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What Is Coursework in College?


College coursework is basically a student’s extended paper or a project which aims to develop writing skills and demonstrate the level of your knowledge in this field. It is a kind of paper that you complete during the year, unlike the exam at the end of a course. The exact definition of college coursework is blurry. It depends on the subject.

So, for example, a college coursework for English could be an essay on a topic that a student picks. Another example could be geography college coursework which is usually a research paper aimed at gathering data in order to answer a specific question related to geography. Science coursework often presents itself in a form of a student’s own experiment or a project.

Usually, your coursework has a set of criteria given by the professor. It is up to the individual colleges and professors to define coursework topics, length, due dates, etc., but one of the main reasons why I prefer this type of assignment to exams is the time that I have to think about it. Although college-level coursework varies depending on the subject, one thing in common for all types of coursework is research. You can sit on the couch without panic, wearing old but comfortable pajamas and research your topic as much as you want. 


The style of coursework is formal. Instead of saying “I think that the type of research by Jackson (2007) has created a big debate about anorexia”, you should write “the results of Jackson’s research (2007) has created a big debate about anorexia”.

Here is another example. The sentence “In the lab, we recorded the mass in milligrams” you must change to “In the lab, class experimenters were asked to mass the substance in milligrams”. A sentence like “the public were pissed off at politicians” is inappropriate for your paper.


Many students find it an easier task once they learn the systematic steps in coursework writing such as developing a topic, finding relevant resources, organizing ideas, actual writing and editing. As you can see, the steps for coursework writing do not differ from the steps in research essay writing.

The introduction in your paper sets the scene and says how the question will be answered. You should also describe or define the topic in that part of the writing. You will then review evidence supporting your argument followed by evidence against it. The summary of the points will be included in the conclusion at the end. That’s the structure in a nutshell. Let’s take a closer look.

As soon as you know your assignment topic for the coursework, examine it carefully. Analyzing the topic ensures you spend your time searching for relevant information in a logical and productive way. To do this, you also need to note any restrictions. For example, the question may be asking for an analysis of bullying in the workplace, but only in relation to office work. In other words, read the title carefully and make sure you stick to the question.

Break down the topic into its key parts. Once you have picked out the key words in the title, you can use them to search for anything that has been written on the subject. In an academic paper you want to cement your ideas through reviews of books and literature material.

Steps to Take to Have Great College Coursework

College student

The steps involved in the writing process of coursework are pre-writing, which is generating ideas, understanding others’ ideas and collecting information. The next step is planning which involves building a loose structure for your essay, including how it will flow. Drafting is the next stage. This involves putting your ideas down on paper and following the plan you have made.

Reflection is the second to last step. It ensures that your paper answers all of the relevant questions asked and all of the points you have made are backed up by evidence. In my college we also practiced peer review. Students looked through my coursework and gave me their two cents. The final step is editing and proofreading. This is when you double and triple check spelling, grammar, etc. and make sure your coursework is free of errors, and you have not missed anything critical.

Critical thinking and an analysis are skills which you will build up when writing college papers. They are an attractive quality in the job market with prospective employers. Critical thinking will make you more apt at making the correct decisions and reasonable judgments. Having a questioning attitude throughout your studies when you are reading, listening, watching or analyzing will benefit you immensely. All arguments should be cogent and evidence-based.

As a part of your coursework, you must first of all, describe the topic and then critically answer the question. As part of the writing process you will include other viewpoints, theories and evidence to support your findings.

Here are some personal tips. Organize your ideas well. You need to arrange your content, from the thesis statement, the main argument about matters discussed, to the manner in which you offer supporting evidence, in order to score top grades.

Formulate the main argument, think of and look for ideas supporting the main argument. The next step is to get evidence from different authors. Then formulate a conclusion concerning the different points of view and considering the thesis statement. Make sure this process is systematic.

Do not forget about referencing your sources, so that the reader can find the source from which you have gathered your information.

I hope you have a better understanding of what college coursework is, but why do you need to spend hours writing that college coursework? Believe me, it really helps you develop your writing skills so that you can write professional documentation in the future alongside developing your research skills. But critical thinking is the number one skill that develops from writing coursework. It is one of the few abilities you can master in college.

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