Table of contents
- List of Argumentative Essay Topics
- The Principles of Formatting Academic Papers
- How to Prepare Your Essay
- Tips for Choosing Good Argumentative Essay Topics
Argumentative essays are very popular projects in universities, especially in English composition, history, political science, etc. The reason why professors like to assign them is because they want to see how well you can reason and support an argument. This article will not only show you how to choose argumentative essay topics, but it will also teach you how to write the project, as well!
List of Controversial Argumentative Essay Topics
What are the most controversial topics?
When it comes to controversial topics, these are often caused by conflicting ethical principles (e.g. euthanasia), by going against traditional values (LGBT rights, gender roles), by having to do with societal taboos, with delicate or painful issues/ collective memories, by the existence of polarized groups in society having different beliefs/ stances (e.g. religious groups, atheists, gun ownership supporters), etc.
Here are some topics that are appropriate for hardworking students who want to achieve the best grades:
The family is the fundamental unit of society which has direct links to the individual and influences/ dictates many other higher level social processes/ structures/ hierarchies. Hence, its role for the individual and collective existence of humans is simply monumental. This makes it a topic worth researching and exploring from a sociological, cultural, psychological, etc. perspective.
Moreover, given the current cultural transitions characterizing liberal societies, traditional values on which families were build have known a dramatic shift due to a shift in gender roles, the recognition of LGBT rights. Thus, families nowadays are facing existential questions – many of the aspects we grew accustomed to are simply redefined ( same sex marriages and parents). Here is a short list of argumentative essay topics related to family:
- Should homesexual partners be allowed to adopt children?
- It is ok for a parent to physically discipline his child?
- Should mothers stay at home and look after children, or should they work like their husbands?
- Are children better off in two parent households?
- Should someone who has been convicted of a sex crime be allowed to visit his own children?
- Should children be forcibly taken from their parents if the state feels that the parents are incompetent?
- What are the advantages and benefits of reading to children?
- Do you believe that same-sex couples make better or worse parents?
- What positive and negative long-term effects can corporal punishment have on children?
- Should families have a television in the house or not?
We are all defined by the societies we live in. Whether we are aware of this or not, it slowly carves our personalities as we grow up, mature, age. This influence is exerted through the families we grow in, our friends or romantic partners, our teachers/ professors and academic colleagues, our professional contacts, the churches we attend, and through any other person we interact with on the street, on the phone, online. etc. A fundamental principle according to which society functions is “My liberty ends where your liberty begins”.
While this depicts the general spirit, every individual situation/ social relationship is characterized by peculiar circumstances that all need to be considered in order to reach a mutually satisfying solution (or at least a compromise). Last but not least societies worldwide are undergoing serious changes nowadays, that also need to be addressed. Find below a selection of argumentative essay topics related to society:
- Should abortion be legal or illegal?
- Do you believe that a person who is terminally ill has a right to assisted suicide?
- Should private businesses be allowed to discriminate against their clients based on race, gender, or sexual orientation?
- What should countries do to address the problem of illegal immigration?
- Should the Church play a more active role in government and society?
- Is the death penalty an effective deterrent to criminals?
- Should countries have a social safety net that protects the needy and the disadvantaged?
- Do you think that those receiving welfare payments should be required to actively seek work?
- What positive and negative effects does globalization have on societies?
- Does diversity in the workplace increase or decrease tension?
To manage all the complexity of interactions happening in society (involving individuals, groups of people, property owners, employers and employees, commercial entities, criminals, foreigners) a clear and transparent set of rules had to be implemented - a fundamental prerequisite of every society starting with the most ancient ones.
Writing legislation, however, is an ongoing process and given the speed with which new technologies appear nowadays and the shifts in mentality we undergo, adopting the laws that help manage all emerging problems is quite a challenge. In fact, adopting a law might solve one problem but create others, so oftentimes, it is a cycle of trial and error.
- Should Federal bureaucracies be allowed to pass regulations that have the same weight as laws passed by legislative bodies?
- Would Great Britain be better off if the House of Lords had veto power over the House of Commons?
- Should judges make their rulings based on the wording of the law, or should they make rulings that benefit society?
