What is an academic essay?
You've written essays at school, and sometimes you may have had to write a so-called persuasive essay. But an academic university essay is something different.
As you may have noticed, it involves an argument –-- using the word in a special sense. A university essay usually sets out a “thesis”, which it then proves at length. It's a tradition that comes down from the 13th century, when aspiring undergraduates in Oxford and Cambridge would compete with each other to argue such topics as whether Adam had a navel, or whether every angel heard what one angel says to another angel. Although we are now, thankfully, well into the age of science rather than of superstition, writing an essay with a convincing argument remains the way of getting on in higher education and the professions.