulling us into pedantic arguments about obscure philosophical points, Rob engaged us on our level. To talk free will, we looked at our own choices. To talk ethics, we looked at dilemmas we had faced ourselves. By the end of class, I’d discovered that questions with no right answer can turn out to be the most interesting ones.

The experience has taught me to look at things a little more “philosophically”—and not just because it was a philosophy class! I learned that if I let go of my preconceptions, I can actually get a lot out of subjects I was previously dismissive of. The class taught me—in more ways than one—to look at things with an open mind.

A descriptive essay provides a detailed sensory description of something. Like narrative essays, they allow you to be more creative than most academic writing, but they are more tightly focused than narrative essays. You might describe a specific place or object, rather than telling a whole story.

Descriptive essays test your ability to use language creatively, making striking word choices to convey a memorable picture of what you’re describing.

A descriptive essay can be quite loosely structured, though it should usually begin by introducing the object of your description and end by drawing an overall picture of it. The important thing is to use careful word choices and figurative language to create an original description of your object.

Mouse over the example below, a response to the prompt “Describe a place you love to spend time in,” to learn more about descriptive essays.

On Sunday afternoons I like to spend my time in the garden behind my house. The garden is narrow but long, a corridor of green extending from the back of the house, and I sit on a lawn chair at the far end to read and relax. I am in my small peaceful paradise: the shade of the tree, the feel of the grass on my feet, the gentle activity of the fish in the pond beside me.

My cat crosses the garden nimbly and leaps onto the fence to survey it from above. From his perch he can watch over his little kingdom and keep an eye on the neighbours. He does this until the barking of next door’s dog scares him from his post and he bolts for the cat flap to govern from the safety of the kitchen.

With that, I am left alone with the fish, whose whole world is the pond by my feet. The fish explore the pond every day as if for the first time, prodding and inspecting every stone. I sometimes feel the same about sitting here in the garden; I know the place better than anyone, but whenever I return I still feel compelled to pay attention to all its details and novelties—a new bird perched in the tree, the growth of the grass, and the movement of the insects it shelters…

Sitting out in the garden, I feel serene. I feel at home. And yet I always feel there is more to discover. The bounds of my garden may be small, but there is a whole world contained within it, and it is one I will never get tired of inhabiting.

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Though every essay type tests your writing skills, some essays also test your ability to read carefully and critically. In a textual analysis essay, you don’t just present information on a topic, but closely analyze a text to explain how it achieves certain effects.

Rhetorical analysis

A rhetorical analysis looks at a persuasive text (e.g. a speech, an essay, a political cartoon) in terms of the rhetorical devices it uses, and evaluates their effectiveness.

The goal is not to state whether you agree with the author’s argument but to look at how they have constructed it.

The introduction of a rhetorical analysis presents the text, some background information, and your thesis statement; the body comprises the analysis itself; and the conclusion wraps up your analysis of the text, emphasizing its relevance to broader concerns.

The example below is from a rhetorical analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech . Mouse over it to learn more.

King’s speech is infused with prophetic language throughout. Even before the famous “dream” part of the speech, King’s language consistently strikes a prophetic tone. He refers to the Lincoln Memorial as a “hallowed spot” and speaks of rising “from the dark and desolate valley of segregation” to “make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” The assumption of this prophetic voice constitutes the text’s strongest ethical appeal; after linking himself with political figures like Lincoln and the Founding Fathers, King’s ethos adopts a distinctly religious tone, recalling Biblical prophets and preachers of change from across history. This adds significant force to his words; standing before an audience of hundreds of thousands, he states not just what the future should be, but what it will be: “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” This warning is almost apocalyptic in tone, though it concludes with the positive image of the “bright day of justice.” The power of King’s rhetoric thus stems not only from the pathos of his vision of a brighter future, but from the ethos of the prophetic voice he adopts in expressing this vision.

Literary analysis

A literary analysis essay presents a close reading of a work of literature—e.g. a poem or novel—to explore the choices made by the author and how they help to convey the text’s theme. It is not simply a book report or a review, but an in-depth interpretation of the text.

Literary analysis looks at things like setting, characters, themes, and figurative language. The goal is to closely analyze what the author conveys and how.

The introduction of a literary analysis essay presents the text and background, and provides your thesis statement; the body consists of close readings of the text with quotations and analysis in support of your argument; and the conclusion emphasizes what your approach tells us about the text.

Mouse over the example below, the introduction to a literary analysis essay on Frankenstein , to learn more.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a stable representation of the callous ambition of modern science throughout the novel. This essay, however, argues that far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as. This essay begins by exploring the positive portrayal of Frankenstein in the first volume, then moves on to the creature’s perception of him, and finally discusses the third volume’s narrative shift toward viewing Frankenstein as the creature views him.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
  • Appeal to authority fallacy
  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

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At high school and in composition classes at university, you’ll often be told to write a specific type of essay , but you might also just be given prompts.

Look for keywords in these prompts that suggest a certain approach: The word “explain” suggests you should write an expository essay , while the word “describe” implies a descriptive essay . An argumentative essay might be prompted with the word “assess” or “argue.”

The vast majority of essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Almost all academic writing involves building up an argument, though other types of essay might be assigned in composition classes.

Essays can present arguments about all kinds of different topics. For example:

  • In a literary analysis essay, you might make an argument for a specific interpretation of a text
  • In a history essay, you might present an argument for the importance of a particular event
  • In a politics essay, you might argue for the validity of a certain political theory

An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.

Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.

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