Writing the introduction to your essay

Writing an introduction to your essay is not easy. You only get one chance to make a first impression and this is it. If you are writing an essay outside class then you don’t have to write your introduction first, you could write it at after your main paragraphs and insert it at the beginning and there are good reasons for doing this. Obviously, if you are in an exam this is not going to work, and you will need to write your introduction first. But remember what I said last time about planning and don’t even think about starting to write your introduction until you have a plan! Your plan might look something like this:

Essay question: “Is the present level of immigration in the United Kingdom beneficial to the country?”


-always in news, controversial issue, difficult issue – lack of good data/anecdotal evidence
-immigrants from new European Union countries, immigrants from other countries/refugees/asylum seekers
-give outline of essay
Main paragraph 1
– positive economic arguments – good for economy, fill labour and skill shortages, – doctors, nurses, teachers, farm workers
Main paragraph 2
– negative economic arguments – other view point -takes jobs from natives, drives down wages – evidence??
Main paragraph 3
– social impact – difficult to quantify – diverse multiracial communities, good or bad? Impact on provision of govt services – health/schooling
-generally beneficial impact on UK, though some pressure on public services – govt should spend more money on these

Your plan should be written in note form. From this plan an introduction might look something like:

Immigration is an emotive subject which is seldom out of the news. The recent rise in immigrants in the United Kingdom from the new European Union countries has refocused debate on this controversial issue. It is a topic which is difficult to explore because of the lack of hard data and the preponderance of anecdotal evidence. As already mentioned, immigration recently has largely consisted of Europeans but there is also a constant flow of migrants from other parts of the world, some of whom arrive seeking refuge from war or famine and some of whom claim asylum. This essay will attempt to explore the benefits to the UK of immigration by firstly examining the economic arguments surrounding the issue, and then by looking at the social issues involved.

This introduction makes a good start to the essay because it:

1. says why the topic is important

2. says what difficulties there may be in answering the question

3. defines terms

4. gives an outline of the essay which is to follow

There are set phrases which you can learn to use in your introduction such as This essay will attempt to explore this issue by…. you can see more phrases like this in the Academic Phrasebank at Manchester University and of course this site is always on my list of favourite links on the right-hand side of the page. The other site you should look at is Andy Gillett’s site at the University of Hertforshire and the part on Writing introductions (also in my list of favourites).