You’ve spent quite a bit of time in your English classes writing argumentative essays. You’ve even gotten pretty good at writing on the topics your instructor assigns. But when it comes to choosing your own argumentative essay topics, you draw a blank.
It’s not that there aren’t any good topics to choose from. It’s that you start over-thinking it, wondering if each topic is too cliche, overdone, or just not good enough.
Chances are, all you need to do is relax and find a topic you’re passionate about and, of course, one that’s debatable.
Why Pick Debatable Argumentative Essay Topics?
The name of the essay says it all—argumentative. It would be a lot easier to write an essay on something that people generally agree on, certainly. But that’s not really the point of an argumentative essay.
It’s important to choose debatable argumentative essay topics. You need opposing points that you can counter with your own points.
The world isn’t black and white—there are a lot of gray areas. This is good because it means there are a lot of topics you can choose from.
I’ve listed 70 argumentative essay topics below, phrased as questions, to help get you started. I’ve separated the topics into five categories—legal, moral, social, media, and family. And I’ve even included a helpful link for each topic.
Feel free to use the topics for your own essay or as inspiration to create your own original topic.
14 Legal Argumentative Essay Topics
Argumentative essay topics about legal matters are a popular choice. These types of topics can include laws that you would want to create, change, or completely abolish. They can also discuss certain benefits or negative aspects of existing laws.
You don’t have to get super technical with legal argumentative essays. But you do need to do your research on what the current laws about your chosen topic actually say.
After all, you don’t want to suggest a changing a law that’s already been changed in the way you want.
- Should cigarettes and other tobacco products be outlawed?
- Should prostitution be legal?
- Do the benefits of medical marijuana justify its legality?
- Is the drinking age appropriate (should it be lower, higher, or stay the same)?
- Should nuclear weapons be outlawed worldwide?
- Should the United States put more restrictions on gun ownership and use?
- At what age should girls have access to birth control without the consent of their parents?
- Should cellphone use be banned while driving?
- Does outlawing controlled substances only create a larger black market?
- Should corporations be granted personhood?
- Should juveniles be sentenced to life in prison?
- In what situations, if any, does a woman have a right to an abortion?
- Should restaurants be required to include calories on all menu items?
- Should an added tax be placed on sugary drinks, such as sodas?
14 Moral Argumentative Essay Topics
Moral argumentative essay topics are some of the easiest to get carried away with. They can cover a variety of moral dilemmas, from animal testing to the death penalty.
These topics tend to be very debatable because people have different opinions—and justifications for those opinions—on what they think is right or wrong.
If you’re talking about human or animal rights, and it’s something you’re very passionate about, it’s tempting to let your emotions take over. While it’s good to be passionate in an argumentative essay, remember to keep your thoughts focused and organized.
It’s definitely worth your time to create an outline. It helps ensure you don’t stray off topic. If you need help crafting an outline, review these two resources:
- Is animal testing necessary?
- Should consumers buy items from countries that endorse child labor?
- Do patients have a right to die via physician-assisted suicide?
- Should children’s beauty pageants be banned?
- Are nude photographs appropriate in museums that are open to the public?
- Should schools and businesses give more incentives for people to do volunteer work?
- Are atheists less moral than theists?
- Does freedom of speech give people the right to use hate speech?
- Do people who commit heinous crimes deserve the death penalty?
- Do pre-employment drug tests infringe on personal privacy rights?
- Should employees be able to have visible tattoos in the workplace?
- Are cameras in public places an invasion of privacy?
- Should teens be allowed to have cosmetic surgery?
- Should Dreamers be allowed to stay in the United States?
14 Social Argumentative Essay Topics
Social argumentative essay topics tend to overlap with legal and moral topics. But argumentative topics deal more about how individuals act within society and what kinds of pressures society puts on individuals or groups of people.
This is a pretty broad category. There are a lot of topics to choose from and even more that you could create on your own. If you get stuck on which topic to write about, consider something that personally affects you or someone close to you.
This should make writing about that topic come more naturally. Just be sure to rely on facts and not on personal anecdotes. Such anecdotes are more appropriate to the narrative essay realm.
Remember, even though you may be writing about something that affects you personally, the argument essay isn’t usually the place for first person point of view. Most argumentative research papers require you to use third person.
- Is there too much pressure on teenagers to go to college?
- At what age should citizens be allowed to vote in the United States?
- Should more rights be given to immigrants?
- Can heterosexual men and women truly be friends with no hopes or expectations of anything more?
- In what case(s) could it be considered fair for a company to not hire a candidate who smokes cigarettes?
- Should the United States make English the official national language?
- Should women wear less-revealing clothing in order to curb men’s catcalling?
- Do prisoners deserve the right to vote?
- Should there be a legal curfew for minors?
