Usage of gender neutral language: When referring to groups (eg. “scientists”) or generic individuals (eg. “a scientist”) in contexts where gender is irrelevant, or when referring to individuals that do not self-identify as either male or female, a professionally written academic essay should avoid usage of gendered language. (When referring to specific individuals with a clear, known gender, gendered language is of course appropriate.) The stance of the RWTH Aachen with respect to gender neutral language can be found in this booklet (unfortunately only in German). A useful guide towards avoiding gender language in the above and other cases can be found here.
Layout guide: LaTeX takes care of the layout for you. For MS Word see useful guide by Matthias Brinkmann. Invest an hour, and it will pay off for the rest of your academic career (and outside of that). More importantly, it will make your teacher (i.e. me) very happy. A great lay-out can have a substantive positive influence on the structure and readability of your essay.
Essay Writing Checklist: You are advised to use this when writing your (first) essays; either use it just by yourself, or hand it in to me with the essay.
Essay Feedback Abbreviations: I will sometimes use abbreviations from David Wallace’s list when giving written feedback on essays. This list represents most of the common mistakes made by essay writers. I advise you to have a look through this list before writing an essay, as it may significantly improve your style and structure.