- Do you believe that states should be able to nullify Federal law and rulings made by the Supreme Court if they believe such laws and rulings violate their rights as sovereign republics in the Union?
- Does the Second Amendment allow for ordinary citizens to own firearms, or does it only relegate these rights to militias?
- Does the Supreme Court of the United States have too much power over the other branches of government?
- Should birth-right citizenship be abolished by Congress?
- Is it a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment for states to deny the franchise to criminals?
- Is it a violation of the Fourth Amendment for the NSA to collect meta data?
- Should prosecuting a child as an adult be considered by the Supreme Court to be a violation of the Eighth Amendment?
Ethics deals with the challenge of taking right decisions from the standpoint of moral values. Oftentimes, it is involved when discussing conflicting subjects – those in which, at first sight, both conflicting positions seem to have a valid reasoning and seem to be driven by high moral principles.
By delving deeper into these problems, it is often possible to see additional layers, to learn about specific circumstances, typical case scenarios but also to dissect problems and reflect both on their causes and potential solutions. Here are a few argumentative essay topics on some ethically controversial issues:
- Do you believe that a priest or psychologist ought to be required by law to share the contents of their conversations with parishioners and patients with the police?
- Is it ethical for a doctor to deny treatment to a patient who can not afford an operation?
- Is it right for a college to have racial quotas that benefit minorities while denying entrance to academically gifted white and asian students?
- Should someone be allowed to use a gun to defend his home from an intruder?
- Should the First Amendment protect speech that might be considered offensive by some?
- Is it ethical to require sex offenders to have their names listed on registries visible to the public?
- Is it morally acceptable to offer a white lie to someone when the truth might hurt their feelings?
- Should prostitution be a legal career?
- Do you think that drug use should be legalized?
- Should hunting be considered cruelty to animals?
History can be viewed as the collective memory of humankind that typically records big or remarkable events affecting lots of people or signifying important societal, cultural, economic, etc. changes/ transitions. The chief practical motivation for learning history is to never repeat the errors we made as a species in the past but the subject has also great intrinsic value, since it describes our evolution from hunter-gatherers to individuals living in extremely sophisticated societies.
Some major events on this road were the invention of laws, capitalism, money, state institutions, constitution, separation of powers in a state. Many recent historic events help understand current relationships/ processes occurring between countries but also within societies. Check the following topics:
- Was colonialism beneficial to the Third World, or was it harmful?
- Was Adolf Hitler right to demand that territory formerly belonging to Germany be returned to it?
- Should President Abraham Lincoln have allowed the Southern states to leave the Union peacefully?
- Do you believe that the United States was justified in expelling the Native Americans from regions inhabited by white settlers?
- Was the Soviet Union justified in occupying Eastern Europe at the end of the Second World War?
- What were the causes of the U.S.-Mexican War and what effects does it have on the world today?
- What were the primary causes of the Indo-Pak Wars following the dissolution of British India?
- Was Reconstruction of the American South following the American Civil War a success or a failure?
- Why was Prussia successful in unifying Germany into a single nation?
- What effect did the invention of the cotton gin have on American agriculture?
Argumentative essay topics related to health can be very broad in their scope: these could discuss various medical conditions arguing in favor of new treatment approaches or revealing new evidence regarding the causes of certain diseases (e.g. allergy), problems faced by the healthcare system and ways to address them best, various medical practices, the influence of modern lifestyle on our health, myths about a healthy lifestyle (and their debunking), problems with untrustworthy medically-related information on the web and how to address the issue, etc.
- Do you believe that healthcare should be free for all?
- Should prisoners in the United States have the same access to healthcare as do free persons?
- Is it ethical to perform medical experiments on animals?
- Should medical knowledge gained from experiments performed on people in Nazi concentration camps be used today?
- Is it better to have a private or public healthcare system?
- How should the United States cope with an increasingly aging population?
- Should people with sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDs, be forcibly quarantined?
- Is drug and alcohol addiction a disease?
- Should military service members be allowed to sue military doctors for medical malpractice?
- How are 21st Century social conditions affecting people’s health?
