Essay Scaffold for Module A: Comparative Study of Texts and Contexts –

So how do you integrate ideas, techniques and context into ONE essay?

It’s actually quite simple. In fact, I find that Module A is the easiest out of all the modules. So here, I’ll try and take you through the entire essay’s scaffold:


Your introduction should include the following (in about this order):

  • A direct address or reiteration of the essay question/statement
  • Outline of what each body paragraph is about
  • State your texts, noting their context
  • Comment about the universality of certain ideas AND the relationship between texts and contexts.

Body Paragraph 1-2

You can either write about your 2 texts in ONE paragraph or TWO paragraphs.

Example, 1 paragraph:

  • Topic Sentence: generally explain ONE IDEA/THEME that is seen in both texts AND link back to essay question.
  • Introduce Text 1: explain how IDEA/THEME is specifically explored in Text 1
  • Techniques: discuss techniques, which show that IDEA/THEME.
  • Introduce Text 2: explain how IDEA/THEME is specifically explored in Text 2
  • Techniques: discuss techniques, which show that IDEA/THEME.
  • Ending Topic Sentence:  reiterate how IDEA/THEME is explored differently in each text AND link back to essay question.

Example, 2 paragraphs:

  • Topic Sentence: generally explain ONE IDEA/THEME that is seen in both texts AND link back to essay question.
  • Introduce Text 1: explain how IDEA/THEME is specifically explored in Text 1
  • Techniques: discuss techniques, which show that IDEA/THEME.
  • Ending Topic Sentence:  reiterate how IDEA/THEME is explored in Text 1 AND link back to essay question.
  • Topic Sentence: generally explain ONE IDEA/THEME that is seen in both texts AND link back to essay question.
  • Introduce Text 2: explain how IDEA/THEME is specifically explored in Text 2
  • Techniques: discuss techniques, which show that IDEA/THEME.
  • Ending Topic Sentence:  reiterate how IDEA/THEME is explored in Text 2 AND link back to essay question.

So where does context fit in?

The answer is ANYWHERE you can see a link. However, you should talk about context as secondary to your main point. For example:

  • Reflecting the dominance of transnational corporations, Blade Runner portrays [ IDEA/THEME]…
  • This is highlighted through the use of [TECHNIQUE], which demonstrates the film noir style of the…

So as you can see, your MAIN point is talking about the idea or the technique. But then you tag on a big about how that relates to a particular contextual issue.

In terms of context, you should include social/cultural context (the composer’s world), personal context (the composer’s biography, if it is relevant), AND contextual styles (the form/style of texts in that time – e.g. film noir, sonnet, gothic fiction).


Try and make frequent links between the two texts:

  • Similarities between ideas, characters, techniques, plots?
  • Differences between ideas, characters, techniques, plots?

For example: Whereas Barrett Browning portrays love as a romantic ideal which surpasses the physical, Fitzgerald represents love as….

Or: Like the monster in Shelley’s Frankenstein, Roy Batty is…

Body Paragraph 3-X

The rest of your paragraphs are structured the same way.

Essentially, you should have TWO ideas to talk about. So, you either have 2 body paragraphs (if you are talking about both texts in ONE paragraph) or 4 body paragraphs (if you are talking about each text in a separate paragraph).


Your conclusion is basically your introduction rewritten with a more conclusive tone.

For example, you might start with: In conclusion, Thus, Therefore, Evidently, As both texts…

And THAT is how easily the Module A essay is constructed.

Please comment if you have any questions. 🙂

Also able to meet at the CBD.

43 comments for “Essay Scaffold for Module A: Comparative Study of Texts and Contexts –

  1. Qwerty
    May 25, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    How do you write sophisticated/ improve?
    Do you have to have a thesis for a new paragraph?
    and the context has to be at the beginning of the paragraph? or can it be introduced later in the paragraph? Or is just at the beginning, and what happens if you start repeating yourself? Meaning two different events of the same text represent the same idea. How would you combine it?

    This is a great site 😀

    • tutortales
      May 25, 2010 at 6:47 pm

      Do you mean your level of language? Use ShiftF7 – thesaurus. That’s how I increased my level of language. Also read other people’s essays (check out BOS) and study guides/articles. Sometimes they talk about things that you already know, but they articulate it in a better way.
      Your thesis is your essay’s entire argument, so it goes in the introduction. What you need for each new paragraph is a topic sentence, which explains the IDEA of that paragraph.
      The context can be anywhere in the paragraph – whenever you see a link from an idea/technique to a contextual issue.
      I’m not sure what you mean by 2 events in 1 text showing 1 idea…but is it necessary to talk about both events? Can you just talk about one? Otherwise, talk about one, then say “This is furthermore demonstrated/affirmed when….”


