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Writing introductions

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Starting points

Remember the purpose of an introduction is to:

Most introductions begin with an orientation, which is a brief general statement that leads the reader into the topic and shows how the specific topic relates to bigger issues or to the discipline. This is followed by your thesis statement, and then a brief outline of the essay’s argument. You may find it helpful to think of an essay's introduction as funnel shaped, moving from the general to the specific.


Generally speaking, an effective introduction:


1. introduces the topic of the piece of writing


2. provides any necessary definitions of terms in the topic


3. provides any necessary background information on the topic


4. gives the reader a clear overview of what will be discussed and in what order



Consider the strengths and weaknesses of this introduction to this essay:


E.g.1. During the Holocaust six million Jews were murdered including over one million children yet the hatred of Jews did not begin with Hitler and the Nazi regime. Antisemitism has been present throughout history and the purpose of this essay is to analyse the main features of antisemitism in Christianity and discuss their continuance in the beliefs of the Third Reich. The essay will continue the credibility of Hilberg’s statement that “The German Nazis did not discard the past; they built upon it. They did not begin a development; they completed it”


From the first centuries of Christianity there has been the existence of anti-Judaism and antisemitism. Jews were termed as the ‘murderers of God’ or were reviled for refusing to admit the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. There is some debate between Christian historians of the emergence of antisemitism, possibly in Langmuir’s opinion an attempt to absolve Christianity of any fault during the atrocities of the twentieth century. It is the opinion of some historians that Christian anti-Semitism set the precedent for Hitler’s regime and that he was able to exploit it in order to further his aims, even the Nazi Swastika is described as being a broken cross. 


Look at your introduction again and consider how you could develop it to open up your answer to the question.




Check out this guidance on Writing Introductions and Conclusions


Try this tutorial on Writing introductions



Explore how Meg introduces her essay and her tutor’s comments:

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Deirdre Burke created this on 30 March 2009.
This was last edited on 30 March 2009.
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