The role of education in shaping our future is obvious and direct given than current generations of students would be in positions of power within a few years and for the following few decades. Hence, the state/ society should attend to the needs of current generations and ensure a harmonious and qualitative intellectual, moral, and physical development, while also ensuring that these generations are not only adapted to the requirements of these times but that they have the skills, wisdom, and determination to make things evolve in a correct direction (addressing current global problems).
Here is a list of argumentative essay topics related to education:
- Should children with special needs be taught separately from normal children?
- Should standardized test scores be used to determine whether or not a student graduates?
- Do you believe that common core will benefit the American education system?
- Should the curriculum in public schools be determined by local communities or by the state?
- Which system is better: teacher centered or student centered education?
- Should schools include athletics as part of school life, or should school be solely for academic purposes?
- What are the benefits and drawbacks of a classical education?
- Compare and contrast learning methodologies of the 19th and 20th centuries.
- How can parents facilitate learning in the classroom?
- Should teachers be friends with their students?
Foreign policy topics have to do with international diplomacy including in relation to armed conflicts, frozen conflicts, commercial treaties and commercial wars, military alliances or cooperation, weapon commerce, peace-keeping operations, traditional and emerging ties between countries, and many others.
The foreign policy of a country is often determined by politics, national interests, economic circumstances, social issues (e.g. low tolerance against immigrants), values, and traditions, history of diplomatic ties. Feel free to check the essay topics below for inspiration:
- Should the United States engage in rapprochement with Russia?
- Do you believe that the European Union is beneficial to Europe?
- Is it a good policy for the EU and NATO to expand in Eastern Europe?
- Should the United States guarantee the security of South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan against China, Russia, and North Korea?
- Is Great Britain justified in leaving the European Union?
- What should Ukraine’s foreign policy be as a result of American and Russian interference in her domestic affairs?
- Should South and North Korea unify or should they remain separate countries?
- What foreign policy objectives should the Trump administration pursue?
- How can Russia and the United States achieve a lasting peace in Syria that is beneficial to both nations and Syria?
- How has terrorism affected the foreign policies of the United States and Russia?
Read also: 90 Best Capstone Project Ideas
A strong economy is essential for the well-being of a nation since it is the engine for individual prosperity, for infrastructure projects benefiting millions, for well-financed medicine, education, military, which, in turn, is the warrant of national safety.
Argumentative essay topics related to economy could deal with policies regarding economic development (tax cuts vs increased taxation for big corporations/ small and medium enterprises, protectionism vs joining free trade treaties), socio-economic doctrine (socialism/ communism/ capitalism), the investigation of reasons behind economic crises, indices of a strong economy, how to solve economic problems in developing countries.
- Should developed nations adopt socialism?
- Which economic system is better for society, capitalism or socialism?
- What are some of the reasons why communism failed in the Soviet Union?
- Is buying shares speculation or is it investing?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of an economy oriented towards exporting commodities?
- What were the causes of the recession of 2008, and how might such an economic downturn be avoided in the future?
- Did President Roosevelt’s New Deal policies help to end the Great Depression, or did they protract America’s economic woes?
- What economic policies should Third World countries adopt to improve their global status?
- Should countries adopt protectionist or free-trade policies?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages to being in a customs union?
According to a popular saying, “if you don’t want to feed your own army, be prepared to feed the enemy’s army” – this summarizes the role played by the military for any given nation. While, according to the statistics of the last decades, we seem to be moving away from wars, these still occur and given the weaponry of today, they can be very destructive.
Nowadays, military science is not only resumed to the use of strategies and tactical maneuvers, but also to the mastery of a number of advanced technologies (nuclear weapons, drones, AI-powered devices, lasers, satellites).
- Can wars be won solely by strategic bombing, or are ground forces necessary to achieve victory?
- Can mechanized units be used to take urban areas, or should light infantry supported by artillery and aircraft better suited for this role?
- When waging a counter-insurgency in another country, should reprisals be taken against civilians in order to deter them from aiding the opposition force?
- Is it morally acceptable to use chemical and biological munitions as area denial weapons?
- What role did sea power play in the emergence of Great Britain as the premier superpower of the 19th Century?
- Why, despite arguably having the best army in the world, did Germany still lose the Second World War?
- In a total war, where the objective is to replace the enemy’s government and completely occupy his country, do the means justify the ends?
