Now that you understand the importance of ‘raising the rafters’ around which to build a solid roof – referring to the key terms of the question in order to provide a solid frame for your conclusion – you need to summarise the main arguments that you have discussed throughout your coursework. To follow the building metaphor, you need to fit the tiles onto the frame you have built from the rafters.

03 Conc 02 01


What do we mean by ‘Fitting the Tiles’?


We at The Coursework Club use ‘Fitting the Tiles’ to refer to a crucial element of our roof building (building of our conclusion), without which, our conclusion would fail in one of its key duties: that of summarising the key discussions, arguments, and schools of thought related to the question topic. Remember, a conclusion must be a summary, or a microcosm, of the entire essay.


What do we mean, ‘summarising the key discussions, arguments, and schools of thought’?


Let’s imagine that you have included in your essay a number of arguments that have been put forward by different groups and individuals. These arguments will relate directly to the ‘Hot Topic’ (remember, from Unit 1 – The Introduction?). They are opinions that you have commented upon and, either supported, in whole or in part, or criticised as insufficient or simply not true. You need to summarise some of these key arguments in your conclusion.

Now, imagine that each one of these arguments is like a tile being fitted to your roof, providing protection from the elements (wind, rain, snow etc.). The protection that each one of these ‘tiles’ offers your coursework, is against the scrutiny of the examiner who is looking to pick holes in your judgements (discussed later) and criticisms related to those who have written about the topic. The examiner does not want to live in a house that has a leaky roof – she wants watertight protection; she wants a conclusion that fits.

Let’s continue to use the same example question, so that you can better see how to summarise the key arguments and discussions surrounding the ‘Hot Topics’:

Example 1

How far would you agree that the Domino Theory was the main reason JFK became involved in Vietnam?

What might some of the key arguments surrounding this topic be?

  • Yes, some people believe, and have commented, that the Domino Theory was the main reason for JFK’s involvement in Vietnam.
  • No, some people believe, and have commented, that the Domino Theory was not the main reason for JFK’s involvement in Vietnam – believing that there are other, more important reasons.
  • There are those people who believe, and have commented, that the Domino Theory was important, but as one reason in a complex system of causation and motivation.

Now, all you need to do is make sure you summarise these arguments in a brief but articulate manner in your conclusion.

You will have already discussed these arguments in depth in the main body of your coursework, you should only be synthesising (combining concisely) them in your conclusion.

Let’s see how you might do this, with a basic example related to this question.

When JFK was assassinated in November 1963, he had overseen an unprecedented escalation in US interest in Vietnam, from one that lay primarily in the area of aid and assistance, to one that encompassed military personnel, direct administration of Vietnamese domestic policy, and a strategic view of the country as, “The Place”. As the evidence suggests, the Domino Theory was clearly one of the main reasons behind this escalation of interest, because it provided an apparently sound geopolitical cause of US involvement. This school of thought is pioneered primarily by conservative Cold War historians and political commentators, who tend to oversimplify complex geopolitical international decisions. A counter to this argument, and one that is equally oversimplified, emerges from economic historians who see the Cold War as more of a background issue, and view America’s desire to access the raw materials of the countries of South East Asia as the primary reason for JFK’s involvement in Vietnam. As a result, these oversimplifications often cloud the arguments from post-Cold War commentators – who employ more pragmatic arguments –, preferring to resolve the discussions by agreeing that there was no single main cause of US involvement, but that it was a result of myriad causal factors, such as...

Here we have three ‘schools of thought’, or arguments in this conclusion. There may be more, there may be fewer. Summarise the main ones.


What you have learned

This section has shown you the importance of summarising the key arguments of the question in your conclusion. Using a clear example, we have shown you how to remind the examiner of the most important schools of thought related to your chosen topic – schools of thought that, don’t forget, you have already examined in detail throughout the main body of your coursework. By practicing these skills, you are effectively placing, with precision, the protective roof tiles, on your rafters. Your roof/conclusion, is beginning to look solid and purposeful. Now, apply these skills to your work.

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