January 16, 2021

Differences Between an Essay, Assignment, and Dissertation

Essay, Assignment, and Dissertation: What is the Difference?

An essay, assignment, and dissertation are some of the academic tasks that a student will have to complete. Often a teacher or professor will assign each task at different educational levels and based on a specific topic or question. Knowing the differences will help you compose content that meets the teacher’s requirement.


This is a short literary composition where a student is expected to answer a specific question and use evidence to support their arguments. There are numerous types of essays that a learner might have to complete, such as:

  • Expository
  • Narrative
  • Argumentative or persuasive
  • Descriptive
  • Compare and contrast.

Essays are often assigned in the early stages of learning. Hence it is common for a learner to write an essay while in high school or even lower grades. Its function is to give more information about a topic and showcase a student’s thinking and writing skills and the ability to cite information correctly to avoid plagiarism.

It is also to inform the reader on a specific topic using well-reasoned and logical arguments. The topic and directions on how to write an essay are often given, which makes this type of academic task self-explanatory short and easy. An essay is structured into three major parts: Introduction, body, and conclusion.


This is an academic task that has instructions on what to do or what to answer. It is assigned in the course of study and has a clear set of purpose and objectives. An assignment aims to allow a student to do further reading on the course and understand the concepts better.

Thus an assignment often acts as a form of revision while teaching a student to tackle a specific academic problem. By working on an assignment, students can polish their knowledge and gauge whether they have understood the material taught in class.

Assignments are assigned at all academic levels. Hence students will do several assignments while in high school and graduate levels. While employed, your team leader or boss can also give you a specific assignment with unique requirements.

Therefore an assignment is a common task in both the academic and professional worlds. This means a scholar must master exceptional writing, analysis, creativity, and problem-solving skills to complete an assignment correctly. You must also use time-management to ensure the task is finished within the stipulated deadline. Some advantages of an assignment are:

  1. Enhances the knowledge of a particular subject or course.
  2. To sharpen writing skills.
  3. To learn time management and organizing skills.
  4. To develop research skills.

Types of assignments include reports, reviews, abstracts, case studies, and annotated bibliography.


This is a long academic project whose primary purpose is to add new information to that discipline. A dissertation is structured in a unique way and often includes literature review, methodology, findings, future considerations, and references.

In-depth research on the available research material is essential, and all the sources must be appropriately arranged in a reference list. A dissertation length can be over 100 pages and is often done at the graduate level. A proposal has to be accepted before a student can proceed to write the dissertation.

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