- Can online dating replace meeting a person in real life?
- Does social media create isolation?
- Should welfare recipients be required to submit to drug tests?
- Should adoptive parents be given some form of maternity leave?
- Can video games be a useful learning tool?
14 Advertising and Media Argumentative Essay Topics
Advertising and the media have become nearly inseparable from society as a whole. Essays written on these topics can include various angles.
For instance, you could look at how media (television, news, movies, magazines, social media, etc.) affects society. But you could also look at what should be allowed to be seen or heard through media and advertisements.
Inspiration to create your own advertising or media argumentative essay topics isn’t hard to find. Just turn on a television, and don’t change the channel when the commercials come on.
Pay close attention to all things electronic. You’ll be sure to find something debatable about what you see.
- Should sex be allowed to be portrayed on prime time television?
- Where should networks draw the line for violence on television?
- Should news shows talk about celebrities?
- Do journalists have a duty to eliminate as much bias as possible?
- Is it acceptable for companies to advertise in schools?
- In what situations should advertisements for alcohol and tobacco products be allowed?
- Should warnings and side effects be made more clear in advertisements?
- Is print advertising obsolete?
- Do TV shows and movies have the responsibility of being more diverse?
- Are public service announcements effective?
- Do photoshopped images affect self-image and self-esteem?
- Do reality shows, such as Teen Mom, glorify teen pregnancy?
- Does the media create unrealistic expectations of relationships and marriage?
- Does the media attempt to create hype to influence or scare the public?
14 Family Argumentative Essay Topics
Argumentative essay topics covering family life and values are abundant. That’s because every family is different. Rules in families vary on a case-by-case basis, contrary to laws that govern a state or nation.
Because each family is different, it’s hard to generalize in this type of essay.
However, there’s a ton of research on child development and psychology, marital psychology, and personal stories from parents and their children. You can get enough information to make an argument for any of the topics below (or for a topic of your own).
Not sure where to find sources? Check out 5 Best Sources to Help With Writing a Research Paper.
- At what age should parents talk to their children about sex?
- Do children deserve/need an allowance?
- Is it okay for parents to monitor teens’ Internet use?
- Should parents be able to spank their children?
- Is it acceptable for women to breastfeed in public?
- Should parenting classes be compulsory?
- Should parents push their kids into extracurricular activities, such as music or sports?
- Are children’s rooms really theirs, or do the rooms “belong” to parents’?
- Should single people be able to adopt children as easily as couples?
- Should same-sex couples be allowed to adopt children as easily as heterosexual couples?
- Which parenting style is most effective?
- Should parents pay children for good grades?
- How does helicopter parenting harm (or help) kids?
- At what age should children be allowed to have a cellphone?
Final Thoughts on Choosing Argumentative Essay Topics
As you can see, there are a lot of debatable argumentative essay topics you can choose from (way more than are on this list).
For more ideas, read these posts:
Need to narrow down a broad topic into something more manageable? Read How to Narrow a Topic and Write a Focused Paper.
And if you’d like a few more argument essay tips, take a look these posts:
Once you’re ready to come up with a thesis, check out these argumentative thesis statement examples.
Not sure what a completed argument essay should look like? Read 2 Argumentative Essay Examples With a Fighting Chance.
When picking your topic, keep in mind that it’s much easier to write about something that you already have interest in. In fact, that’s true even if you don’t know a whole lot about it. Researching the topic will allow you to learn more about what fascinates you.
And if you pick something you actually like, writing the essay will be more enjoyable.
If you’ve wrapped up your argument but think there may be a few holes in your logic, send your essay over to the Kibin editors. They’ll help give you the winning edge in whatever you’re debating.
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.
The assignment asks your group to make an interpretive argument via a short film of 4-5 minutes.
Assumptions for this assignment
- the video essay makes an argument about subject matter
- the argument is an instance of communication and should be easy to understand
- the argument is supported with clear and specific evidence
How To Go About Making Your Video Essay
Part 1: Draft Topic and Argument
- You and your group members should brainstorm a topic (a film genre, an important/weird/interesting film, a director, a plot device, a stylistic technique) and explain why you are interested in your topic.
- Example: Wes Anderson’s costumes; the cult film Troll 2; Bourne’s action sequences; the portrayal of women in slasher films
- You should then describe what your argument about your topic will be.
- Example: By depicting over-the-top gore while also referencing film history, Quentine Tarantino challenges audiences to reconsider what makes a “quality” film. OR Over time, the editing of Bourne’s action sequences increase in speed, suggesting an audience increasingly familiar with and bored by the genre.
PART 2: ARGUMENT/FORMAT.
All five of these should be addressed/included in your final project. Turn in your group’s responses to these questions and a short annotated bibliography.
