How to Write a Research Essay in Religious Studies: A Step-by-Step Guide to Follow

Writing guide
Posted on April 9, 2021

Students at schools, colleges, and universities write different papers daily. An essay belongs to the most popular types of academic assignments. There are 4 main types of essays: descriptive, narrative, argumentative, and expository. As a rule, tutors and teachers ask students to present descriptive, narrative and expository essays in religion. Regarding ethical rules, it is not polite to talk about religious and political beliefs. Nevertheless, students might deal with argumentative essays as well.
Below you can see explanations for each essay type:

  • argumentative (a person argues something and supplies the chosen viewpoint with facts and pieces of evidence)
  • descriptive (a writer has to describe the topic vividly involving 5 senses)
  • narrative (a student tells a story about an event, a person or personal experience usually in the first person singular)
  • expository (the main task is to provide the information about the theme of the paper)

Everyone who has to deal with essay writing should know what and how to write. The first thing everyone should remember is not to panic. The second one is to concentrate on the assignment and delete all distractors. The next thing is to make a plan and follow it. The last step is to check everything and hand in the paper before the deadline. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Nevertheless, you must pay attention to each detail and be patient. That is why we have prepared tips for you to start and finish your paper successfully.

How to Write a Research Essay in Religious Studies: Choosing a Topic

It doesn’t matter whether you are going to write an essay or a thesis paper when one speaks about the selection of the topic. It is very important to choose a theme that can intrigue and make the target audience read the paper. Students should not copy and paste the information they have read in books, articles, and encyclopedias. Their task is to argue, discuss, and engage with the chosen sources. Consequently, to find a worthy topic one should learn a lot of different sources.
Religion is a rather controversial subject. It provokes discussions, wars and can save or lead to fatal consequences. These are sample topics in religion for all types of essays that can captivate the reader’s attention.

Argumentative Essay

  • Transgenders and Homosexuality: Do They Really Contradict Christianity?
  • ‘Don’t Kill’: Why the Bible Regards Murders as Sins and the Quran Encourages Them;
  • Gods, Titans, and Aliens: Who Rules the World.

Descriptive Essay

  • How does an Atheist Become a Believer?
  • Jesus as a Person: Appearance, Biography, and Influence on People;
  • Life in Heaven and Hell: What Do Religious Books Tell Us About It?

Narrative Essay

  • My First Visit to the Church;
  • My First Impression after Reading the Holy Bible;
  • Ethical Dilemmas I Had to Face in My Life.

Expository Essay

  • How Different Religions Treat Gender Roles;
  • Scientific Studies and Religious Books: How Scientists Explain Prophecies;
  • What Is Christianity and Who Can Be Considered to Be Safe?

The main task of a student is not to make the topic too narrow or too wide. It must cover one issue and explain it from various perspectives. One should surf the Internet, investigate scientific literature, read religious books, and talk to believers. Being well-informed means to be able to create an excellent paper. One should not be afraid to ask for advice. A tutor or an experienced student can help to select a striking topic.

BUT! Never ask for help when being not prepared. Advisers can motivate you to make a better decision but they are not to do it instead of you!

How to Write a Research Essay in Religious Studies: Pre-Writing Tips

There are several rules which help researchers get high grades. They are effective assistants in self-organization and becoming topic-centered.

Tip #1. Study an Essay Type You Have to Create

Make sure that you know what an essay is. There are four main types of an essay and a student has to learn demands for each of them. That will create a good reputation for a responsible student who knows what to do and how to do it.

Tip #2. Mind Limitations and Logic

Before one starts writing a paper it is necessary to decide what to write. A person should not chaotically reflect the knowledge received during research. An essay must be well-structured. A writer must back up each fact and emphasize unique ideas. An average essay is smaller than a thesis paper. That is why it is essential to be laconic and try to convey catchy and important information within several pages or the required number of words.

Tip #3. Study Good Examples

You are not the first person who must write a paper in religion. Many students have successfully performed such academic assignments and published their works on the Internet. Everybody can read and analyze free samples. Experts recommend choosing templates that belong to the required essay type.

Tip #4. Brainstorm to Select the Topic and Find Out What Information Is Needed

Sometimes a person wants to explain something but he or she lacks information. It does not let a student develop the idea and, as a result, consumes more time. Consequently, a person either fails the task or cannot cope with the deadline. That is why a writer must fill in the gaps to delete this unnecessary distractor.

Tip #5. Try to Avoid Distractions and Find a Good Place to Write

Effective and productive writing is possible only in case a writer deletes everything that can distract. A stuffy room, an uncomfortable place, slow work of a laptop, lack of the demanded data, social network sites, TV, and phone calls or messages disturb students and damage their thinking and writing abilities. One should create the most convenient environment to write an A-level paper.

How to Write a Research Essay in Religious Studies: Step 2. Structuring

Documents and academic papers have a structure that a student should preserve. Unofficial documents can deal with freestyle writing. Most academic papers have formatting and structural requirements. Even if the content of the paper is worthy, the mark can be lower because of improper formatting and structure.