- Are aircraft carriers still useful on the modern battlefield, or are have they been rendered obsolete by recent developments in air and submarine warfare?
- Should the United States military seek to weaponize space?
- Can artificial intelligence and machines replace soldiers on the battlefield?
Are you a sports fan? Even if you are not, you can still pick relevant and interesting subjects to discuss and explore in your upcoming assignment. First, you will have to choose your position and makes sure that you have a clear idea of your thesis statement. Later on, you will have to come up with relevant evidence to support the other side of the argument. Check this list of controversial essay topics:
- Stereotyping for college athletes; is playing sports going to affect your academic level?
- Cheerleading is a real sport; are cheerleaders shamed for what they like to do the most?
- Colleges spend too much money on sports programs.
- Animal sports should be banned and criminalized.
- Controlling the types of ads broadcast during sports events that children and teenagers watch.
- Betting on all kinds of sports contradicts with the main purpose of practicing them.
- Male and female athletes should be given the same salaries and chances.
- Chess is a real sport that trains the important organ in the body: the brain.
- Is American football too dangerous for players?
- Do elite athletes really deserve their enormous income?
6th-grade Argumentative Essay Topics
For a 6th-grade student, picking the right topic for the upcoming essay can be a real challenge. Although you might think that you are better off when your teacher assigns the topic, it is interesting to make a choice on your own. Here are some topics that are appropriate for hardworking students who want to achieve the best grades.
- Should education be free for everyone?
- Why are children becoming more obese?
- Current academic grading system: is it fair?
- What are the negative effects of following a nutritional diet?
- Getting enough sleep: is it getting enough attention?
- Children and teens playing dangerous sports.
- Should violent video games be prohibited by law?
- What is the effect of mobile phones on children and teens?
- Parents should have no control over the lives of their children once they turn 16.
- Are children and teens doing what they have to do to overcome globalization?
Technology plays a crucial part in our lives, and this role keeps on growing every single day. The technological breakthrough is currently improving the quality of life for millions of people but is also changing life as we know it. Here are some controversial topics to write about:
- Is technology turning us into present-time zombies?
- Is technology making people feel lonely?
- Online dating; is it replacing the real thing?
- Is technology limiting creativity in young people?
- Do you think that humanity will reach a point where there is no chance for any technological advancement?
- Spending money on exploring space: The cost and the benefits.
- The effect of technology on education.
- Is technology making people smarter or dumber?
- Can technology be used to treat human problems related to feelings?
- Should cloning be allowed or banned?
The rise in popularity of different social media platforms caused a lot of changes across the globe. For starters, memes and trends spread too fast that one single meme can be viewed and shared by millions of people in one single hour. Privacy, safety, and social responsibility are becoming extremely important as more people are relying on social media to communicate, study, work and affect the lives of others.
- What is the right age to allow children to have their private social media accounts?
- Does spending too much time on social media ruin family and personal relationships?
- Social media pranks and challenges; are they really dangerous?
- Social media platforms can change someone’s point of view and bias.
- Should social media platforms be monitored and controlled?
- Are funny memes ethical?
- Reporting offensive social media content; is it really worth it?
- International trends and how they affect the way we behave.
- Are YouTubers responsible for comments their fans publish on their posts?
- Making money off social media.
Funny Argument Topics
Who said that education shouldn’t be fun? Picking the right funny topics is going to spice up the atmosphere in class and stir up a few laughs. Here are some ideas to think about before you decide on the topic of your next task.
- Why do people like to watch funny cat videos?
- The reason why more people are interested in watching funny pranks.
- Our world would be different if dogs ruled it.
- Why are clowns frightening?
- Pretending that you are actually working; is it good or bad?
- Teenagers have the worst pay for the worst jobs.
- Reasons to love and hate your last name.
- How to get rejected on a date.
- Annoying your parents; is it worth it?
- Telling lies and getting away with them.
These lists provide amazing ideas that you can use in your upcoming assignment. Browse them and make sure that you choose a relevant one to discuss in your writing.
What are good topics for college essays?
Good college essays may explore problems or challenges faced by students or youth, career choices, educational opportunities, inspiring people, but also global or local challenges faced by current generations of students, the dangers and potential they will be exposed to, the change they need to bring into this world, etc.
