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on 10 April 2007
I'm currently studying for an MA - but not now within the Social Sciences as this book is aimed for! My MA started in Social Sciences and moved to another subject area; however this book has helped me with all of my essays.

Although I'm studying with the Open University I would recommend this book for all students - and also at degree level. What Redman has done is tailor for all institutions then added a small section for all OU students at the end of each chapter.

The chapters are easy to follow and I would suggest flicking through it once but then dipping in and out of it as necessary. He covers topics such as:

* What tutors look for when marking essays

* Matching the answer to the question

* Stages of writing

* Writing each part of the essay

* How to reference

* Examples are also included.

These are just a few of the sections covered and the appendices all has in it areas such as what to do when you get your essay back. The layout is very similar to a report; each chapter has sub-sections which are numbered and bulleted.

I'm not particularly academic and essay writing does not come easily to me, yet this book really has changed how I write my essays.
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on 14 April 2001
Whilst the subject matter is not the most exciting this book is written in an engaging and easy style that encourages you to read on. It is a mine of useful hints and tips with essay examples. The book includes useful appendices including information on referencing which covers details on referencing from 'new media' which is becoming increasingly popular. There is a slant towards Open University students with seperate information boxes dedicated to OU students however the information and advice will be invaluable to all students at all levels. I would advise keeping this book to hand to use as a quick reference guide when you have your next essay to write.
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on 8 April 2006
I bought this book and read it before starting an OU Degree in Pychology starting with Social Sciences DD121. Fantastic - I have not formally studied for years and years - this book has rested some fears, made good sense, had good balance, and well presented.
Just 1 BUT! I did not understand a word of essay 1 - I guess I have some work to do!
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on 24 February 2011
I have read many books on writing essays. Social Science essays are of a particular type and, having coming from a traditional scientific background, I had little experience of non-scientific based writing. Writing technical or statistical reports were no problem. Once I moved into studying Social Science and Humanities I realised I needed a different approach.

Redman's book hit the spot exactly. It is around a 100 pages long and I have read others which are much longer but fail to add anything worthwhile. Many of the longer ones seem to add excess material such as "how to organise your time" or "develop your own timetable". Redman does not waste time on this but instead starts off with the basics such as "What are tutors looking for?" and also "What is a social science essay?". He then progresses to different types of questions and how to structure introductions, conclusions and the main body of the essay. The book also talks about referencing and addresses some common worries in essay writing. It concludes with 2 essay examples answering the same question. One is an 'average' essay the other closer to a top mark. The differences, weaknesses and strengths, from a marker's point of view, are given which is invaluable for students.

Peter Redman is a lecturer at the Open University and, from the evidence in this book, not only knows his own subject area but is a very good communicator too. I would recommend this book to any Social Science student who is struggling to structure their essays in a "social scientific" way.

Did the book work for me? Yes. After reading it I achieved the top grade in every essay I wrote and passed my final year modules with distinction. This in turn helped me to achieve a PhD place. What more can I say? Well one more thing... Peter, if you read this could you write a similar book on doing PhDs please???
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on 13 March 2011
This is a brief but comprehensive guide to good academic writing. It will be particularly useful for OU students, those of us who are unused to the demands of academic writing, those who are returning to education and anyone who lacks confidence in their writing abilities.

As a stranger to referencing, I found the sections on how to create a bibliography/ reference list very helpful.

There are examples of 'good' and 'bad' writing and on how to structure and develop each section of your assignment. The author gives useful advice about how to develop, present and evidence an argument.

Cautionary note: it is not a book 'about' social science nor will it write an assignment for you.
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You couldn't ask for a clearer or more practical guide. I put off reading this, thinking it would be the usual, common-sense stuff, and in any case I was a good student already, I thought; I was getting along fine, with marks usually in the high Pass 2 (merit) or - if I was lucky - in the low Pass 1 (distinction) bands. But it was hit and miss. Sometimes I'd just miss out on Pass 1 marks by a few percentage points, without really knowing why.

This book puts it all in perspective. With particularly helpful sections on planning, introductions, writing the main body and conclusions, it's helped me prepare more sure-fire top marks essays. It's helped me realise what writing critically really means - while I was managing to do that independently some of the time before, almost by accident, I can now make a conscious effort to create critical and analytical pieces of writing. The proof of the pudding: I applied what I'd read here to my latest assignment, and got a Pass 1 mark with great feedback, especially on the elements like structure.

Bite the bullet, work your way through the chapters in this book, and hopefully you'll see a similar boost in your grades. It's not a particularly hefty tome, with short, manageable chapters that shouldn't distract you too much from your core course materials. My only gripe - I should have read it years ago!
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on 6 June 2004
I'm doing a psychology course with the OU and this is one of the recommended books for DSE212.
It's very useful to get your hands on before starting your course so you can skim read most of it. It's not important that you remember everything in it, you just need to know where to find useful bits of info later in the course.
It's an excellent resource.
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on 31 July 2008
I dont often write reviews but after recieving a 100% for my last asssignment by using this book, i thought i must write something. (My previous grades had ranged from 70-85%, so this was an incredible jump which i could never have dared hope for. In all of my assignments i knew my subject and was familiar with the various studies, but structuring and knowing how to put it all together is a different ballgame altogether. This is where Redman's book comes in.

This book was recommended to me by my tutor and every time i've gone through it, i'm always taking something new. It was the example of a top level essay that clinched my grade for me. Seeing a practical example on how to pull all the different essay components put together really helped me to pick out the faults in my assignments. I sat there for hours in the library going through that essay and trying to work out how the writer organised the information in each parapragh. It makes the planning and actual essay writing so much simpler when you have something like that to go refer back to.

I'm not going to go on about whats included in each chapter (i think the previous reviwers have already done that) but if you are seriously committed to developing your essay-writing skills, this book is an absolute must. You could just flick through the chapters if you want, but in order to get top marks, my advice would be to set aside some time to really break down the examples provided.
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on 7 June 2011
I have just returned to studying through an OU course on the Social Sciences. This guide has clear concise guidance on how to break down what is required from you when writing your assignments. It also tells you how to take relevant notes and helps you to really get yourself organised for preparing any work that you are undertaking.
Most of the advice given is available to me on the OU website, but in different places and formats. This has everything all in one easily accessible place. This book is proving invaluable to me and there are sections relevant to students studying at a higher and more indepth level than me.
This book is a wonderfully useful resource for students at all levels of study and has really helped me in my assignments.
Thank you sage & OU!!! :)
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VINE VOICEon 16 February 2009
So many new students, whether young or mature, are taking new courses where there are formal essay requirements.

99% of such students cannot write an essay according to markable academic criteria; but they think they can.

Unfortunately the standard we all produced in school is not good enough for formal academic work.

This books is legendary in the open university and it has been available as the gospel work to other academic institutions for some time now.

It does go a little too far in pursuing the golden prize; but its easy to ignore that part.

This will get you extra points in your assignment.
Follow the guidance and get those free extra marks!
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