In a discursive piece you are expected to discuss a given topic and present an argument related to it.
Organising a discursive essay
There are two basic types of discursive essay. Firstly there are persuasive essays in which you can argue strongly either in favour of or against a given discussion.
Alternatively, there are argumentative essays where you look at a discussion topic in a balanced way.
Finding information for a discursive essay
There are many sources you can use to find information for your discursive essay. These include:
- relevant books from a library
- online sources
- magazines and newspapers
- television and video
- family members
When looking in the library, focus on the non-fiction and reference sections. When searching online, always think carefully about key words.
Make sure you consider the reliability of all your sources. It is important you keep a note of where all your information comes from. This will allow you to check it again later and to complete your bibliography and footnotes.
Folio of writing
Your folio will be submitted in April by your school or presenting centre. The folio must contain two pieces of original writing, one of which is broadly creative and one that is broadly discursive. Each piece will be marked out of 25, and the two marks will be averaged to provide a total of 25. This will be added to your marks for Close Reading and Critical Essay in the external exam in May to provide the mark that will decide your final award for Higher English.
There are two types of creative writing and three types of discursive to choose from:
- imaginative, in the form of prose, a drama script, or a set of poems
All your own work!
You will have to sign a declaration that your two pieces of writing are original, and not copied from any other source. It is very important that you comply with this rule. If you are found to have used material which is not original in your folio, your whole award in English is likely to be withheld.
It is advisable not to throw away your early drafts after you have completed the fair copies of your final version in case your teacher or school requires them at a later point.
In addition, you must keep a detailed record of all the sources consulted for your discursive writing. This should include titles and authors of books or newspaper articles, including page numbers; authors and addresses of web-pages consulted.
The SQA asks that your final submission should be typed, word-processed or neatly written on one side of the page only. They also specify the following forms of presentation:
- a simple, plain, standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial
- point size 12
- alignment left or justified
- margins 2cm all round
- line spacing at 1.5 or 2
- print colour black, except possibly for graphs, diagrams etc in a report
The minimum length for each piece is 650 words, and the maximum is 1300 words. If your pieces are shorter or longer than this, a penalty will be applied by the marker.
Because you have access to resources like spell-checkers and dictionaries when writing your folio, the examiners expect a high degree of technical accuracy in aspects such as spelling, punctuation and sentence structures. Errors will significantly affect your marks.