Masters study doesn’t just involve learning about a subject in more depth, but also concerns the development of your thinking skills. Putting together a good argument whether as an essay, dissertation, presentation or another form of assessment, means bringing together the appropriate evidence and presenting it logically; what it also requires is for you to show what you think and why.
Many students are unfamiliar with being asked to show what they think, (particularly in written assignments), but it’s an important part of presenting a coherent argument or line of reasoning. When you set out to answer a question, you automatically make decisions about how you’ll answer it – your take on the question. The reading that you’ve done as well as the lectures, seminars and practical sessions that you’ve attended, as well as your prior knowledge will all influence the way that you decide to tackle the question. As you can see, your perspective is already coming into play.
The choices that you make about the main points that you choose to focus on, the evidence that you select to support them and the language and tone that you use will all indicate how you have thought about the question. When academic staff ask you to ‘show your voice’, this is what they mean.
For some people getting this down on paper is much more difficult than expressing it out loud, so we’ve provided lots of suggestions and tips on this in the Developing your voice section of Step Up to Masters. The video below explains what “academic voice” means for a Masters student in more details.