Essays, reports and more

There is a range of assessment types at University, each with their own challenges and requirements. Here is advice around how to tackle essays, reports and other common assessment types.

You might be asked to complete an essay, report, annotated bibliography, oral presentation or other assessment type.  Each of these has their own requirements. The resources you find below will help get you started. 


An academic essay is essentially an answer to a question.  To answer the question, you need to find appropriate information, consider that information and develop a point of view. In your essay you present your answer using the evidence to support your ideas.


In many courses at Lincoln University, you will be asked to write a report.  There are two common types of reports:

  • Research reports – to report on some experimental or field-based research that has been done (eg scientific paper, field trip report)
  • Analytical reports – to provide information and analysis that will (usually) assist in decision making (eg case study report, property report, submission).

Many of your assessments or course work will include reports, such as a valuation report, a field trip report or planning submission. They are widespread and varied.


Examples of Lincoln University assignments requiring reports:

  • Develop a marketing plan for a product of your choice.
  • Undertake a business planning and financial appraisal for a prospective agribusiness project of your choice.
  • Based on the field trip, give an overview of the planning issues in the metropolitan region of Christchurch.
  • Describe in detail the breeding objectives and a breeding strategy for an animal species of your choice.
  • Develop an integrated “sustainability reporting” and “ems” framework for your place of residence.

Annotated bibliographies


An annotated bibliography is a list of sources with publication details and a short summary and (usually) an evaluation of the source. Sometimes it appears at the end of an essay or report, but usually it is a separate, stand alone document. Its purpose is to help readers determine the usefulness of a source and to provide researchers with information about the literature related to a topic.

An annotated bibliography helps you to become familiar with the variety of sources on a topic. As you identify the purpose of each source, and its key findings and arguments, you will also be able to identify commonalities and differences amongst sources and critically evaluate sources. This will help you develop your own point of view about a topic.  An annotated bibliography is a very useful first step in writing an essay or research-based report and lays the foundation for future research.

Please note that this is not the same as a bibliography which is an alphabetical list of sources that a writer has used during the research process. A bibliography appears at the end of an essay, report, etc., and includes the full publication details of each source. The main purpose of a bibliography is to help readers find the sources the author has used or referred to.

Oral presentations

Oral presentations are a common type of assessment at university. We know they can be nerve wracking but being able to present your ideas to a group of people is an important skill at university and in your career. To help build your confidence, we have some tips for you.

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