How students define argument in their subjects

To find out more about how argument is seen in different subjects we asked some postgraduate students to write brief answers to the question, 'What does "argument" mean in your subject?' We asked these students because they are quite experienced writers in their subject, they have recently been undergraduates themselves, and are now thinking hard about what it means to become an authority in their subject. As you will see, their ideas and ways of writing about argument demonstrate how different subjects present the world and make knowledge differently. At the same time, there were common themes in what they said:

• argument as a piece of writing that is 'coherent' with its parts clearly connected to each other, what many call a 'logical flow';

• argument as the presentation of a case, or as examining 'both sides' of a case;

• argument as logically connected writing;

• argument as a 'thesis' with supporting evidence and reasons.

These general points are a useful basis for you to think about argument in your own writing.

It is interesting to compare the tutor comments in Chapter 3 with what the students thought: the tutors talked about 'what I look for in a student's essay' while the students are trying to work out for themselves what they need to do and how their subject works.

Below are some examples of what the students wrote. Please note that these are just examples of what individual students who were thinking about their own work had to say. They are interesting and useful for you to think about and to compare with each other but are not to be taken as standardized directions for how to write.

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