Body Paragraphs

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Every History essay needs a series of paragraphs that provide a detailed explanation of the argument that appeared in your hypothesis.

 

For most History essays, three body paragraphs are enough.

What is a ‘body paragraph’?


A body paragraph presents one aspect of your hypothesis’ argument, which is then explained and supported by evidence from historical sources.

 

By the time your marker has finished reading each body paragraph, they should understand the point you were attempting to prove and how it relates to the argument presented in your essay’s hypothesis.

Body paragraph structure


Body paragraphs are highly structured pieces of writing and each sentence of them has a specific purpose. You should never write sentences to simply ‘fill space’ because your marker will quickly realise that you’re not following the correct structure.

 

A well-written body paragraph has the following six-part structure (summarised by the acronym TEEASC).

T – Topic Sentence

E – Explanation Sentences

E – Evidence from sources

A – Analysis of sources

S – Synthesis sentence

C – Concluding sentence

 

Each element of this structure is explained further, with examples, below:


1. Topic Sentence

Your very first sentence should clearly state what point from your hypothesis you are going to be arguing in this paragraph. The more specific you are about your point, the better your topic sentence will be.

 

Not only does your topic sentence state your argument, it should also provide a specific reason for why your argument is true. This reason will be proven during your body paragraph based upon the evidence you’re going to quote from your sources. Your reason is usually preceded by words such as "because", "due to", or "as a result of". 

Example Topic Sentence:

Middle Ages (Year 8 Level)

Castles fell into disuse because the development of gunpowder artillery made medieval stone walls ineffective.

 

WWI (Year 9 Level)

The huge loss of life as a result of the Battle of Bullecourt confirmed the negative opinions that the Australian soldiers experienced during the First World War.

 

Civil Rights (Year 10 Level)

The most significant cause of the 1967 Referendum was the exclusion of aborigines from recognition on the Australian constitution because it denied them access to resources such as education, employment and housing.

 

Ancient Rome (Year 11/12 Level) 

Marius' consulship in 107 BC led to the new enlistment of the lower-class citizens of Rome as soldiers, something that had never been done before, which resulted in major Roman victories.

2. Explanation sentences

After you’ve stated the point you’re going to prove in your topic sentence, you need to explain your point and your reason in detail. This will often require two or three sentences.

 

In your explanation sentences, you need to provide specific historical information so that your marker understands what you meant in your topic sentence. To do this, include the names, dates, people, places and terminology from either your background research or your own historical knowledge.

Example Explanation Sentences:

Middle Ages (Year 8 Level)

Gunpowder appeared in Europe during the late 13th century and the creation of canons during the 14th and 15th was common. By the dawn of the early modern period in the 15th centuries, most feudal lords began to realise the tactical advantages that the new technology offered on the battlefield.

 

WWI (Year 9 Level)

The battle, which occurred in two stages between April and May of 1917, saw the loss of over 10,000, along with over 1000 captured officers. Despite the significant casualties suffered by the Australians, they failed to achieve their strategic objective, which was to finally break through the Hindenburg Line. The grinding attrition, along with the strategic failure, seemed to confirm, for many soldiers, the pointlessness of the conflict.

 

Civil Rights (Year 10 Level)

Ever since the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, the native inhabitants of Australia were not considered citizens under the British constitution. Even though there had been attempts to seek civil recognition since the Day of Mourning in 1938, the government refused to recognise them.

 

Ancient Rome (Year 11/12 Level) 

Throughout most of the Roman Republic, only Roman citizens who possessed land were able to join the exercitus romanus (Roman army); however, this law was abolished by Gaius Marius in 107 BC and led to what would be a major part in the consul’s victories throughout the second century BC.

3. Evidence from sources

After you’ve stated your argument in your topic sentence and explained it further in your explanation sentences, you then need to prove your argument by incorporate a number of good pieces of evidence (usually 2-3) from your historical sources.

 

You should show this evidence through the use of direct and indirect quotes. Remember that you are trying to prove the argument that you stated in your topic sentence, so only provide information that helps show this.

