How to choose a topic for your first coursework ever

How to choose a topic for your first coursework

In the life of every student, there comes a time when he or she must write their first coursework or essay. The task is almost guaranteed to be daunting. For example “how to write a cause and effect essay“. But don’t panic. Writing a coursework is not really that different from writing a regular school essay.

In fact, this is what coursework IS most of the time – an extended essay. However, it can also be a research paper, a report, a case study, or any other type of writing assignment. Whatever it is, it always starts from one essential step: choosing a topic.

And this is where the problems begin. Thousands of students turn to the Internet to find out how to choose a good research topic. They want to know the criteria for selecting one and the factors to consider. If you’re here, you’ve probably asked Google all those questions, too.

To help you and your peers cope with it, we’ve put together this article that explains how to choose a topic for your first coursework step-by-step.

What is a coursework, after all?

If you’ve never written coursework before, you probably don’t even understand what it is. Before getting to writing, it’s essential that you understand what it is you’re supposed to do.

So, let’s define the term first. As we’ve already mentioned, coursework is basically an academic paper – an essay, a research paper, or any other type, depending on the specific subject.

But what makes a coursework paper different from your regular midterm essay is the fact that it is supposed to summarize the knowledge students have attained during a certain part of the course. What’s also important to know is that the grade you get for this paper seriously affects the final grade in the course. It’s not an assignment to be treated lightly.

Why choose a topic for research?

Many first-year students expect their coursework topics to be assigned to them by the teacher. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for teachers to do so. But there also are other options.

Basically, there are three main approaches towards the choice of the coursework topic:

  • it is assigned by the instructor;
  • the instructor provides a list of possible topics for students to choose from;
  • students are encouraged to choose something all by themselves.

In the latter case, the choice process is usually the most difficult. Luckily, you can always find a professional paper writer online to help you out. Such writers know exactly how a good essay should look like, and they can easily guide you throughout the whole process.

But if you feel like you can cope on your own, here’s some advice to get you started. Here’s precisely what you need to do to choose a perfect topic.

Make it relevant

If you wonder what the first step in choosing a good theme should be like, here’s a tip: start from understanding your subject. This may seem funny, but you’d be surprised how many students don’t actually know what they are supposed to write about! Hence the irrelevant topics they pick.

The best advice here is to attend your lectures, read textbooks, and make notes so that you’ll know exactly what you’re studying during every specific course. Then, you’ll most likely already have some ideas by the time you’ll be asked to write your first serious paper.

But even if you won’t, the notes you’ve made during the lectures will help you with the task. This way, you’ll at least be sure you’ve picked something relevant to the course.

Consider your interests

The best way to write an impressive paper is to write about something that interests you personally. So, if there was something during the course that really got your attention – go ahead and research it!

However, remember that you have to stay relevant. For instance, you just can’t write about the best American novelists if the course is about English literature, or discuss polar bears and climate change within the confines of the economic geography course, and so on.

Still, it doesn’t mean you should drop such topics altogether. It’s much better to write them down and save them for later, when they may eventually become relevant.

Do your preliminary research

However good a topic may seem, don’t make the final choice until you do preliminary research. This step is necessary in order to avoid possible problems with developing your theme and finding the right sources, so don’t ever skip it.

Strictly speaking, any theme can be researched. But as a novice, you’d better stick to the ones that are the least difficult. An abundance of materials available is your guarantee that you won’t have a hard time finding the evidence to support your arguments and any other data that you may need.

Narrow your theme

Finally, remember to not pick a theme that’s too broad. Broad topics are made for books, not essays and research papers, so mind the volume. It’s much better to take one aspect of a broader theme and study it thoroughly than take an all-encompassing theme and fail to acknowledge it.

There are plenty of ways to narrow down a topic. For instance, you can do it by asking yourself certain questions like:

  • Who?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why?
  • How?

If you have problems with making your theme more specific, there are lots of guides on the Internet on how to do it. However, be careful not to overdo it. You may have problems with meeting the required word count if you make your topic too narrow.


Writing your first coursework may seem intimidating – that’s only natural. But the truth is, this assignment can be interesting and engaging – you just need to pick the right topic. Follow the four steps listed to make coming up with it a breeze, and if you still feel unsure – don’t hesitate to ask for help!

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