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Final assignment I: Scientific essay


During this assignment, students have to write a ‘scientific essay’ in which they can prove their acquired knowledge and understanding in the field of gerontology substantiated with scientific literature. At the same time, students can practice and show their ability to write an English text in high-level formulations. The students should formulate their personal view and give a well-reasoned opinion on a subject in gerontology substantiated with scientific literature, in a maximum of 2500-5000 words. An essay can be seen as a well-argued view on a certain debate or discussion. An essay should thus be around a debate or a question that as of yet has no clear answer or of which the answer is contentious. It should contain a considerate and convincing argument and the student should formulate a convincing, considerate own position in the debate or in respect to the question outlined.
The students will learn to decide a point they want to make and put it into a text that is clearly written. The students will be assessed for their ability to:

  • Think creatively, reason lucidly and express ideas with clarity

  • Define complex problems and establish the objectives of any document

  • Assess their ideas and recognise their relative importance

  • Structure their reasoning into a coherent and transparent argument

  • Analyse their argument to confirm its effectiveness

The learning targets are:

  • The student is able to collect, study, interpret, and critically assess scientific literature, in particular in the area of gerontology.

  • The student can judge – on the basis of scientific logic – the arguments made in a scientific work and can integrate evidence on the basis of which he or she can formulate and develop their own scientific thinking and argumentation.

  • The student is able to weigh the pro- and counter-arguments and can relate, compare and integrate perspectives from diverse disciplines and perspectives including societal, gerontological, philosophical and ethical views.

  • The student can take their own logical stance based on scientific evidence and is able to come to and argue for new insights or novel ideas on the basis of the integration of the available evidence.

  • The student is familiar with recent findings in the area of gerontology and has insight into the importance, applicability and limitations of these recent findings by which he or she is able to develop their own argumentation.

  • The student has knowledge of principles of scientific writing and is able to exploit this knowledge in writing an argumentative paper on the basis of the assessment of scientific evidence.

The format of the scientific essay should be: – Introduction including main debate or questions addressed and the reader is invited to read the essay. – Core text in which the main argument is outlined and structured. It should contain a review of relevant (scientific) literature for the debate/question addressed in the essay (e.g. current debates, viewpoints, arguments and contra-arguments) and the author’s own position in this debate. – Conclusion in which a summary is made from the aforementioned and in which a strong view, opinion or possible prospect is given. – Reference list in which the literature is consistently referred to.

The following points will be used in judging the essays:
a. Shape and layout (consistency)
b. Structure of the essay (logic and clear)
c. Outline of the debate/discussion/issue (relevance, logic, clear and convincing)
d. Argumentation (consistency, clear, convincing)
e. Originality (own ideas)
f. Depth of argument (reference to scientific articles and embedding in scientific debates, logical follow-up of relations and arguments)
g. Discussion (presentation of own stance, clarity and logic)
h. Conclusion (logical, originality and clarity)
i. Complete references and reference list (consistency and clarity)
j. Language and spelling (consistency and clarity)


  • During the course ‘academic writing’ a student will submit a proposal for an essay topic with a motivation containing the relevance of and interest in the topic chosen (handing in the fourth week, 25th of October to coordinators and lecturer).

  • The student is appointed one of the core faculty members as a tutor for the essay (in the week after the topic motivation) based on the topic chosen.

  • After being appointed a tutor the student hands in a more elaborate structure plan of the essay containing an outline with keywords or key argumentation lines (on the 14th of November). In agreement with the tutor a deadline is set for the draft version (on the 28th of November). The tutor will discuss the outline with the student and gives approval for writing (after possible revisions).

  • A student can ask for an additional tutor for reasons of scientific relevance, e.g. another faculty member or external expert is more familiar with the topic chosen. This person then acts as a second tutor following the procedures as set out in the regulations for the tutor.

  • A student can request consultation in the following weeks in which the student writes the essay. The consultations normally take place on Wednesday afternoons in agreement with the tutor.

  • The student will hand in the essay after the first trimester break on the 1st of January 2016.

  • The tutor reviews the essay and another core faculty member will do an independent review of the work. If a second tutor is involved, this second tutor will also review the work.

  • The tutor(s) and second core faculty member will grade the essay, and will motivate their opinion. If grades differ significantly (more than 0.5 point) then a meeting of the members will take place to discuss. If the tutors can not reach an agreement the Board of Examiners is called upon to seek a solution.

  • Note that in case a tutor can not fulfil his/her tasks a replacement tutor must be found among the core academic faculty members. This replacement tutor is found in agreement with the involved student and other faculty members.

Review form
Please consult the study guide and the blackboard for the detailed review form.

Dr. D. van Bodegom
Dr. J. Lindenberg
Dr. L. van Delden

25 October Proposal for topic
13 November Outline of essay
27 November Draft version
1 January Handing in