In academic writing, ‘structure’ refers to the organisation and arrangement of the content within your assignment or research paper. A well-structured academic assignment follows a clear and logical format that helps the reader understand your argument, research or analysis.

In brief, an effective assignment involves:

Importance of structure

Structure in academic writing is important for several reasons, including ensuring clear and effective communication of ideas and providing a logical flow of information. Additionally, well-structured writing allows you to highlight important points and arguments by using clear topic sentences, as well as headings and subheadings if required.

Overall, a good structure improves readability and understanding. Your analysis and evidence might be at a high level, but if your writing doesn’t communicate this clearly, your readers may have difficulty engaging with it.

Structuring an assignment

How you structure your assignment will vary depending on the type of assignment and any specific requirements or guidelines provided by your instructor. Here are some general guidelines that you can adapt to suit your assignment type:

  1. Understand your assignment question. Before you start structuring your assignment, make sure you thoroughly understand what you are being asked to write. Pay attention to the topic, scope, required format, and any specific instructions provided. Refer to the Getting started guide for more information on unpacking a question.

  2. Calculate roughly how many paragraphs you will need to write to meet the required word count. This will help you determine how many main points you can make, which will then help create an outline.

Word Count Calculator

Use our handy calculator to determine roughly how many words you should use per paragraph of your assignment.

Enter assignment requirements

Keep in mind that this calculator should be used as a rough estimate for your paragraphs. You should aim for quality over quantity in your writing and ensure your ideas are expressed clearly, concisely, and are backed up by quality and credible evidence.

  1. Plan your content. Consider what information and arguments you need to include in your assignment. Create a rough outline that lays out your assignment’s main sections and topics. This outline will serve as the foundation for your structure. Refer to the recommended structure on the assignment types page to create a more in-depth outline for each assignment type.

  2. Include the essential elements. Most assignments will require an introduction, a body, a conclusion and a reference list.

Note: All assignment types have different structure and format requirements. This information on this page is intended as a general guide, so ensure that you check the assignment types page for any specific elements necessary for your assignment.


Introductions are an important part of your assessment and will “set the scene” for your reader.

Your introduction should convey the message you will be presenting in the rest of your assignment and state the specific points you will be making without going into too much detail. A good way to start your introduction is to begin with a global statement, i.e., something that will capture the reader’s attention and provide context for the topic you are discussing, such as background information or a brief history of the subject. This can be followed by rewriting your assignment question as a statement, including your argument or stance on the topic*. Finish your introduction giving a brief overview of your paper and by mentioning the key points or sections it will cover.

*Note: In some assignments, particularly essays, you will need to include a thesis statement in the introduction.

Assignment example

  • A global statement paragraph, followed by
  • a context/background/relevance paragraph, followed by
  • a thesis/argument paragraph.

Assignment question:

Will artificial intelligence ultimately benefit or harm humankind?

Introductory paragraph

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly advancing technology that has grown in application and efficiency in the past decade. There have been benefits and concerns regarding its use in different fields (e.g., healthcare).

With the release and popularity of generative AI, communities globally are experiencing firsthand how AI can improve efficiency and personalisation while also experiencing a rise in ‘AI-anxiety’ - “worries surrounding a lack of protection for online data privacy, job loss, and the possibility of overall human obsolescence” (Leffer, 2023).

Ultimately, artificial intelligence will benefit humankind; however, precautions should be taken to mitigate any potential for harm. This can be accomplished in several ways, including government regulations for the ethical collection and use of data, increased human oversight to prevent bias in training data, and investment in job protection for our future workforce.

You can expand on the background of your topic in the body of your assignment if needed. Generally, you wouldn’t include citations in your introduction as it should be primarily made up of your own ideas and opinions; however, if you reference specific sources or quotes, you will must cite them appropriately.

While some people prefer to write their introductions first, another strategy is to write it after the rest of your assignment. This way, you can easily refer to the content you’ve written in the body of your assignment. Whichever way you write it, you should always review your introduction alongside your content to ensure that it flows with the assignment and doesn’t introduce any information you haven’t included in your body paragraphs.


The body of an assignment forms the bulk of your word count/content and is where you present and expand on your main arguments and provide analysis and evidence to support your thesis or central topic.

  • Divide the body of your assignment into logical sections or paragraphs. If your assignment covers multiple subtopics or themes, consider organising the content logically, such as broad to specific (e.g., global to local) or chronologically.
  • Each section or paragraph should focus on a specific point related to your topic and contribute to the overall coherence of your assignment. These sections should flow logically and sequentially.
  • Start each section or paragraph with a clear topic sentence that introduces the main idea of that section.
  • Provide relevant and reliable evidence, such as data, quotations or examples to support each point.
  • Include analysis and interpretation of the evidence to support your arguments and explain the significance of your facts.
  • Acknowledge (and perhaps refute) opposing viewpoints or counterarguments if applicable.
  • Properly cite all sources used within the body of your assignment, following the referencing style specified in your assignment guidelines.
  • Use linking sentences or phrases to ensure a smooth flow between sections.