- Introduction: what will your classmates need to know to get them oriented to your video essay? Consider your audience’s likely level of knowledge/familiarity; are you working on something famous or something a bit more niche?
- Thesis: what will you be arguing in your video?
- Reasons: why are things as you say they are in your thesis? What are the underpinning ideas/theories that must be demonstrated?
- Supporting evidence: what specific scenes and shots will you discuss? What filmic techniques are most important to point out? (While it may be necessary to focus more on certain formal elements than others, the video essay should touch on all four major stylistic elements of film art: mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, sound.) What can you include from your research?
- Conclusion: what do you want your audience to take away from this essay? How should we consider your film, genre, director, etc. differently?
- Annotated Bibliography
- Using MLA Style, write citations for a minimum of the following three source types:
- An interview
- A scholarly article
- A non-filmic item of your choice
- Annotate each entry with 3-5 sentences explaining why the source will be useful to you/how it supports your work.
PART 3: Style/Aesthetics
- The video essay itself
- The projects should be aesthetically pleasing. You should consider formal issues in addition to content (consider the following: image, voice, pacing, text, sound, music, montage, rhythm, edits/transitions, etc). Edits/transitions should be clean, functioning as guideposts leading the viewer from one point to another.
- All evidence should clearly relate to the thesis. There should be no question of why you are presenting a given clip.
- Formal elements/quantity: while it may be necessary to focus more on certain formal elements than others, the video essay should touch on all four major stylistic elements of film art (mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, sound)
- Accuracy. All formal elements should be accurately identified and discussed.
- Short supplemental essay: This 2-3 page paper should explain decisions you made in organizing your video essays. Why did you select certain clips or ignore others? How did your thesis and/or other ideas change over the course of the project? What became important to you to communicate as you learned more about your topic? What creative ideas did you attempt in your efforts to communicate your interpretation?
Grading Rubric For Interpretive Video Essay
Proposal (2% of course grade).
Overview (8% of course grade)
In each section of each category, you will be scored as follows:
5: Expert/Excellent; 4: Advanced/Good; 3.75: Basic/Satisfactory; 3: Needs Work 2: Barely Acceptable 1: Unacceptable 0: Missing
Video Essay: Basics 20%
ON TIME: The video essay should be submitted by the exam period.
TITLE: Preceding the video should be a title that draws the viewer in and reflects the creators’ argument.
NARRATION: Some form of narration (whether audio or text) should guide the viewer through the video.
LENGTH: About 4.5 minutes (not underdeveloped, not excessive), indicating the creators’ have control over the argument.
VIDEO ESSAY: ARGUMENT, EXECUTION, ETC. 40%
THE THESIS: should be easy to locate, arguable, clearly stated, and able to be supported with evidence.
FORMAL ELEMENTS: While it may be necessary to focus more on some than others, the video essay should touch on all four stylistic elements of film art (mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, sound).
ACCURACY: The video essay should accurately identify the formal elements throughout the video essay.
QUALITY: All evidence should relate to the thesis; there should be no question about its purpose or significance.
STYLE: The project should be aesthetically pleasing. The author should consider formal issues in addition to content (i.e. the group must consider ideas of image, voice, pacing, text, soung, music, montage, rhythm, etc.). Edits/transitions should be clean, fucntioning as guideposts, leading the viewer from one point to another. Sound should be loud enough that the viwewer doesn’t have to strain to hear.
SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT BASICS 10 %
ON TIME: To be submitted in person at the beginning of the final exam period
LENGTH: roughly 2-3 pages (not underdeveloped, not excessive
FILM TITLES (and titles of TV shows, books, newspapers, journals, websites) should be italicized. The DIRECTOR/RELEASE DATE should be placed in parentheses the first time the film is cited. ACTORS’ names should be placed in parentheses the first time a character is mentioned
SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT: ARGUMENT, EXECUTION, ETC. 30 %
CONTENT/GOAL: This paper should serve as an accompaniement to your visual presentation and a continuation of your argument., It should include pertinent evidence/information, images, dialogue, etc. the video essay may have omitted because of the time constraint (e.g. why you selected certain clips/images and ignored others, why you took on the argument you did, and what others might say in response)> You might also consider the project’s aesthetics : the ordering, shot/scene transitions used, background music and narration style chosen, etc. and how these decisions support the thesis and the overall scope of the video essay.
CONCLUSION: The essay should sum up the project and ask the viewer to think furhtere abou the film (s), messages, etc.
A BIBLIOGRAPHY: The bibliography should be included either at the end of the video essay or the report. It should use correct MLA style
GRAMMAR, PUNCTUATION, ETC.: Responses should be free of mechanical, syntactical, grammatical, and punctuation errors that make it difficult and tedious to read. Also, topic sentences and transition words should function as guideposts, leading the reader from one point to another.
______ Total Project Grade