 

When using direct quotes, they should be incorporated into your own sentences and should not be an entire sentence by themselves.

 

A typical evidence sentence has the following structure:

 

[Source Creator's name] says that [direct/indirect quote], which shows that [explanation] (in-text reference).

 

For example:

Smith argues that "Romans were cruel soldiers", which shows that Roman legionaries had a reputation for excessive violence (1977, 186). 

Example Evidence Sentences

Middle Ages (Year 8 Level)

Norris points out that modern artillery could destroy castles from a distance, without ever having to fight with the soldiers defending it (Norris, 2007, 249). Given the fact that, according to a British historian, "[c]astles took years to build” and that canons could destroy them “in a matter of days", this meant that lords were no longer to spend money on their construction (Alchin, 2017, n.p.).

 

WWI (Year 9 Level)

This can be seen in a diary entry written after the battle by Australian corporal Arthur Thomas, who said that he only saw “mass destruction” as he passed his fellow soldiers as they “laid on the ground with excruciating wounds (Thomas, 1918, 58). This futile brutality is confirmed by an Australian doctor who stated that the overwhelming number of killed and maimed soldiers after Bullecourt “was perhaps the most harrowing scene of the war" (Gammage, 1974, 78). The overwhelmingly negative view of the late war years was somewhat down-played by Bean, who was acting as the Australian government’s official historian. Rather than focus on the loss of life, he stated that "many of the Western Australians were hit" during the battle (Bean, 1918, 13).

 

Civil Rights (Year 10 Level)

The absence of aboriginal recognition can be seen in section 127 of the Australian constitution, where it states that "in reckoning the numbers of people of the Commonwealth or of a State, or other part of the Commonwealth, Aboriginal natives shall not be counted" (Andrews, 1962, 1). This clear statement shows how actively the government sought to distant itself from providing rights to the aborigines. The significance of this is highlighted by Behrendt, a professor of law and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, who states that by including Aboriginals in modern day things such as the census would provide equal access to privileges such as education, employment and the economy (Behrendt, 2007, 12).  The overall impact of consecutive government decisions is corroborated by an aboriginal civil rights activist who argues that it was done “intentionally to deny services to the aboriginal people” (Smith, 2018, 43). 

 

Ancient Rome (Year 11/12 Level) 

According to Boatwright, Gargola and Talbert, all classics professors specialising in Roman culture and history, after Marius was elected as consul in 107 BC by the populus romanus, he initiated the new recruitment of any Roman citizen into the Roman army and made the eagle the legion's principal standard (2004, 171). This comment is supported by Connolly, a British historian specialising in Roman warfare, who says that "he threw the legions open to any volunteer who could claim Roman citizenship” (2012, 213). Both sources clearly state that it was Marius who instigated the new recruitment of Roman soldiers. Therefore, Marius was able to achieve “numerous successes that were of incredible magnitude" (Plutarch, Gaius Marius, 8). Plutarch’s Gaius Marius not only details the major events of the Roman consul’s life but also provides a valuable insight and is representative of the upper class Greek people of the second century AD. This comment from Plutarch is reinforced by Cambridge University scholar, and British historian, Scullard: Marius' victories were due to his military reforms (2011, 47).

4. Analysis of sources

When you are providing evidence from your sources to prove your topic sentence, you should give your marker a reason to trust the sources you’re quoting from.

 

Therefore, include some analysis and evaluation of each source. The easiest way to do this is to include information about each source’s author that would encourage your reader to respect their opinion. This can include details about the author’s perspective, intended audience, or reliability

 

For example: 

Smith is a reliable source because he is a professor of Modern History at Oxford University.

Pro tip:

Great essays combine their analysis of sources in the same sentences where they provided their quotes. This saves space and shows a level of sophistication that markers like.

 

 

A structure for combining evidence and analysis in a single sentence:

 

For primary sources:

[Source creator’s name] who [time of creation, perspective, audience, etc.] said that [quote] which shows that [explanation] (in-text reference).

 

For example:

Cicero, who was present at the meeting, claims that Caesar was driven by personal glory, which indicates that he didn’t believe that the dictator couldn’t be trusted (Ad Atticus, III.12).