Paragraph structure

A well-constructed paragraph is essential for conveying your ideas clearly and effectively. Body paragraphs typically consist of the following elements:

PEEL method

  • Point: The topic sentence is the most crucial element of a paragraph. It states the main idea or point of the paragraph, providing readers with a clear indication of what to expect. It should be concise and specific.
  • Evidence: After presenting the topic sentence, you need to provide evidence or examples to support your main idea. This can include data, facts, quotes from reputable sources, or examples from your research. Your evidence should be relevant and directly related to the topic sentence.
  • Explanation/analysis: It’s not enough to merely present evidence; you also need to explain or analyse how the evidence supports your main idea. Demonstrate your critical thinking and understanding of the topic by explaining the significance of the evidence and its implications.
  • Linking: Use linking words and phrases to connect your ideas within the paragraph and to link the paragraph to the preceding and following ones. You can do this by highlighting similarities, contrasts or other relationships between the ideas, repeating key terms or concepts. This helps maintain coherence and flow in your writing. Examples of transitional words include ‘furthermore’, ‘in addition’, ‘however’, ‘conversely’, and ‘therefore’.

Paragraph example

  • A topic sentence/point, followed by
  • a paragraph of evidence, followed by
  • an explanatory paragraph, followed by
  • linking to other paragraphs.

There is a serious and legitimate concern that gen-AI is likely to reproduce and reflect the bias that already exists within human society.

The tools are trained on existing data, and if bias exists within that data, it is likely to be taken on by the AI tools, cannot think critically. Evidence of this bias has already been seen in policing and recruitment functions, where Gen-AI tools are likely to replicate the existing racial and gender biases that already exist within these particular industries (Gonzales, 2023).

Though gen-AI analysis of data and information is significantly quicker and, therefore, more efficient than human analysis, uncritiqued biases in the data will only further harm disadvantaged communities and reinforce existing stereotypes and prejudice.

As a result, and similar to the case of automation, it is necessary to ensure that gen-AI is not making bad decisions without human oversight.

Other things to remember when writing paragraphs

  • Make sure all the sentences in the paragraph closely relate to the main idea presented in the topic sentence and are clearly organised, with one naturally leading to the next.
  • Correctly cite and reference any information or ideas from your sources.
  • It is essential to clearly distinguish between your original ideas and those derived from other sources. Often, a topic sentence or sentence where you provide an analysis or explanation of the evidence you present won’t require a citation. However, if your idea builds upon existing literature, it’s important to acknowledge that literature in your writing, as it demonstrates academic integrity and shows that your ideas are informed by relevant research. For assistance with this, view our Integrating sources guide.
  • While there’s no fixed rule for the length of a paragraph, it should be long enough to fully develop the main idea and provide adequate support and analysis. In academic writing, paragraphs often range from three to eight sentences or around 200 words, but longer paragraphs can be appropriate in certain contexts.


The conclusion signals to the reader that the discussion is coming to an end. Take the time to write a well-structured conclusion to ensure your work is complete and well-rounded. In the conclusion, aim to:

  • summarise the main points of your assignment
  • restate your central argument and its significance
  • leave the reader with a thought-provoking or conclusive statement.

Remember, a good conclusion will help reinforce the key takeaways for the reader and leave them with an understanding of the topic and why it matters.

Ensure that you do not include any new information in your conclusion that has not been mentioned elsewhere in your work. The conclusion functions as a summary, revising content you have covered in the body of your assignment.

Conclusion example

  • A central argument restated, followed by
  • a paragraph which summarises the main points, followed by
  • a conclusive statement.

Gen-AI has the potential to revolutionise how we work and live; however, to be an overall positive change for humanity, solutions to challenges presented by gen-AI should be reviewed and considered carefully to mitigate any harm to humankind.

Since the launch of Chat-GPT in 2022, significant attention has focused on gen-AI’s ability to increase productivity and efficiency, with early adoption industries like healthcare, communication and science freeing up human workers to focus on creation and innovation. However, with the global impact of the technology, evidence shows that developing countries and minority groups will be the least likely to reap benefits, as it is already enhancing existing disparities. Further, there are significant concerns have been raised around privacy and exploitation, reinforcement of bias and prejudice, and job loss through automation. It is important to confront these challenges as they arise, focusing on public education, critical review of training data, and continued training and investment in humankind’s role in the workforce.

Gen-AI development, adoption, and integration must be considered, as well as critical and consultative, to create a human-centred, equitable future for all, where everyone receives the benefits of this remarkable technology.

Reference lists

Include a list of all the sources used in your assignment, following the appropriate referencing style (e.g., APA, Chicago).

Remember that the structure and requirements of academic writing may vary by discipline and institution. Always refer to your specific assignment guidelines and seek feedback from your instructor or advisor to ensure your work meets the expectations of your academic audience.