In addition to these being good topics for argumentative essay, they can also be very good argumentative speech topics, too!
The Principles of Formatting Academic Papers
Academic papers are normally required to abide by a specific formatting style that is characteristic to the field (APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, etc.). This preference for a given formatting style is primarily dictated by the nature of content and the type of in-text citations, bibliography, page header, or footer format that works best with such content.
Thus, MLA uses the author-page number format for in-text citations and lists the first names of the authors in the bibliography section – this makes it better suited for precisely referencing information in humanitarian subjects, characterized by long works written by one or a very small number of authors.
By contrast, APA uses its author-year format and is thus better suited for sciences. Mentioning the year as part of in-text citations makes it easy to visualize the chronology of research cited in the paper. At the same time, APA collapses first names in the bibliography section which is very handy when the number of authors is big which is often the case for scientific publications. Finally, providing page numbers in this case makes less sense given that scientific publications are typically short and often published in online documents without explicit numbering.
To take a shortcut and save lots of time, you could download and use templates for the appropriate formatting styles. The most basic elements required by a given format would be accounted for in these templates: margins, font size, page headers, indentation, first level and second level headings, format of bibliography sources, page numbering, occasionally, footnotes and endnotes, title pages, etc.
How to Prepare Your Essay
There are multiple steps you should take in order to write essay of excellent quality.
- Research your argumentative essay ideas
There are multiple steps you should take in order to write essay of excellent quality.
- Research your argumentative essay ideas
Whatever topic you choose, you are going to have to do some reading up on it, because chances are that you don’t know as much about the subject as you think you do.
The best research strategy is to find five reputable sources that support your argumentative essay ideas, and read them each while taking down annotations on the sections you find relevant. For each source you use, write down the title of the book, the name of the author, and the publishing information, as well as the page numbers which you took information from. This will come in handy when you are putting together your bibliography.
In order to organize your thoughts, you should engage in a brainstorming exercise called pre-writing. Get out a piece of paper and a pen and start scribbling down every thought related to your project. Go through this list you’ve created and eliminate any idea you wrote down that you believe won’t help you, and keep those you can use. Eventually you will have a list of words and sentences that you can use to formulate the text of your essay.
Outlining is when you organize your text before you begin writing. On a blank piece of paper, write your thesis statement down, and underneath it, write small sentences that summarize what you want to say for each paragraph in your main body. As for your conclusion, write a small sentence in plain language that restates your argument, demands a call-to-action, or leaves a warning. When you have a completed argumentative essay outline, you will have a step-by-step guide that you can follow until you are done writing.
Once you begin writing about your argumentative research paper topic or social issues essay topic, follow the structure you wrote down as best as you can, but at the same time, don’t be a slave to it. You are the master of your work, and if you believe that you should try something different in your paper than what you have written in your outline, by all means do it.
Do not do all of your writing on the same day. Work on your project a little bit at a time so that you don’t have to cram to get everything done at the last minute. If you have to write your entire essay in one day, do your best to give yourself breaks so that you don’t burn out.
When you are done with your essay, you must not only check it for grammatical errors, but it must also be checked for logical fallacies
To sum up, when writing your argumentative essay, you would typically do the following: identify reliable sources addressing the topic, write down all relevant bibliographic details to identify the sources later; research your question search for evidence supporting your arguments and refuting or supporting your counterarguments, take notes in the process. brainstorm for ideas to be included in the paper; outline the structure of the essay; do the writing; and proofreading.
Every professor pays attention on the structure of the submitted essay, especially argumentative one. That is why you should master it and be confident while writing texts. Here is a basic argumentative essay structure for you to follow:
The introduction is where you introduce your topic to the reade. Here you should write a thesis statement, a one to two sentence statement that summarizes the position you will take in your essay. Do not start from the behind, be logical, narrow down your thought and be straightforward. Thesis statement is the most important part of an essay as it shows your position regarding the topic. Demonstrate your attitude towards the topic and support it with the arguments in the body paragraphs.