 

For secondary sources:

[Source creator’s name] who [perspective, purpose, etc.] said that [quote] which shows that [explanation] (in-text reference).

 

For example: 

Oxford professor of Modern History, Smith, argues that "Romans were cruel soldiers", which shows that Roman legionaries had a reputation for excessive violence (1977, 186). 

5. Synthesis sentence

After you have provided quotes to support your argument in your evidence and analysis sentences, you need to remind your marker how your evidence works together to prove your topic sentence.

 

To do this, provide a quick summary in one sentence about how all of your quotes proves what you said in your topic sentence. The easiest way to do this might be to point out how one source corroborates the evidence of another source. 

Example Synthesis sentences:

Middle Ages (Year 8 Level)

As Norris and Alcuin both point out, the previous advantages of the stone castles benefited defenders were neutralised with the technological development of artillery.

 

WWI (Year 9 Level)

However, despite the official account, the graphic details of the soldiers and doctors demonstrate that the overwhelming negative opinions the Australians had developed since the outbreak of the war were all but confirmed by 1917.

 

Civil Rights (Year 10 Level)

The denial of these rights became the primary motivating factor in the lead up to the federal referendum, as indigenous people sought legal channels to gain citizenship rights.

 

Ancient Rome (Year 11/12 Level) 

The evidence from both ancient and modern sources, confirms that Gaius Marius was responsible for the reforming of the Roman army and from this achieved many victories.

6. Concluding sentence

The final sentence of your body paragraph simply restates what you have proven in your paragraph. In most cases, it will reword and restate what your argument was in your topic sentence.

 

Because it is summarising what you’ve already stated, a concluding sentence often begins with the phrases ‘Therefore’, ‘As a result’, or ‘Consequently’.

Example Concluding Sentence:

Middle Ages (Year 8 Level)

As a result, the construction of castles was discontinued in the early modern period as a direct result of the increased use of gunpowder artillery in sieges.

 

WWI (Year 9 Level)

The Battle of Bullecourt is only one of many flashpoints during 1917 and 1918 that shows that the experience of Australian soldiers changed with the course of the war. 

 

Civil Rights (Year 10 Level) 

 

Therefore, it is clear that the exclusion of aborigines from Australian government recognition was the primary motivating factor for the 1967 referendum.

 

Ancient Rome (Year 11/12 Level) 

 

As is clear, Marius' consulship opened up new recruiting options for Roman generals, which increased the frequency of military successes on the battlefield.

 

Putting it all together


Once you have written all six parts of the TEEASC structure, you should have a completed body paragraph. In the examples above, we have shown each part separately. Below you will see the completed paragraphs so that you can appreciate what a body paragraph should look like.

Example body paragraphs:  

Middle Ages (Year 8 Level)

Castles fell into disuse because the development of gunpowder artillery made medieval stone walls ineffective. Gunpowder appeared in Europe during the late 13th century and the creation of canons during the 14th and 15th was common. By the dawn of the early modern period in the 15th centuries, most feudal lords began to realise the tactical advantages that the new technology offered on the battlefield. Norris points out that modern artillery could destroy castles from a distance, without ever having to fight with the soldiers defending it (Norris, 2007, 249). Given the fact that, according to a British historian, "[c]astles took years to build” and that canons could destroy them “in a matter of days", this meant that lords were no longer to spend money on their construction (Alchin, 2017, n.p.). As Norris and Alcuin both point out, the previous advantages of the stone castles benefited defenders were neutralised with the technological development of artillery. As a result, the construction of castles was discontinued in the early modern period as a direct result of the increased use of gunpowder artillery in sieges.

