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If you’re looking for the best results, you have to plan accordingly. Narrowing in on first class grades when writing essays and tackling coursework is all about how well you plan and structure your response.

If you want your house to stand firm against gale-force winds, you better build it properly. Your essay is the house, your lecturer is that b**** of a gale-force wind – Anon. 2012

The elements of a first class assignment are broken down into three groupings: knowledge and understanding, analysis and evaluation. Adhering to these three principles should keep you on track to achieving those first class grades.

To illustrate, we’ll be using this example question: “Discuss and critically analyse the legacy of Winston Churchill”

Knowledge and Understanding

This is your foundation. You must demonstrate that you aware of the core course content and provide enough evidence of your ability to place the knowledge within the correct context. The opening (introduction) to your essay is where you exercise this.

To summarise the legacy of Winston Churchill and give the reader a contextual background, you would write:

“The Legacy of Winston Churchill has been made evident in numerous articles over the last decade. Churchill’s legacy began in 1946 when he…”


This requires you to explore all possible views on the subject – in this case the legacy of Winston Churchill. From your research, draw references that both support and oppose the legacy of Winston Churchill.

For example;

In support of Winston Churchill’s legacy: “Gardner (1991) found that 54% of Britain’s population not only knew of Winston Churchill but also found pride in him being a national figure for Britain.”

Opposing the legacy of Winston Churchill: “However, Winston Churchill’s legacy was non-existent in 1945, Howard et al (1986) suggest this is because the people of Britain were still unsure of what would be the full outcome of his leadership”


Put forward your final thoughts based on the evidence you have laid out prior. You might begin:

“While the research of Howard et al (1986) is valuable to the discussion as a whole, they do not take into account that ┬átheir research was conducted during the “baby boomer” period. Therefore, consideration should be given to the thought that a lot more people would have voted in favour of Winston Churchill rather than against him in the 1940s due to the increase of population.”

The most important thing here is to extract the value from all views put forward, then use this to justify your thought process.


This article was compiled using principles and examples taken from How On Earth Do I Get A first (eBook), by Nathan Ghann.