- Main body
Here you must present valid evidence to support whatever claim you made in your thesis statement. Place this information in this part of your composition in a manner that seems logical to you, and also make sure you are presenting your supporting facts in a manner that your audience can understand. Start every paragraph with a topic sentence, that supports the thesis. Continue with the evidence you found in outside sources. You can provide a direct quotation or paraphrasing. Remember to cite it properly in order to avoid any plagiarism accusations. Later on, interpret this piece of evidence, show how you understand it and how it relates to the topic you disclose. Continue the paragraph with the concluding sentence, providing a short summary of the paragraph along with a transition to the next passage of the essay.
After presenting the evidence for your argumentative essay topic and backing up your claims, you must then refute the arguments of your opponent. Use evidence such as statistics and expert opinion that contradicts and disproves the position of your opponent. Do not be afraid that it will worsen your own position regarding chosen topic. In contrast, it’ll help demonstrating your ability to contradict arguments of the opponents and stick to your opinion.
Once you have presented your evidence and have refuted the positions of those holding an opposing viewpoint, it is time to write your conclusion. You can do several things with your conclusion. You can restate your argument, which is a very common practice amongst essayists. You might also consider calling on your audience to engage in a specific action or behavior - a call-to-action. Also, you can leave your audience with a warning, telling them that there might be dire consequences if they do not take your arguments seriously.
What are the 5 parts of an argumentative essay?
A standard argumentative essay could consists of 5 parts/ paragraphs: a paragraph containing the thesis (the claim), 2 paragraphs with supporting arguments/ evidence, a paragraph listing potential counterarguments along with their rebuttal, and a paragraph with a persuasive conclusion.
Tips for Choosing Good Argumentative Essay Topics
Which idea should you go for? Theoretically speaking, we can say that the sky is the limit; however, there should be certain guidelines while deciding on your next brilliant idea to write about in your upcoming essay or paper.
- It Should Be Interesting:
The idea of your next piece of writing should be debatable. This means that you should be able to do the necessary research to find different opinions concerning the idea you have chosen. This topic should be interesting to you, your professor and the audience who will most likely read or listen to your essay. It is difficult to write about a topic that you personally find boring or dull. Since you have an opportunity, you should use it wisely. The more interesting your idea is, the better you will be able to write about it. You should also make sure that you have the knowledge needed to work on your writing. Being able to choose your own idea gives you a good chance to excel.
- Avoid Using Pure Facts:
An interesting argument essay should be controversial. You shouldn’t depend on pure facts because the purpose of your assignment is expressing an opinion. College and school students might be tempted to rely on facts, but to make a good argument, you should state what you think. Researching to find appropriate argumentative essay ideas will take some time but is totally worth it. You should also do some brainstorming to be able to come up with relevant evidence to include in your task.
- Your Topic Shouldn’t be Too Wide:
When you look for controversial topics, you might be tempted to choose subjects that are way too broad to discuss. This can be a real problem when you are writing because you will get lost. The more specific your essay or paper is, the better the quality of your writing will be. A very wide topic is going to be confusing for you as well as your audience.
- You Shouldn’t be Biased:
There are a lot of issues that typically interest you. But while picking one, make sure that you don’t have extremely strong feelings towards it. When you are working on the proposal of your writing, try to choose a subject that is not too sensitive and touches you on a personal level. The purpose of your writing is to provide your audience with a persuasive piece of writing. By picking the right subject and working on your thesis statement, your essay will have relevant evidence that makes it worth reading.
- Work on your Evidence:
Just because you believe in something doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good enough to be included in your writing. It is crucial to back yourself up with the adequate supportive pieces of evidence to make a valid point of view. You should spend the time to do adequate research to provide enough evidence for your opinion and the opposing one at the same time. This proves that you have worked hard to support your argument by using reliable information.
- You can Take the Risk:
Topics for argumentative essay should be special and unique. This is your chance to stand and pick something that others might have tried to avoid. Don’t be scared to take the risk if it is properly calculated. Common themes are way too boring and will not deliver the message you mean to send to your audience. But if you are going to choose a unique and controversial topic, you should make sure that you can provide enough information. Include enough data to argue for both sides of the argument.
Read also: 60 Narrative Essay Topics for Students
Use Our Argumentative Essay Ideas and Tips to Get Higher Grades
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