 

WWI (Year 9 Level)

The huge loss of life as a result of the Battle of Bullecourt confirmed the negative opinions that the Australian soldiers experienced during the First World War. The battle, which occurred in two stages between April and May of 1917, saw the loss of over 10,000, along with over 1000 captured officers. Despite the significant casualties suffered by the Australians, they failed to achieve their strategic objective, which was to finally break through the Hindenburg Line. The grinding attrition, along with the strategic failure, seemed to confirm, for many soldiers, the pointlessness of the conflict. This can be seen in a diary entry written after the battle by Australian corporal Arthur Thomas, who said that he only saw “mass destruction” as he passed his fellow soldiers as they “laid on the ground with excruciating wounds (Thomas, 1918, 58). This futile brutality is confirmed by an Australian doctor who stated that the overwhelming number of killed and maimed soldiers after Bullecourt “was perhaps the most harrowing scene of the war" (Gammage, 1974, 78). The overwhelmingly negative view of the late war years was somewhat down-played by Bean, who was acting as the Australian government’s official historian. Rather than focus on the loss of life, he stated that "many of the Western Australians were hit" during the battle (Bean, 1918, 13). However, despite the official account, the graphic details of the soldiers and doctors demonstrate that the overwhelming negative opinions the Australians had developed since the outbreak of the war were all but confirmed by 1917. The Battle of Bullecourt is only one of many flashpoints during 1917 and 1918 that shows that the experience of Australian soldiers changed with the course of the war. 

 

Civil Rights (Year 10 Level)

The most significant cause of the 1967 Referendum was the exclusion of aborigines from recognition on the Australian constitution because it denied them access to resources such as education, employment and housing. Ever since the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, the native inhabitants of Australia were not considered citizens under the British constitution. Even though there had been attempts to seek civil recognition since the Day of Mourning in 1938, the government refused to recognise them. The absence of aboriginal recognition can be seen in section 127 of the Australian constitution, where it states that "in reckoning the numbers of people of the Commonwealth or of a State, or other part of the Commonwealth, Aboriginal natives shall not be counted" (Andrews, 1962, 1). This clear statement shows how actively the government sought to distant itself from providing rights to the aborigines. The significance of this is highlighted by Behrendt, a professor of law and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, who states that by including Aboriginals in modern day things such as the census would provide equal access to privileges such as education, employment and the economy (Behrendt, 2007, 12).  The overall impact of consecutive government decisions is corroborated by an aboriginal civil rights activist who argues that it was done “intentionally to deny services to the aboriginal people” (Smith, 2018, 43).  The denial of these rights became the primary motivating factor in the lead up to the federal referendum, as indigenous people sought legal channels to gain citizenship rights. Therefore, it is clear that the exclusion of aborigines from Australian government recognition was the primary motivating factor for the 1967 referendum.

 

Ancient Rome (Year 11/12 Level) 

Marius' consulship in 107 BC led to the new enlistment of the lower-class citizens of Rome as soldiers, something that had never been done before, which resulted in major Roman victories. Throughout most of the Roman Republic, only Roman citizens who possessed land were able to join the exercitus romanus (Roman army); however, this law was abolished by Gaius Marius in 107 BC and led to what would be a major part in the consul’s victories throughout the second century BC. According to Boatwright, Gargola and Talbert, all classics professors specialising in Roman culture and history, after Marius was elected as consul in 107 BC by the populus romanus, he initiated the new recruitment of any Roman citizen into the Roman army and made the eagle the legion's principal standard (2004, 171). This comment is supported by Connolly, a British historian specialising in Roman warfare, who says that "he threw the legions open to any volunteer who could claim Roman citizenship” (2012, 213). Both sources clearly state that it was Marius who instigated the new recruitment of Roman soldiers. Therefore, Marius was able to achieve “numerous successes that were of incredible magnitude" (Plutarch, Gaius Marius, 8). Plutarch’s Gaius Marius not only details the major events of the Roman consul’s life but also provides a valuable insight and is representative of the upper class Greek people of the second century AD. This comment from Plutarch is reinforced by Cambridge University scholar, and British historian, Scullard: Marius' victories were due to his military reforms (2011, 47). The evidence from both ancient and modern sources, confirms that Gaius Marius was responsible for the reforming of the Roman army and from this achieved many victories. As is clear, Marius' consulship opened up new recruiting options for Roman generals, which increased the frequency of military successes on the battlefield.


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