Essay Plan and Annotated Bibliography

Weighting of this assignment: 25%

(as % of total coursework assessment for the unit)


It is your responsibility to be aware of University Regulations relating to academic offences and to avoid committing them.  The BU definitions and the penalties are listed in: Academic Offences: Policy & Procedure for Taught Awards

If you are unable to submit your assignment on time due to medical or other mitigating circumstances you must complete a Exceptional Circumstances form PRIOR to the deadline and submit it for approval.

Details of what you are expected to do:

1.  Rationale

This assignment will give you the opportunity to reflect on and develop you own academic practice skills, by helping you understand what an essay is and what it takes to plan them.

Planning and writing an essay are essential skills in higher education. Not only your degree is likely to include several essays, but the skills required to do them can be used in other types of academic work. The analytical and critical thinking skills you will develop by learning how to do essays, will also be beneficial in your professional practice.

Key development areas include a) initial topic definition, b) basic literature search, c) academic paper reading and analysis, d) structuring ideas and e) academic integrity and referencing. These are skills which will be required at degree level study, and therefore they will be discussed and practiced ahead of submission, with support from key university services including the library and study skills team.

2.  The learning outcome being assessed

Demonstrate academic practice skills development

3.  Overview of assignment

Essay plan and annotated bibliography – Tools and techniques for effective learning (1,500 words)

For this assignment you will write an essay plan outlining how you will explore the key tools and techniques students require for effective learning in higher education. You will consider the various areas identified within the lectures to build your essay plan, as well as sources relevant to the subject to develop your annotated bibliography.

You are expected to submit the following information:

  1. Topic area (100-200 words):

In this section you are expected to:

  • Provide the web link to the document (piece of news, report) featuring a current integrity incident related to professional practice in your degree area
    • Brief description of the integrity related issues contained in that document (no more than 3)
    • Indication of what integrity issue you intend to focus (from the 3)
  • Relevance of the issue (200-300 words)

In this section, you should explain the significance of your chosen issue, by bringing in facts about the following:

a) the size of the issue

b) the prevalence of the issue

c) its consequences to individuals, businesses and/or society.

This section allows you to start building the case as to why your topic is important (i.e. why the chosen integrity issue is important to study and address).

  • Causes of the issue (600-700 words)

Understanding the potential causes of the issue, or in other words why the issue could have happened, is a critical element of an essay. This is because it’s only by addressing causes that the result/outcome can be changed (In other words, if you do exactly the same thing over and over again, you are going to get the same results over and over again).

In this part of the essay plan, you are expected to address the following (theory focused):

  • Using relevant ‘theory’ is essential when understanding causes. Therefore, you are expected to identify some of the causes for the issue you are addressing, based on the analysis of a minimum of five journal articles.
    • For each individual journal article, identify the potential causes for the issue, using a suitable annotated bibliography format. This will likely result in the identification of multiple causes, which you may want to bring together by creating a list of potential causes.
  • Selection of key causes (200-300 words)

Based on the list of causes, identify 3 to 5 causes that you think will be the most relevant for your case study, providing a brief tentative explanation of why you think they are the most relevant.

  • Your next steps (200-300 words)

In this section, briefly explain what you plan to do to improve your plan ahead of writing your essay for assignment 2. Here you can consider:

a) what additional searches you plan to carry out,

b) additional articles you plan to analyse,

c) how you plan to analyse your articles in order to achieve greater depth of analysis.

You can submit your essay plan using bullet points as explained in class, supported by brief explanations whenever required (e.g. introducing a section or a theme, or provide details about your reasoning).

4.  Assessment criteria and weightings

This assessment constitutes 25% of your overall mark for this unit. Your assessment will be assessed against the following criteria:

Skills categoryPerformance criteriaWeighting
Subject knowledge & understandingIdentifies suitable integrity causes and consequences related to the chosen integrity incidentDemonstrates extensive reading and research of academic sources (journal articles and textbooks)25%
Intellectual skillsOrganises the results of the literature research (relevance, causes) in a coherent and logical way Backs up claims with appropriate evidence, including academic sources (journal articles and textbooks)25%
Subject specific skillsIdentifies suitable integrity issues related to the chosen incident/case study example  Selects appropriate causes for the chosen integrity issueIdentified suitable areas of academic practice improvement ahead of assignment 2 submission25%
Transferable skillsStructurePresentational style Grammar/syntax Appropriate use and referencing of secondary material. Compliance with format and parameters guidelines25%

5. Additional information

WARNING: Referencing ‘non-academic’ Internet sites (e.g.,,, and so on) is strictly forbidden.

However, you can use the Internet for the purpose of finding information about your issue which is not available through academic sources. Try to back up your essay plan with as many relevant academic references as possible.

6. Format and Parameters

  • The essay plan should be no longer than 1500 words from the Introduction to the Conclusion. Thus, you need not include in your word count the title page or references;
  • You do not need to include a contents page;
  • In the first page, include a) the provisional title of your essay and b) a word count
  • If the essay plan is above the maximum word count permitted (1500 words), only the first 1500 words will be marked (this rule does not apply to ALS students who are entitled to a higher word count);
  • The essay must be word processed using:
  • 12-point Times New Roman or 11 point (Arial) as your main font.
  • 1.5 spacing between lines for sentences, and single spacing for bullet point material
  • Left/right margins of 3 cm / 1 inch
  • Justified alignment for complete sentences (the text is aligned to the left and to the right margins of the page)
  • It should also:
    • be spell-and-grammar checked
    • be written in the third person (do not use I or we). Examples: “this essay will focus on…”, “three main issues have been identified in the literature as possible explanations for…”, “based on previous studies (References), the most important cause is…”
    • be referenced according to the BU Harvard Referencing System;
  • No appendices are allowed. If it is important, it should be shown along with the main text.

7. Study support

There is extensive support available to you:

  • Read this assignment brief several times ahead of submission as it contains detailed guidance about what is expected from you;
  • Attend all lectures, seminars and workshops as complementary information will be relayed during these
  • Look at the discussion board where students can ask questions. It is expected that many of your questions will find an answer in this resource.
  • If you still feel you have not got a satisfactory answer to your query, post your question on the most suitable topic area of the discussion board.

Visit the Study Skills Community to learn more about a number of skills that you are required to demonstrate in this essay, such as essay writing, critical analysis and writing skills

Disclaimer: The information provided in this assignment brief (version number: 1) is correct at time of publication.  In the unlikely event that any changes are deemed necessary, they will be communicated clearly via e-mail and/or via Brightspace and a new version of this assignment brief will be circulated.

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