Weapons and the use of force

Instructions – Essay Plan

Length: 2-3 pages (including bibliography)

Referencing: SAGE Harvard for in-text citations and bibliography


The research essay plan is intended to provide structure for the research essay due at the end of the semester. The plan should include an outline of the topics that will be covered in the essay, and where in the essay each topic will be located. Students will receive feedback on their essay plan in time to help complete their final research essay.


Weapons and the use of force Essay Question

Weapons and the use of force – Electronic stun devices and other ‘less-lethal’ weapons are marketed as offering unmitigated benefits to both police and public safety. Are these claims valid? What are the problems associated with the use of these devices?


What you need to include in the essay plan: 

  • A minimum of 8 topic sentences
  • Evidence/research to back up the topic sentence
  • At least one reference per topic sentence and references for evidence (preferably more than one)
  • Bibliography


  • Decide on a research question (listed above). This will most likely be in the area that you selected for the paper summary assessment. If you want to change and select a question from one of the other listed research areas that is fine also.


  • Brainstorm some ideas. This involves writing down as many different ideas, theories, concepts and examples that relate to your chosen essay question as possible. You have already completed some preliminary research into your topic as part of your paper summary and review, so there should be some ideas floating around your head already. Don’t rule anything out at this stage. You are not submitting this stuff – the point here is to get as many different ideas down as possible.


  • Research! Get some promising books out of the library and search online databases for relevant sources. Read, take notes and think critically about the information and ideas you are engaging with. Are they convincing? Why/why not? Note that this is a research exercise – as such you may use references from the set reading list but these will not count towards the minimum 8 references required. 


  • Start arranging your ideas into a coherent narrative. This means selecting those ideas that best illustrate how you think of and understand your topic. Pick those that seem the most relevant and important in constructing an argument and shedding light on your essay question.


  • Identify the main points that will comprise your argument. These should include what policing theories/concepts (e.g. colonial policing, broken windows theory, etc.) you will be discussing and how they relate to your essay question. All of your main points should be relevant to the essay question.


  • Use your main points to write at least 8 topic sentences. Topic sentences are statements of the main ideas that you intend to explain in your essay. They are the claims that support your argument, and usually are used as the opening sentence in each paragraph. The purpose of the remainder of the paragraph is to back up and elaborate upon the topic sentence.


  • Following each topic sentence, briefly indicate what research you are going to use to demonstrate your point. Include an appropriately formatted reference to at least one scholarly source.


  • List each reference in the bibliography.


Examples of topic sentences include: 


Community policing is popular but also vague and difficult to define. Resistance to community policing initiatives may come from officers working within police forces. There are a few reasons why community policing may improve police-public relations.




Topic sentence: Community policing is popular but also vague and difficult to define.


Evidence/research: To demonstrate this point I plan to compare different definitions of community policing from Martin (2012) and Skolnick (2005).


Topic sentence: The effectiveness of community policing is much debated amongst policing scholars.


Evidence/research: References will be made to a case study looking at community policing in the United States from Brogden (2008) to demonstrate potential positive outcomes.


IMPORTANT: Topic sentences and evidence/research are to be longer than the examples mentioned above. Words used is regards to the police force must also be positive (appropriate explanations).

Last Updated on March 16, 2020