The English section lays much emphasis on the writing of essays. The skill is practised on set topics throughout the first year in EC. In ILA you have a little more choice since you write on the literary texts studied in your group. During your second year, you must complete another essay in the context of each of the explication de textes seminars that you attend, plus a group essay in English linguistics.
Paper copies of 'The English Department Guide to Essay-writing' (EDGE) will be sold in the EC class (price 2 CHF); it can also be downloaded (in pdf) from the section's website. You should consult it at every stage of the writing process throughout your time in the English section. The remarks that follow address a few of the basic principles - see EDGE for more details.
Essays must be typed. It is to your advantage to use a computer for writing; it makes revision so easy. Follow EDGE for questions of layout and form (quotations, references, bibliography, etc.).
First-year essays may be only 2-6 pages long; second-year essays are expected to be 5-to-10 pages, and third-year essays 8-to-12 pages.
Writing is a medium for thinking creatively, not just for committing ideas to paper. Draft an outline before you start, formulating your ideas and establishing the connections between the steps of your argument. To achieve a structured essay, study chapter 2 of EDGE and be prepared to rewrite whole paragraphs as your ideas develop. Discard anything that is not relevant to your topic.
Writing an essay is an opportunity to develop your critical vocabulary, using the terms you have encountered in literature courses. Pay close attention to the words you write; check them frequently in an English-English dictionary. Beware of literary terms (like tragic and dramatic) that are used very loosely in everyday speech. When you know what a myth is, would you try to go to une salle de concert mythique?
Working with staff
Consult with your teacher about your choice of text(s), focus and topic before you start to write. You will find it helpful to discuss them with him or her both during and after writing.
An unsatisfactory essay must be rewritten. It is normal to rethink, revise, and rewrite; the process of rewriting is an important learning experience.
Identify all information or ideas that you borrow. Use your own words whenever possible, rather than long quotations. At the end of your essay, append a bibliography listing your primary text(s) and all the articles and books you read or consulted (secondary sources) while preparing and writing your essay.
Every essay must be written while you are following the module it arises from. To gain the associated credit, it must be acceptable and accepted before the course ends. Teachers will specify the deadline for handing in essays in each course, allowing themselves time to read the work and you the time to revise it (if required). Generally speaking, the deadline will be at least one month before the end of the semester. (Individual teachers may shift this deadline as a function of their availability.)
Write your name, address, and email address at the top of the first page of your essay, and clearly identify the module that it relates to.
If for any reason you need to have your work returned to you by post, provide a suitably large, stamped, self-addressed envelope when you hand your essay in.