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MSc Neuroscience

at The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London

Essay guidance notes

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The purpose of the essays is to train you to write about a subject in a clear and concise manner and in the context of current literature. You should cover the subject at a greater depth than was presented in the lectures and you should also refer to recently published reviews and papers. Please note that you must never paraphrase or change the essay title question.

Don’t forget to back-up your work frequently, saving it to the U:/drive as well as to a USB stick or other device. There is no excuse for not remembering to do this.


Essay Format

Before commencing your essay, read the question carefully and spend time trying to understand it and what information will be required to answer it.

The essay should begin with an introduction to the subject, in which you say how you will interpret the essay question and how your essay will provide an answer, and end with a conclusion and summary. The middle, or main, body of the text should critically review or discuss the subject using subtitles where necessary. It is here that the whole essay fails or succeeds. It often helps to keep asking yourself, “What is the point that I am trying to make?” or “What sort of evidence/argument do I need to support my statement".

Sentences should not be too long and should be linked to the sentences either side so that the sense flows. To achieve this, it helps to read sections out loud to get a feeling of how your writing flows. This also helps you with appropriate punctuation. When reading it through, try to imagine that you have never read it before (remember that the markers are in this position). Use a new paragraph to introduce a change of topic and consider using subheadings to inform the reader of the way in which the essay is organised. If you do use headings and subheadings, then use fonts consistently.

The essay should be typed, double-spaced and have a total count of 2000 words with a +/-10% leeway (i.e. essays can be from 1800 to 2200 words in length). The total word count includes references within the main body of the report (e.g. “Smith et al., 2015”), but excludes figure legends, and the bibliography/reference section at the end of the essay. Please note any numbers or text inside tables will be picked up by turnitin. The preferred fonts are Times New Roman and Arial (size 12). The use of colour should be restricted to figures and the essay should be spell-checked. Finally, don’t forget to read through it carefully before submitting your final version before the deadline and check that you have answered the question fully.


Figures (drawings/graphs)

Drawings/graphs should be used wherever necessary to improve clarity. These can either be created yourself or, if reproduced from the literature must be referenced. Make sure you write a clear figure legend which in general should allow the figure to stand on its own.



The essay should be properly referenced (usually 20 - 30 references) and statements describing controversial information must always be referenced. The bibliography (list of references) should use a recognised format, for example, that used by the Journal of Neuroscience. It is important that the format that is chosen is used consistently. It may help, and it will provide you with useful experience, if you use bibliographic software to organise and print your references, both in the text and in the bibliography at the end of your essay. A comparison of different software packages, including some web-based ones that are free, can be found on the College's IT Software page.



As part of your enrolment procedure, you were required to sign the College plagiarism statement. In submitting the coursework essay you are:

  • confirming that it is expressed in your own words and that direct quotations from published work, or unpublished work of others, including that of other students, is identified by being placed inside quotation marks with a full reference to the source.
  • consenting to the essay being stored electronically and copied for assessment purposes. These purposes will include use of a plagiarism detection service, such as Turnitin, in order to check the integrity of assessed work.
    Coursework submitted to Turnitin will be stored electronically in their database to be compared not only against live web pages, published text books but also against work submitted by other students from King’s and from other institutions using the service. Turnitin helps tutors and examiners identify the original source of material included in your work by searching a database of several billion web pages of reference material.

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