      • Qwerty
        May 26, 2010 at 11:46 pm

        Thank you! 🙂 What I mean is say the text has an idea that is represented twice so instead of saying

        Idea one shows the change of a personal life.
        Idea two show the change of a personal life too.

        How would you combine them together so you don’t end up repeating yourself?
        Also with essays is there a right or wrong answer? Like when you analysise the text ?

        You are great help o:-)

        • tutortales
          May 28, 2010 at 8:02 am

          Sorry, I’m still confused about what you’re trying to do. Maybe if you give me an example. So it’s the SAME text with SAME idea (but shown in 2 parts/scenes etc)?

          There isn’t really a right/wrong answer. It depends how well you argue it. But of course you do have to keep in mind the plethora of analytical material out there and that tons of students are also writing about the same texts. So you can’t exactly be too “out there” with your ideas, lol.


      • Qwerty
        June 2, 2010 at 10:25 pm

        yep that’s it!
        thank you so much!

        • tutortales
          June 3, 2010 at 8:46 am

          Ah ok, well you don’t have to restate it. You can just say “This is furthermore conveyed through the scene…” But you should consider whether you actually need the 2nd scene to support the same idea. You should add the 2nd scene, if it somehow elaborates/particularises the idea in some way.


  2. Tony
    May 29, 2010 at 11:35 am

    your template is great for any comparative studies
    however where do we put in the ‘composer’s perspective/message’ in which part of the essay??

    • tutortales
      May 29, 2010 at 8:56 pm

      Thanks. You can put the composer’s message either in the introduction or in the beginning of the paragraphs. It really depends on where you think it fits. For example, you can use it in your introduction as in “Reflecting Romanticist views, Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is a cautionary tale against the…”. Or in the paragraph, after the topic sentence, you have “This is demonstrated in Shelly’s Frankenstein, which cautions readers against…”


  3. Kym
    May 30, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    For the topic sentences used when writing about two texts in two paragraphs, how do I make them seem less repetitive?

    • tutortales
      June 2, 2010 at 12:07 pm

      You can paraphrase the topic sentences, or use linking words, so that rather than saying the same thing twice, you are drawing a link about how they are different/similar.


  4. Qwerty
    June 4, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Just another question how do you link?
    Where do you link it??
    I’m doing the 4 paragraphs excluding intro and conclusion.
    Example 1 is in paragraph 1 and 2
    so how do I link it or have I linked it already?
    What I’ve written in both paragraph 1 and 2 are the context, techniques and the example it. Is that linking it?

  5. Kevin
    June 14, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Hey i am planning comparative essay, i understand most of your scaffold butt the topic sentence i don’t understand.

    will the topic sentence be something like
    “Women living in a patriarchal society were repressing by the domineering male society which as a result left them with little independence and portrayal as a mere possession throughout their lives. Where as women in the 1970s began retaining rights and freedom to strive for their desired ambitions due to the Feminist movements”

    then later i support the two ideas through techniques? or is this topic sentence wrong?

    I’m doing pride and prejudice and letters to Alice.

    If you are able to give me an example of a topic sentence then it will help me understand. =]

    • tutortales
      June 14, 2010 at 7:43 pm

      Hey Kevin,

      I haven’t tutored P&P or LTA, but I’ll try and help. The topic sentence should be explaining the IDEA of the paragraph. The sentences you’ve written are more to do with context, rather than idea. For example, the idea may be about the status and experiences of women in society.

      An example topic sentence would be, say for Frankenstein and Bladerunner: “Humanity’s obsession with controlling nature, life and death inevitably becomes a self destructive pursuit, which leads to the physical and psychological destruction of both the individual and their society. Criticising the rationalism of the Age of Englightenment, Shelly’s Frankenstein…”


  6. Anon
    July 19, 2010 at 11:53 am

    When i talk about the ‘valuing’ for both texts, is it ok to argue for the same values throughout the whole essay?


    Do i have to talk about different values for each idea/text?

    • tutortales
      July 19, 2010 at 12:53 pm

      If you’re talking about the same values – then it may be better to refer to them as “ideas” which have prevailed over time or are universal. We often tend to refer to values as being different, in that the values are contextual factors which are specific to the time. For example, societal/religious values in the Victorian era would be very different to the values in modern day society.


  7. teebee
    August 11, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    for this module we’re doing w;t and donne’s poetry. but im finding it confusing in that, im not sure if i should be using only one poem per idea. a lot of the ideas he explores are present in multiple of his poems. would it be ok to analyse in detail the presence of an idea in one poem and sort of flippantly reference another that also contains that idea?
    also most questions ask for a discussion on specified themes. do you have any advice about how to write an essay which can apply to most themes. for instance one question could list suffering and identity, where another question could say life, death and eternal life.

