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How to Write an Analytical Essay in Religious Studies: Your Handy Guide

Recalling college years, students have both the happiest and sad moments. The latter ones are usually related to their written assignments and the troubles that those written assignments have led to. Writing is really tough, whatever the topic is. But topics on religious studies seem to be the toughest. Where to look for answers? What knowledge to use? How to write? How to correctly express your ideas? These questions are so overwhelming!

If you need to write in religious studies, but one or all of the above-mentioned questions are not answered, follow this handy guide.

How to Write an Analytical Essay in Religious Studies, not Religion

So, the first and foremost thing you need to understand is that you are writing in religious studies, not religion itself. Religious studies are part of the academic environment. The paper you are writing is going to be read by your academic supervisor, and not the members of the faith-oriented community. That’s why you need to forget about demonstrating provocative concepts like those of existence, reincarnations, supernatural issues, metaphysical notions, etc.

On the contrary, you’d better apply efforts to understand religion from a perspective that can be understood and shared by many other regular readers.

How to Write an Analytical Essay in Religious Studies Escaping Dangers

One of the top aims of a writer (you) is to create a piece that will not be insulting the beliefs of other people. Even if your draft is unbelievably good, it shouldn’t be demanding or biased to other people. Researchers and expert writers agree to the idea that there are three top important things you need to help in your mind while you are working on analytical work in religious studies. These things are commonly referred to as dangers.

  1. In your eyes, religions must be equal. Whatever religious topic you are discussing and analyzing in the flow of your work, you must forget about suggesting that your personal religion is somehow better than that of others. Don’t end the notion of “true” religion to your paragraphs. Otherwise, be sure that your supervisor will penalize it harshly.
  2. No religion is the enemy of other beliefs. The trouble is that a modern student studying for instance the Islam religion believes that it is connected to terrorism and poses threats to people of different denominations. You’d better recollect on Christianity and the fair share of extremism it has been having for many centuries. Today, no one is stating that Christians are nothing but Spanish inquisitors burning witches…
  3. You should not tell people (your readers) to convert to your religion. The right of faith is protected by the Constitution. Telling people of other religions that they should betray their families’ beliefs is so undignified. Plus, this isn’t something that will win you a high grade.

Even though you are providing arguments and analyzing while writing an analytical essay in religious studies, you have to apply efforts to keep objective and unbiased. In the case of many arguments, support each one with strong evidence provided by authoritative literature forces. Sounding demanding and aggressive, you won’t be able to succeed in the writing field.

Tired of all the guides and never-ending instructions?

How to Write an Analytical Essay in Religious Studies: Safe Sources

By safe we mean trustworthy, dependable, foolproof sources that could back up all of the claims of your analytical essay. The evidence or proof can come from primary or secondary sources, journal articles and texts. In a perfect world, your curator or supervisor should inform you of the sources that are required for your written assignment.

As you are deciding on the viable proof, concentrate on the one that not simply supports the claims but also provides rather convincing arguments. Upon gathering all supportive arguments, note them down into a list and don’t forget to mention where you’ve found each of them.

How to Write an Analytical Essay in Religious Studies: Design Pattern

Before actually sharing the recommended structural points, let’s have a close overlook of how your essay should look like. To start with, make it at least five paragraphs. The first one is the introduction or the intro for short. Then, there goes the body of your analytical essay in religious studies. The fifth one is the conclusion.

Secondly, it doesn’t mean that writing anything beyond these five paragraphs is a crime. It’s just that when you are aiming to write anything really long, you are supposed to plan the outline accordingly, trying to distribute all points throughout the essay. It’s OK to make your essay as long as you believe it should be to cover all of the important points. However, before you put much effort and time into the process, discuss the variabilities of the lengths with your supervisor.

  • Start with brainstorming the topic if you haven’t got it yet

Curators usually provide their students with tailored topics. Sometimes, the topics are too general and a student is allowed to make his/her topic a bit narrower. To pick the correct direction, you need to brainstorm to decide on the subject that might be interesting, intriguing and supported by many sources.

To make things at least a bit easier, we suggest you paying attention to one of these topics in religious studies. Who knows, maybe one of them will meet your needs:

  • Religion: How to Find the Difference Between Myths, Truth, and Personal Perceptions;
  • Hinduism and Related Gender Problems;
  • The Religion of Western Europe and Ideological Pluralism;
  • Religions That Influenced Tibetan Medicine;
  • Why Global Religions Fail at Promoting Global Peace and National Tolerance?
  • The Freedom of Speech: Should the Books That Offend Someone’s Religion Be Protected by the Law?
  • The Coalition of World Religion for Helping Poor People: A Dream or Reality?
  • The Common Aspects and Small Differences in World Religions;
  • The Coexistence of Evolution-Related Beliefs and Those of Religion;
  • What World Religions Accept Scientific Education. Why?
  • The Place of Patient’s Religion in Making Emergency Medical Decisions;
  • Violence in the Name of God: The Rule of the Middle Ages or of Our Present?
  • How Can Religion Participate in Promoting Health Among Its Flock?
  • Destruction of the Religious Art as the Hate Crime;
  • Why Religions Should Finally Accept Gay Marriages?
  • The Place of Religion in Modern Media;
  • Taking on the Issue of Animal Cruelty by Religious Organizations;
  • Religion: An Option, Choice, or a Necessity?
  • The Endorsement of Teen Marriages by the Modern Church;
  • Marrying within One Religion: A Commitment or Common Sense?

