Writing discursive compositions (Secondary Level) (Part 5): Introduction of discursive essays (use of case studies)

By Patrick Tay

(To read part 4, please visit HERE.)

Having discussed the techniques of historical development and cause and effect, let’s take a look at writing the introduction using a case study or case studies. This is a more challenging technique since students are expected to not only have prior knowledge of the subject matter in the questions, but also possess specific, contemporary (preferably historical to a certain extent) understanding of current affairs to do well in their writings.

Students who wish to employ this technique should read newspapers and magazines diligently to obtain a firm and all-rounded grasp of global events and specific details of incidents such that they are able to elaborate properly on them in their introductions with the synchronized use of relevant case studies.

Consider the following discursive questions:

i. Is youth an advantage or disadvantage?

i. Discuss the causes and consequences of global warming.

ii. Are great leaders made or born?

iii. What can we do to lead healthy and fulfilling lives? Discuss.

iv. What do friends mean to you?

v. The ideal career

Once again, let’s consider how to write the introductory paragraph from two of the above:

ii. Are great leaders born or made?


“Many have argued that leaders are made. Nelson Mandela brought an end to apartheid in South Africa, which inadvertently brings to mind Martin Luther King Junior, who swept the crowds of thousands with his “I have a dream” speech. Both men were giants among men, and leaders in their own right – forged through years of fortitude and courage. On a more spiritual level, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa will undoubtedly surface in one’s mind as guardians of the nation and the underprivileged respectively. Once again, both rose to prominence through their altruistic nature and years of struggle within their domains of endeavours. Nevertheless, there are alternative voices that seek to argue that some leaders are born, of which names can be showcased but one must be mindful that doubts will most likely be cast upon these names, for it’s fairly uncommon for one to soar to great heights without at least undergoing a certain duration of trials and tribulations. Hence a certain amount of truth to the term “making” in the statement “Heroes in the making“. Nevertheless, despite the overwhelming odds of the argument, let’s explore both arguments.“

iv. What do friends mean to you?


“In contemporary times, friendships are often developed on social media, of which Facebook springs almost immediately to mind. By exploring the functions of Facebook and understanding how its intrinsic features work, it is not surprising to realize why Facebook is so alluring to many. Facebook’s features encompasses most aspects of what friends do when they actually meet up in person: exchanging updated information, pictures, videos and music, engaging in social exchanges, liking one another’s preferences and interests, getting to know one another better through in-depth analysis of interests etc. What’s more, Facebook makes such social exchanges more interesting by delivering them in real-time, thereby enabling users to react (converse, “like” something, write comments, provides updates etc) as promptly as they so desire. In a way, this is individualism at it best. And the great news? All these are directly accessible on desktops, laptops, tablets or mobile phones with just an internet connection – 24/7! Nevertheless, one still has to question oneself if this is what human friendship is truly all about. Are personal exchanges on social media a completely wholesome substitute for face-to-face meet-ups? “

In my next post, I will proceed to discuss the writing styles of discursive essays.

To continue to part 6, visit HERE.

The above post was published with the permission of English writing specialist Mr Patrick Tay. This first appeared on his BLOG.