    • tutortales
      August 20, 2010 at 1:08 pm

      Yes, that would be the approach I would take – deal with 1 key poem for each idea, whilst making brief links to the other poems if necessary.

      I haven’t tutored your texts yet, but regarding writing an essay for most themes – I would suggest having an essay with say 3-4 interchangeable themes. Then depending on the exam question, only write about 2. You should be able to identify the main themes which will be asked from past HSC and trial papers.


  8. Patte
    September 28, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Hi, I have a question about synthesis throughout the entire essay, because my school is giving me mixed signals. I got 19/20 for one essay with no synthesis, and then 14/20 for another essay set out exactly the same, where the marker’s comments were that I can’t get good marks if I don’t synthesise!
    So I was thinking of changing my essay from the 4 body paragraph structure to the 2 body paragraph one to make synthesising a little easier. Only problem is, the paragraphs are almost 2 pages each and I know that markers hate massive paragraphs.
    What do I do!?
    Sorry for the long q 🙂

    • tutortales
      September 28, 2010 at 2:00 pm

      Hi Patte – the mark difference is probably for reasons other than the synthesised structure. But yeah, generally a synthesised essay is better. This does not necessarily mean you have to put both texts into one paragraph (particularly if as you say, it seems far too long). Synthesising an essay can be done by just including links in each paragraph to the other text – brief comparing and contrasting links, with topic sentences that refer to both texts.


      • Patte
        September 28, 2010 at 3:59 pm

        Thanks, that really helps, but I’m just unsure about how to put comparing and contrasting links in certain paragraphs. For example, I’m doing Donne and Wit, so if I was to write about Donne in my first paragraph, and Wit in the second, should I be putting comparing links in the first paragraph? I remember my teacher saying something about how I can’t compare the texts if I haven’t written any info about the second text yet, but then if that doesn’t happen till the second paragraph, do I have to limit all my comparisons into the second paragraph?

        • tutortales
          September 29, 2010 at 2:57 pm

          Yes, just to be clear, it would be better to only make links in the 2nd paragraph – rather than making links in the 1st paragraph where the marker won’t understand/follow what you are comparing.


  9. jacky
    October 3, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    will it be ok if i separate text 1 and 2 into 2 diff paragraphs and compare them like that?!

    • tutortales
      October 4, 2010 at 9:28 am

      Sure – if you compare them in 1 paragraph, it’ll probably be too long. TT

  10. Rose
    October 4, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Hi, I’ve noticed that most questions ask to compare context, and to relate this to textual similarities/differences. Do you think then that I could easily mould the following line of argument to any question? Is it convincing enough? Anything missing?

    “Since both contexts involved humanist exploration and rapid progress, both texts explore ideas of human identity and consequences of creation. But since from different times and of different mediums, they explore such ideas through different techniques (written vs visual). Even so, the fact that despite time difference, they address similar ideas, reveals enduring human concerns, and thus their fundamental similarities are more significant than artistic differences.”

    I explore these 2 ideas with your “2 paragraph per idea” method. Do you think that, provided my textual examples backed these up, this thesis would be complete enough for a 17+/20?


    • tutortales
      October 5, 2010 at 1:10 pm

      Hi Rose, it really depends on what the question is asking for. From your thesis, it seems your 2 ideas are “human identity” and “consequences of creation” – but the essay question may specify other ideas that it wants you to discuss.

      In terms of your thesis, the “fundamental similarities…” ending is good and you address the context etc – but the sentences could be written better (there’s grammatical errors in the last sentence).


  11. Rose
    October 5, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks TT, much appreciated! I chose those two ideas because they seem easy to mould to other ideas. e.g. if q asks about texts’ challenges to norm/nature I could say they present ideas of “natural” human identity against the consequences of subverting this “human nature” through creation. Or would that seem too contrived?

    I’m thinking of citing context only in each of my topic sentences, eg. “Scott reflects his own context’s humanist investigations, which included genetic engineering, through the scene where…” and then analyse that scene’s techniques.

    OR do you think it better to include fleeting references to context after each technique, eg. “this technique reflects genetic engineering…this technique reflects blah blah…”

    Thanks again!

    • tutortales
      October 8, 2010 at 12:26 pm

      No, that doesn’t seem contrived. You should go beyond citing reference ONLY in the topic sentences. Fleeting references aren’t necessary after EVERY technique, but you should link to context wherever possible – and that link must be purposeful, rather than repetitive. I mean, you wouldn’t just keep repeating “reflects GE”, because there’s a lot more of context which needs to be mentioned and linked.


      • Rose
        October 9, 2010 at 6:48 pm

        Thanks again, you’re a great help 🙂

  12. Jake
    August 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Hey thanks for the advice first of all its great!