Maybe, neither of the topics is a perfect match for what you believe you have to write about. Yet, we hope, one of them can show you the correct direction.

  • Formulating a thesis statement that is strong

It’s usually comprised of one or two sentences that are written for summarising the main claim of the subject you are presenting in your analytical work. These two sentences inform of the core idea about the essence of the written assignment. Don’t make your thesis statement broad: it should be as narrow as possible to fit the essay’s scope.

Say, your topic is The Coexistence of Evolution-Related Beliefs and Those of Religion. The relevant thesis statement will look as follows: Modern literature comprises various ideas provided by evolution and higher power believers. What is interesting, both sides provide compelling arguments.

  • Crafting a convincing introduction

Upon creating a successful thesis statement, you need to provide an equally successful introduction part. The aim of the latter is to capture readers’ attention. The capturing is typically ensured by the so-called hook technique. The hook is a quote or an interesting fact that opens up the introduction. The hook is normally followed by the background data on the analyzed subject.

‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg? That is one of the typical questions without an answer. So is the question of whether or not evolution took place. Numerous researchers say it did. Moreover, they can prove their beliefs. For example…

On the other hand, there are deeply religious people, who discard any scientific nonsense and have confidence in a higher power.’

  • Working on the informative body

There are three body paragraphs at least, remember? Each of the paragraphs has to open up with a topic sentence and present a new idea. By the end of the paragraph, you are supposed to analyze the idea/concept/argument by providing supporting evidence.

In case your analytical work has more than three arguments that must be discussed (and that is so possible with the religious studies), we suggest you not to be afraid to write over three paragraphs.

While providing evidence, learn to quote and paraphrase. Quotes are never changed. If you intend to add any, add a short one, or make it short by inserting only a small part of a long sentence. This way, you’ll escape plagiarism charges.

Pay very special attention to the form of quoting. It should meet the requirements of the writing style proposed by your supervisor. Generally, they choose between Chicago, MLA, APA, or Harvard. If you have problems with the correct form of quoting, don’t forget you can make use of special online tools that transform any sentence into a quote of the correct structure.

As for the paraphrasing, it is obvious that this technique should be used when you need to add a quote into the body but the quote is really huge. When paraphrasing, compress important details and omit unimportant ones.

  • Making a concluding part strong

What’s the purpose of the conclusion of your analytical essay in religious studies? It is supposed not just to sum up the written above but also remind about the main argument of the topic and restate the analysis. Do not forget to talk about the importance of this analysis and the topic on the whole.

  • Don’t forget to proofread

The process of editing and proofreading is so boring that most students skip it and then need to rewrite their essay (if the supervisor is understanding) or get a poor mark (if the supervisor is a tough critic).

Your work should not include any grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors as well as wrongly structured sentences or incorrect grammar tenses. The problem is that noticing own mistakes is unbelievably tough as well as being self-critical. You can read the essay out loud, use online grammar checking software, etc. But what we suggest is to ask one of your parents or an experienced friend to read the work and ask for reliable evaluation.

If the analytical essay is strong and engaging, check it for the plagiarised parts. You can do this with the support of free online software. But look for the tool that provides PDF reports in the end, so that you could provide proof of your honesty and reliability.

Don’t rush. Take your time. Write the first draft. And put it aside for a few days. Get back to it and reread it again: Is everything smooth and clear? Are all the ideas conveyed properly? Do you have anything new to add to your written assignment? Then, print out on clear and hand in your analytical essay.

Religious studies always offer rather controversial topics to write about. The process is usually very strenuous. Plus, it requires a lot of time even if a student had experience in researching and writing. What we suggest is understand the structure, learn the format requirements, take time to learn free samples, make more than one draft and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. In any case, mistakes are something that makes us research better, think deeper, write with fewer mistakes, and learn how to grab the attention of readers at the right moment and in the right place.

References:

  • Butler, S. (2018). Religious studies. AQA/A-Level, Philosophy of religion and ethics paper 1. London: Hodder Education.
  • George Derwent Thomson (1954). An essay on religion. London: Lawrence & Wishart.
  • Lane, C. (2001). Religious studies. London: Letts Educational.