Argument Essay Assignment

Assignment Description

For this essay, you should choose a topic from the list of opposing viewpoints provided in this unit and write a 4-5 page essay that argues a clearly defined position about that topic. The essay should have an introduction that has a clear thesis statement and demonstrates the relevance of your topic, several body paragraphs that each make focused claims, and a conclusion.

Due Dates

Refer to the assignment calendar for due dates for this assignment.

Remember, the grade for the peer review is separate from the grade for the essay. See the guidelines for peer review for instructions about completing the peer review process.

Purpose and Learning Objectives

Your purpose in writing this essay is to defend a particular point of view with good reasoning and research.

My purpose in assigning this essay is to develop your skills in synthesizing research, evidence, and claims into a well-reasoned argumentative essay. You should develop a clear and concise thesis statement that prepares readers for the arguments in the essay. Be sure to especially work on paragraph development: each paragraph should include a topic sentence, evidence, and commentary about the evidence.

Minimum Requirements

  • 1,200-1,500 word essay (4-5 pages)
  • An interesting and informative title
  • A document formatted in correct MLA format
  • 5 sources (peer-reviewed journals, books, and reliable web sources)
  • A works cited page written in correct MLA format and included in the same document as the essay
  • A clearly stated argument that uses reliable and well-reasoned evidence to support claims
  • A refutation of opposing arguments

Process for Completion

Here are a few steps that might help you develop your essay:

  1. Choose your topic from the ones provided for this unit (see below).
  2. Once you’ve found a topic, determine if it needs to be narrowed or if a particular focus might help the argument.
    1. For instance, if you were writing about obesity, you might need to find a slant that creates a more interesting argument than “obesity is a problem” (of course it’s a problem!). Narrowing helps a bit, but not enough: “to avoid obesity, Americans should exercise more” (of course Americans should exercise more!). But what if we narrow the topic further: “schools in Texas need to ban unhealthy foods from the lunch menu and eliminate vending machines with unhealthy snacks and sodas.” This sentence establishes a more focused and nuanced argument than the earlier topic of obesity. To create a more interesting topic, you might then move to question who is responsible for obesity. Is it individuals, corporations, cultural norms, the government, or some other entity? What can we do to change the culture in the United States so that obesity is not so prevalent? The more focused and nuanced the topic, the better the paper usually is. Starting with the topics from the list below, try to find a focused topic for your essay.
  3. After narrowing your topic, you should make a list of everything you know about the topic and everything you want to know. This list will guide your research.
  4. Now, you’re ready to start researching. Be sure to only include reliable sources in your research and to take careful notes to avoid accidentally plagiarizing your sources later. As you research, remember that plagiarism is still a serious offense even if you just forget to cite a source. Always keep notes of where you get information and be prepared to cite the information correctly.
  5. Be sure to allow a few days to draft your essay. You want to be sure you don’t forget any of the wonderful arguments you developed during the invention and research phases. You may also want to outline the major points of the essay before drafting.
  6. Always allow several days to revise the essay. You will get comments during peer review, and you should consider those comments carefully.
  7. Finally, be sure to edit your essay for mistakes in grammar, punctuation, and proofreading.


Plagiarism is using someone else’s words or ideas without giving credit and is a serious academic offense. It can range from:

• Turning in a paper any part of which you did not write,
• Cutting and pasting a paper together from various sources without attributing the sources correctly,
• Changing a few words but basically keeping most of the words and sentence structure of the original,
• Using the ideas of another without giving credit to the person who originally had the idea.
• Using the exact words of the source without using quotation marks even if you give the name of the source.

Refer to the syllabus for consequences of plagiarism in this class. For more information, see

Potential Topics

U.S. Borders (Emigration & Immigration)

Cuba & Immigration

Children of illegal immigrant

Social Justice

Civil Rights

Popular Culture

Culture of Beauty

Celebrity Culture

Renewable Energy

Animal Experimentation

Technology & Education



Criminal Justice

Millennial Generation

Genetically Modified Foods

Grading and Rubric

Your instructor will use the following general criteria to grade your essay. Please ask your instructor about a rubric.

First, does the essay contain a clear argument? Arguments have opposing sides, which means at least some portion of your readership should disagree with your viewpoint. If your claim is fairly obvious (“obesity is a problem,” for instance), then you have not met the primary purpose of this assignment, which is to take a side on an issue.

Second, does the thesis statement present your argument in one clear and concise sentence? The thesis statement is the most important sentence of your essay, so take time to revise it (sometimes multiple times) before submitting the essay. The thesis should present your main argument as well as provide a brief overview of the major claims in the essay. After reading the thesis, the reader should have a good sense of where the essay is going.

Third, are the paragraphs organized, focused, and developed? The paragraphs should be organized logically and should each present one focused claim. That claim should be stated in the first sentence, called a topic sentence, which should then be followed by evidence to support the claim. Then, you should provide commentary on the evidence (show why the evidence leads you to your claim) so that the reader always understands how to interpret the evidence as you do.

Fourth, is evidence from outside sources integrated seamlessly into the essay? Be sure to quote, paraphrase, and summarize accurately and to integrate all of the evidence into your own sentences. See the lessons in unit 4 and 5 about integrating sources.

Submission Protocol