    The question I was given was, ‘In comparing Blade Runner and Frankenstein it is clear that there are vast differences in the expression of a loss of human emotion. Evaluate this statement’

    Just wondering how specific I should be in my topic sentences. For example my first body paragraph has the topic sentence, ‘Both texts converge in representing a loss of moral compassion in Victor Frankenstein and Deckard in order to challenge the ideals of both societies.’

    Is that too broad? Too specific?

    Thanks a million!

    • tutortales
      August 11, 2011 at 8:30 pm

      Hi Jake, that topic sentence sounds great – it is broad enough to introduce your idea, but it also specifically addresses your essay question. TT

  13. Jake
    August 23, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    no worries thanks heaps!

  14. Nana
    September 11, 2011 at 1:17 am

    Hi, thanks for the helpful scaldfold first of all.
    I’m just wondering: do we need to talk about textual elements e.g. Setting, plot, characterisation etc.? Because we’re doing Transformation on the comparative study of Shakespeare’s original Much Ado About Nothing and BBC’s Shakespeare Retold of Much Ado, and my teacher marked my work 15/20 because I only did 2 themes and didn’t include any textual elements. But doesn’t writing paragraphs on textual elements mean breaking your points?

    I’m very confused.

    • Nana
      September 11, 2011 at 1:18 am


    • tutortales
      September 11, 2011 at 9:39 pm

      HI Nana – you probably don’t need to talk about textual elements as any separate paragraph, but it is probably important to incorporate some comparison of those elements in your theme paragraphs. Differences in setting, plot, characterisation etc may demonstrate differences in themes/values. TT

  15. Christine
    October 3, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Just wondering if you think I’m answering the question here:

    “Fundamental to any study of connections between texts is the question of what it means to be human. Do you agree?”

    I thought it was really broad and … philosophical.

    Here’s my introduction. I didn’t really know how to kick off the essay.

    Although different composer’s perception and experience is influenced by their social context, they are connected through their examination of transcending questions relevant to humanity. While TEXT 1 reflects the value system of Patriarchal society, TEXT 2 reflects that of Postmodern society. Despite the texts spanning more than a century apart, they both explore fundamental human concerns and experiences, namely tensions the arise between autonomy and social expectations.

    My topic sentences were:

    1st paragraph) Both composers comment on their respective times by exploring conflict between the human need to form identity and conformity to constructed social roles.

    2nd paragraph) In the early 20th Century, feminist movement against male-dominated society has somewhat released women from the mother and wife stereotype, allowing the modern woman today to create a new identity through other means. However, while too little freedom stifles individuality too much freedom can complicate the process of identity formation. (NB. In this one, my actual topic statement was the second sentence, but I felt I needed to introduce the idea somehow.)

    3rd paragraph) While highlighting tensions between social expectations and identity formation both texts, although in different ways, attempt to offer moral guidance humans seek.

    4th paragraph) Similarly, TEXT 2 offers guidance through attention to literature and criticism of popular culture.

    Um .. was I successful?

  16. .
    October 18, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Thanks for this website!

  17. Chiara
    July 15, 2012 at 12:37 am

    I just want to thank you so much for your kindness and generosity of sharing to those who do not have the privilege of having a tutor, I am so grateful, thank you so much once again.

  18. Iniya
    October 26, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Hey Tutortales

    Thanks for this helpful post. Could you please explain what the scaffolds such as evaluate, Justify, discuss etc mean in english? What should the answer format be? Thanks in advance.

  19. February 24, 2015 at 10:22 pm


    In the article you have mentioned that context is secondary in Module A. I thought that is the most important thing! In my comparative essay, I have included alot of contextual references. Is that a problem?

    My texts (James Joyce Dubliners and Seamus Heaney) esp Jmaes Joyce- I find that findign meaningful quotes is really diffcult. What is the ideal number of quotes per para?

    • admin
      May 18, 2015 at 6:06 pm

      Mathushah, sorry for the late reply – I don’t check comments often these days. Context is secondary, because ultimately you need to be writing an English essay, not a history one. So contextual references are great, but they should be exactly that – references – and not exposition of historical events/ideas. It should always be related back to the text on hand.

      In terms of quotes, there isn’t really a set number, but I would estimate at least 4-5 quotes is good.


  20. Miranda
    July 28, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    This is great have you done scaffolds like this for the other modules?

  21. Diya
    February 20, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    Hey I’m doing James Joyce’s Dubliners and Seamus Heaney’s poetry and I’m struggling with linking two different short stories in one paragraph for the one text. How would I structure it? Because I’m doing it on Paralysis and desire for escape in the one paragraph. so do I do Paralysis for both stories and then desire for escape or some other way? Can you please give me an example of how I link two different stories in the one paragraph for the one text? thanks!

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