Written Assignment: The Rules


The Written Assignment is composed of 4 distinct stages:

  1. The Interactive Oral – a discussion of roughly 50 minutes where we talk about the cultural background of the text and explore how understanding that background can help to give us a better understanding of the text. This is not assessed.
  2. The Reflective Statement – a 300 word reflection on how the interactive oral improved your understanding of the text. This will be sent off to the examiner with the final draft of your written assignment and is assessed.
  3. The Supervised Writing – an hour or so of silent writing in class where you respond to three or four prompts from me that are intended to give you some inspiration about the topics that you might explore in the final written assignment. This is not assessed but is kept by the school in order to provide a reference point for how good your work so that we have something to refer to in cases of potential plagiarism.
  4. The Written Assignment – a 1500 word essay that explores one particular aspect of the text in depth and detail. This is assessed.



In the final Written Assignment you must:

·         independently write an essay exploring one specific element of a text that we have studied in class;

·         choose your own title and the topic for comparison;

·         write an essay of 1500 words - quotations are included in the word count but bibliographies and citations are not;

·         reference quotations using MLA style in-text quotations – for example (author’s name; page n.o.), e.g. (Salih; p.217);

·         provide a bibliography at the end of the essay - including the following information (Author (date published), Book title, Translator, Publishing Company, City Published, Country);

·         use a header to include your name on the top right hand corner of every page;

·         double space your writing;

·         produce a coversheet that states your name, the essay title and the word count.



The Written Assignment essay is meant to asses your:



Before deciding on a Written Assignment title, it is important that you understand what it is you are being asked to do.



·         Always remember, that the aim of your assignment is to enlighten / improve the reader's understanding of the text in some way.

·         You must show an understanding of the writer's craft - the ways in which they use imagery, plot, characterisation, narrative point of view etc. to convey their message character relationships etc.

·         You no longer have to show an awareness of different cultures unless these references to cultural issues are directly relevant to the ideas that your are exploring in your essay because they enhance the point you are trying to make / illuminate the text in some way.


In your essay you should:

In order to do this you will need to write persuasively and show a detailed knowledge of the texts. You need to pinpoint specific evidence in the texts to support your points: the more precise your evidence the better. Remember also that it is not good enough just supplying a list of quotations that are relevant to your chosen topic. You have to analyse them and show an understanding of the effect of each individual quotation and how they work together to create an overall meaning.


      A common tendency is to think of a topic, for example the relationship between the motif of infection and the theme of post-colonialism, and to then force every example of infection to be related to the theme of post-colonialism in some way. Forcing two ideas to link in this way often does violence to the text and often means that you will miss out on some of the more subtle and complex points that you could make. Try to avoid being reductive in this way and instead be open minded when exploring the role that a given motif (or any feature) plays. Instead of forcing a link between two ideas, the best essays will probably pick just one feature of the text, e.g. the motif of infection, and then explore all of the different roles that this motif plays in the text. One of these roles might be linked to post-colonialism, but this motif might also be used as a tool for characterization, to create moments of tension in the text … or a whole range of possible other effects.


·         Write in a personal voice

This does not mean that you have to include the word ‘I’ a lot. Ideally if you are writing about your own idea and you are excited about it then this should come through in the way that you write. Comments like, “I too lived through a military dictatorship …’ may have some relevance but you should not develop them in depth and spend ages discussing your personal experience. Importantly you should not just adopt my view, the view of someone else in class or the view of a critic that you have read. People always sound different when they are writing about something they don’t quite believe in, or worse still, don’t quite get.


·         Ensure that you have a proper essay structure

·         As with any essay your Written Assignment should include some brief introductory and concluding remarks

·         The introduction should outline what your essay is going to be about and introduce the main points that you will make. Keep it short, concise and try to make it as engaging as possible

·         The main body should reveal your insight into the text studied. Following the introduction, it is best to use the first paragraph (or set of paragraphs) to explore the main point that you outlined first in the introduction and finish this completely before moving on to explore the second main point. This clear transition from one main point to another should be evident throughout the essay.

·         The conclusion does not need to sum up everything you have said so far, in fact it can make for a more powerful essay if you end on a most effective / more powerful point or a quotation that encapsulates the main ideas that you have discussed in your essay


Possible topics that could be explored in your Written Assignment are:

·         The techniques that the author has used to create a sense of character or of the relationships between characters

·         The way in which a character / characterization is used to convey a certain idea or series of ideas

·         The role of the setting in the text

·         Symbols / motifs / imagery and the role these play in conveying a certain idea

·         The mood / tone / feeling evoked by a text and how this is achieved

·         The treatment of a theme / message / comment on the human condition

·         The use of narrative technique or other literary features