Guideline on writing a term paper for an English speaking seminar

Guideline on writing a term paper for an English speaking seminar

This guideline provides an orientation on writing a term paper. Please note that lecturers may provide further or deviating rules in some seminars. A term paper requires writing of a comprehensive essay based on two or more published research papers (10-12 pages). The following structure of a paper is a suggestion; If there are well considered reasons to deviate from this form that enhance comprehensibility – but not merely reduce the author’s workload -, this is not a problem and should be discussed with the lecturer.

Content of the term paper

The goal of the paper is to review the material in its entirety and to analyze multiple perspectives (concepts, ideas) of the issues at hand, especially with regard to the general topic that you received. The paper should also offer conclusions based on a re-examination of the material. The paper contains three main sections; an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.


This section should be at most one page long. It does two things. First, it “introduces” the topic. This means it should begin with some background information about the topic designed to spark interest in the reader. It should also provide evidence for the relevance of the topic and the area of research the topic belongs to. Secondly, it states what the critical review essay itself will contain, e.g. the main theses. This section should also contain a very short characterization of the state of research.


The body of the review should be around seven to eight pages long. Obviously, theoretical background, methods of research, and results should be covered in this section. You should focus on relevant information and should present information in a systematic and comprehensible manner (please make sure you’re neither too specific nor too general).

The body may consist of several chapters to provide a more detailed structure. Each chapter should cover a broad line of thought, in general it should contain more than just a single paragraph. Introductory and connecting passages can be used in chapters to provide a comprehensible thread throughout the term paper.

The review should be more than just a re-narration of the original material (e.g., use your own words, do not use quotes all the time); therefore, it is highly recommended that outside sources will be used to further embody the issues brought forward in the original material and to make your discussion richer in content. Such sources should be taken from peer reviewed journals. You should use all of the same technical terminology that the original author uses (e.g., use “personality” instead of “human nature”).

Within the body you will be expected to supply any important tables and figures that help to clarify the material.


This section is typically 1.5-2 pages long. Again, the conclusion section has two parts; 1) to summarize the main points already discussed in the body, and 2) to offer your own critique of the original material. A summarization of points already discussed should be balanced and concise. In your critique you should offer your own opinions and any criticisms you have of the original material as well as what you see as the theoretical and practical implications of the original research. Finally, you should offer a closing statement or paragraph that gives a “take home” message.

Technical details

The term paper should consist of about 10-12 pages, using 12pt font, 1.5-line spacing, and a right margin of about 3cm. Figures and Tables should be self-explanatory, numbered, and should also be referred to and explained in the text. Citations and References should adhere to the standards of the American Psychological Association (APA-Style). Furthermore, use scientific references, i.e., rather than citing Wikipedia, you should refer to peer reviewed journals

The Title page has to contain:

  • Topic/title of your paper
  • Personal information: Name, physical and email Address, Phone number, study year (Semesterzahl), Student ID (Matrikelnummer), study major (e.g., BWL, SoWI, Bachelor Sozialökonomik etc.)
  • Course number according to the Prüfungsamt (Prüfungsnummer)
  • Course type the paper earns credits for
  • Lecturer(s)’(s) name(s)
  • Master students: 1st or 2nd Version

Furthermore, the last page of the paper needs to contain a signed statement, either in English or German:

Muster für eine Eigenständigkeitserklärung

Sample Declaration of Originality

You can download an exemplar with a title page for MS Word from, see “Beispiel zur Formatierung einer Seminararbeit”.

Usually, the lecturer sets a due date for the term papers. Bachelor students should turn in a single version of their paper. Master students should turn in two versions of the paper. A preliminary grade as well as feedback on the paper is then provided and the author has the opportunity to rework the paper in order to improve the preliminary grade up to one grade (e.g., if the preliminary grade is a 2.7 the grade can be improved up to a 1.7). A single version of the reworked paper plus the feedback on the first version suffices. Reworking the paper is not mandatory; if this opportunity is missed, the preliminary grade will be taken as a final grade.

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg