What are thesis statements and why are they important?

This is the first of three lessons about Thesis Statements. To complete this course, read each lesson carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.   

– Introduce the concept of introductory thesis statement

– Outline four reasons to include an effective thesis statement

– Provide examples to help guide and inform the reader

Lesson 1

Students are normally introduced to the concept of thesis statements very early on in their academic careers, yet this feature of an introductory paragraph may still cause difficulties for learners even in the final year of their bachelor’s degree. However, because an effective thesis statement may be fairly formulaic in nature, this aspect of essay writing should – with the right guidance – be fairly straight-forward to master. The following three lessons deal first with recognising the structure and importance of thesis statements, then with understanding and using the elements of an effective thesis statement, and finally with the concepts and advice that make for strong and well-written theses every time.


What is a thesis statement?

While there may be some variation in answering this question, the general response is that a thesis statement is a one-sentence explanation of an essay’s purpose and its key arguments that’s usually found at the end of the introductory paragraph. Below are two example thesis statements to help you in recognising them, which we’ll be returning to throughout these three lessons for guidance:

Thesis Statements 1.1 Example A
Thesis Statements 1.2 Example B

What is the purpose of a thesis statement?

A thesis statement is an integral part of an essay that allows the writer to communicate to the reader the following aspects in a clear and concise way:


1. Introduce the assignment question.

Whether the essay question was assigned by a tutor or was the unique creation of the student, the question being answered should always be clearly delivered in a thesis statement. For example, the following two essay questions can be determined from our previous example thesis statements:

Thesis Statements 1.3 Assignment Question A
Thesis Statements 1.4 Assignment Question B

2. Indicate how the question is being interpreted.

By using task language such as ‘discuss’, ‘describe’, ‘compare and contrast’ or ‘evaluate’, the writer can prepare the reader for type of essay that’s been written.


3. Make a claim.

This is particularly necessary for persuasive essays that require stance. A good thesis statement should form a refutable opinion of the topic and try to convince the reader of that opinion through clear arguments and evidence. In our two example thesis statements, we can see the following claims which the reader may or may not agree with (depending on the strength of the writer’s argument):

Thesis Statements 1.5 Claim A
Thesis Statements 1.6 Claim B

4. Introduce the essay structure.

Normally, an essay will contain a brief outline (or roadmap) of the key arguments, most often in the same order as they appear in the body section. The outline will normally be a concise, clear and specific sentence, and may or may not appear within the same sentence as the thesis statement. In our two example theses, we can see the following structure and arguments for a five-paragraph essay:

Thesis Statements 1.7 Outline A
Thesis Statements 1.8 Outline B

One final aspect to be discussed at this point is whether the essay topic has been assigned to you by your tutor or whether you have to create an essay focus yourself. Generally, for bachelor’s-level essays, the student will be assigned the essay question by their tutor. However, for master’s-level dissertations or PhD-level theses, a student will likely be required to think of the topic for themself, which will become the basis of their thesis statement. While the following two lessons focus more closely on the creation of thesis statements at the bachelor’s level with assigned topics, postgraduate students may still find this information useful.

1 of 3 Lessons Completed


Once you’ve completed all three lessons about thesis statements, you might also wish to download our beginner, intermediate and advanced worksheets to test your progress or print for your students. These professional PDF worksheets can be easily accessed for only a few Academic Marks.

Our thesis statements guidance sheet (including all three lessons about this topic) can be accessed here at the click of a button.

Gain unlimited access to our thesis statements beginner worksheet, with activities and answer keys designed to check a basic understanding of this topic’s lessons.

To check a confident understanding of this topic’s lessons, click on the button below to download our thesis statements intermediate worksheet with activities and answer keys.

Our thesis statements advanced worksheet with activities and answer keys has been created to check a sophisticated understanding of this topic’s lessons. 

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