A student should make a plan for an essay to structure and organize the information on the topic logically. An average outline of an essay looks like this:

An average essay consists of three parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Each part should contain specific information that is to be valid. Let’s talk about each part of the paper.


Have you ever searched for some information on the Internet? Have you noticed that you were selecting websites paying attention to their ‘names’? The title serves as the main attractor. A student should make it winning. There are 3 basic rules:

  1. a title must be concise and not exceed 70-80 characters excluding spaces
  2. it must intrigue the target audience
  3. it must contain keywords

Example: Outrageous Waves of Restrictions on Christianity in the democratic US

An Introduction

A beginning of an essay is called an introduction. This part presents the main idea of the paper to the reader. As a rule, the function of this part is to make the target audience to read the whole paper. That is why it must strike readers with valid facts that can provoke discussions or intrigue with something unbelievable. Nowadays movies with unpredictable ending are a huge box office success. If you want to succeed, you’d better try to provide the alike effect on the reader. You may start with a question or some captivating information.
Example: What are the rules of Buddhism if the is no official book like the Bible or the Quran? (question)
Example: Catholic and Orthodox Churches have canonized the Buddha as a saint. (fact)
Example: Protestants warm up global intolerance towards same-sex relations and marriages. Only 24% of protestants support such couples. (argumentative statement)
An introductory part usually contains a thesis statement. It is a sentence that reflects the core idea and the topic of the essay. It should not exceed 40 words.
Example: Society and the government of 168 countries harass Christians and it makes them the most discriminated believers in the world.
This part of an essay makes up to 10% of the whole paper. It must be laconic but informative.

The Body

This part of an essay includes several paragraphs. Each paragraph must be logically connected with the previous and the following ones. As a rule, one paragraph states for one reason. For example, the first paragraph supports the thesis statement, the second one gives facts, and the next one explains them.

This is an example of a supporting paragraph.

‘The United States of America discriminates Christian churches. Authorities and organizations turned down a request of The Rocky Mountain Christian Church connected with the foundation of worship facilities and expanding of school in 2010.’ (source)

This part of an essay makes more than 80% of the whole paper. Its purpose is to explain everything giving only valid information and ‘speak’ to the point.

A Conclusion

The main goal of this part is to restate the thesis statement, draw together arguments (if there are any), underline your position regarding the idea of the paper, and even suggest an idea for further investigation of the topic.

Example: ‘Though there are many cases connected with the discrimination of Christianity in the U.S., North Korea remains the most repressive country. Despite the Constitutional guarantees, there is no freedom of religion and more than 200 thousand Christians have gone missing.’ (source)

How to Write a Research Essay in Religious Studies: Step 3. Post-Writing Tips

There are 5 things each essay writer has not to forget.

Dos and Don’ts

When checking an essay, a person must pay attention to things he or she should and shouldn’t do. These are some dos and don’ts.

  • use active voice instead of passive constructions;
  • apply only verified information;
  • provide the list of used sources;
  • study the requirements of a college/ school/ university;
  • make each sentence informative.


  • copy-paste;
  • steal someone’s ideas;
  • delay task performance;
  • make the text watery;
  • provide unverified data;
  • sound abusive concerning some religions;
  • neglect formatting and structural peculiarities.

Reliable Sources

If a person writes an essay that demands facts (the exclusion can be only essays about personal experience and believes), it is necessary to reference information. How to differentiate between reliable and fake or less trustable sources? A researcher should pay attention to its ending. It must state for an official organization (org/com/edu) or abbreviation of the country (ca/uk/etc). A person should look for scientific websites, official web sources of educational organizations, encyclopedias, scientific journals, newspapers, magazines, textbooks, and so on.
These are useful websites that might help you find cool information for your essay in research studies.

Proofreading and Editing

Despite the fact that essays are rather short, it is necessary to proofread and edit a paper several times. Why? Firstly, a person can finish the paper being tired. Consequently, a student will not notice grammar and lexical mistakes. Secondly, the world changes daily and sometimes facts need updating. Thirdly, a student can ask someone to read the paper and comment on it. If a researcher does not have experienced friends, he or she can turn to a professional editor who can check the essay and suggest improvements.

Grammarly, SEO Analysis and Hemingway apps help to find and correct grammar mistakes, improve the readability of the text, and define keywords and density of various lexical units.

Scan by Plagiarism Checkers

One can find free plagiarism checkers to scan an essay and make sure that a tutor will not ban it because of copyright law.


MLA, Chicago, ASA, and APA formats differ. A student must study the requirements and format the essay appropriately.


  1. “Essay.” Definitions and Examples of Literary Terms,
  2. Karin Lehnardt. “60 Enlightening Buddhism Facts”. Fact Retriever: Interesting Fact for the Curious Mind, 12 Aug. 2019
  3. “Rising Tide of Restrictions on Religion.” Pew Research Center, 20 Sep. 2012
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