Thursday, 13 July 2017

Writing a Thesis Statement in Your Introduction

Writing a Thesis Statement in Your Introduction

Your thesis statement is the most important component of an introduction, so it’s vital that you get this part right, even if you make some mistakes with the two other components. We have a full guidebook on writing a good thesis statement with many more examples that you can download at the Academic Coaching website: For now, we’ll cover all of the basics here so that you can understand how to write a thesis statement for your essay introduction.

A thesis statement tells the reader the main point that your essay is trying to make. This is not merely repeating the topic of the essay or giving the field of study, but instead it’s giving a contention, argument or perspective that you will take on the field of study. A thesis statement needs to be something that is disputable or debatable, meaning that it’s something that requires support or evidence and isn’t just an obvious, vague, or indisputable fact.

For example, the following would be a weak thesis statement:

This essay will show that Nelson Mandela was the first democratic president of South Africa.

This sentence can’t be a thesis statement, and it instead would fit much better as context since it is giving background information. The point isn’t disputable, since it’s a fact that Nelson Mandela was the first democratic president of South Africa. There is no debate, and your essay won’t need to provide any support or evidence for this point.

However, if you change it into a unique perspective, something that is debatable, your essay becomes much more interesting and you are providing a thesis statement:

This essay will show that Nelson Mandela’s leadership style helped to prevent social upheaval after the first democratic elections, and that without the symbolic fatherhood that he provided, the country was in serious danger of going into a civil war.

This is now a thesis statement. You’re not just stating a fact, but you’re stating a perspective which incorporates many different ideas and synthesizes them into a thesis, a contention which is debatable. Someone else could disagree with you here, and provide their own support for why Nelson Mandela was actually a weak president. But no one could disagree with the first statement that he was the first president; this statement is self-evident and not debatable.

Your thesis statement needs to build on your context. Your context shows the basic arena that your discussion takes place in, and your thesis statement shows the angle you will take and the main contention that you will support throughout your essay.

Your thesis statement needs to provide an answer to the question which was asked in your essay topic, and shouldn’t just rephrase your essay topic. For example, imagine that your professor assigns you the following essay topic:

Write an essay of 5000 words in which you analyze the impact of climate change on rural agriculture in Puerto Rico.

You are being asked to do one main thing in this essay. There might be many extra parts to the question that your professor adds to this main point, but you are essentially being asked to answer the following question:

How does climate change impact rural agriculture in Puerto Rico?

Your thesis statement now needs to directly answer that question. It can’t just rephrase the question. For example, the following thesis statement merely gives the topic again in a slightly different form, but doesn’t actually answer the question:

In this essay, I will analyze the impact of climate change on rural agriculture in Puerto Rico.

This might look like a complete thesis statement, and it’s the type of thesis statement I get a million times from my students who don’t yet fully grasp what a thesis statement is supposed to do. In this sentence, you’re just telling me that you will eventually answer the question, but I want to know what your answer is, right at the start, in your introduction.
A better thesis statement would look as follows:

In this essay, I will show that climate change has drastically affected rural agriculture in Puerto Rico due to the fact that 15% of arable land has been rendered useless by rising sea levels. However, my analysis will also show that farmers have had to introduce more innovation such as different soil types, which ultimately could result in greater crop yields.

You are answering the question quite directly here. You’re telling me how rural agriculture was affected by climate change, not just saying that you’ll answer this question at some point in your essay and the reader will just have to hold out hope that the answer will come eventually. From the start, I know that there have been negative effects, but there has also been greater innovation, and that there is some hope for agriculture in the country. Now, I’ll be interested to read the rest of your essay to see how you support your claims.

The points are again debatable, and not merely statements of fact. You’ll have to clearly show the reader why climate change was to blame for rising sea levels, citing professionals in the field. Another researcher might argue that it wasn’t climate change that caused it, but instead changes in farming styles the produced more waste. You’re taking a perspective on the topic, and you have a contention which you need to support with evidence. You’re not simply parroting facts, but you’re using your critical thinking skills to show the reader something they might not have thought about before.

Your thesis statement should be very short and clear. Try and aim for one to three sentences, but no more than that. You’re only giving your main point, and there’s still some room in your introduction for a bit more information, so don’t squeeze it all into your thesis statement.

Remember that you can learn much more about writing a good thesis statement in the free workbook available at, but for now, let’s move on to the final part of your introduction so that we can see what an entire introduction looks like in an academic essay.

Review Your Learning:
·         A thesis statement steers the course of your essay
·         Have one argument or main point in your thesis statement
·         Your thesis statement builds on the context
·         Make your thesis statement disputable
·         Create interest

·         Your thesis statement is one to three sentences long