30 Professor Recommended Discursive Essay Topics (Updated for 2019)

discursive essay topics
  • Published Date: September 25, 2018

Writing on your choice of discursive essay topics gives you the rare opportunity to walk the fine line that separates a discursive essay from its close cousins—the argumentative or persuasive essay. While in certain lights, a discursive essay might resemble its relatives, the argumentative or persuasive essay, they are still very distinct. For example, an argumentative essay seeks to convince you of an argument, but a discursive essay seeks to examine the arguments on opposing sides of an issue—with marked detachment.

A discursive essay forces you to look at an issue you might be very passionate about and to approach it with the cool detachment of a surgeon. You need to actively find a way to push your personal opinions aside and examine a topic seeing the validity of two opposing perspectives. Crafting a discursive essay might be a bit more challenging, but the entire process serves to elevate your level of writing. This is because you are forced to examine and explain the validity of viewpoints you might personally disagree with. This pushes a level of higher emotional maturity into your writing and helps to expand your perspective regarding the overall complexity of the world. You might find that after writing a discursive essay, you don’t object as strongly to divergent viewpoints over controversial topics.


Discursive Essay Topics

Grade 8 Topics

#1 Is college still necessary to be very successful in life?

For the longest time, getting a college degree has been viewed as crucial stepping-stone in life on the path to reaching one’s full potential. However, now in the digital age, more and more entrepreneurs are getting started in high school, creating their own empires on social media and branding their own goods and services. Perhaps geniuses like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, who both ultimately dropped out of college were showing society how unnecessary this institution is. Discuss.

#2 Should text message acronyms (lol, smh, yolo) be included in dictionaries?

It seems as though the vocabulary base of digital messaging grows bigger everyday and that young people are rapidly finding ways to communicate directly and efficiently through the use of acronyms. Do these digital acronyms represent a “dumbing down” of language or should they be embraced and entered officially into dictionaries. Explain.

#3 Is it better to meet your husband/wife later or earlier in life?

The media has definitely romanticized the idea of high school sweethearts as being an ideal relationship to grow old in. Is this really the best iteration of true love or a relationship? Discuss the pros and cons of finding love later and earlier in life.

#4 Should parents be brutally honest with their kids?

For the last few decades, common parenting wisdom has dictated that there are certain truths about the world that aren’t appropriate for children of all ages. This has created a multitude of scenarios where parents will sugarcoat facts about reality to their children, leading them to learn harsh realities later on in life. Is this common practice best for raising the most self-aware children or is brutal honesty the best way to acquaint children to the world at large?

#5 Do you think soda should be banned in public schools?

A host of negative health impacts are connected to the consumption of soda from obesity to tooth decay. Does this mean it has no place near children in public schools or is it just a harmless treat in moderation? Discuss.

Sports Topics

#6 Cheerleading: Valid sport or another way to objectify young women?

Cheerleading is viewed by many as offering a valuable skillset to young women, a healthy experience with competition and lessons in teamwork. Others view cheerleading as the subjugation of young women to the sidelines in support of male victory. Discuss.

#7 Animal sports such as bull fighting and horse racing are just as barbaric as cock fighting or dog fighting and should be banned.

As society continues to evolve, more and more citizens are becoming deeply concerned with the rights of animals and how people treat them. This has caused certain animal- centered sports to receive new scrutiny. Are such sports the remaining relics of antiquated and barbaric traditions or mere harmless fun? Discuss.


#8 University sports departments should have a fixed budget, not to exceed a small percentage of yearly revenue.

Universities have a moral and legal obligation to focus on academics first of all. This priority is something often undermined by the fat budgets and excessive spending of athletic departments. Should all athletic departments have a fixed budget (not to exceed 5-10% of the annual budget) or is it important for universities known for sports (such as ones like Notre Dame) to be given the freedom to allocate their budgets as they see fit, empowering them to them attract big donations from alumni? Discuss.

#9 The wage gap between genders in professional sports should be immediately abolished by law.

In a perfect world, everyone would earn the same amount of money and there would be no one who was poor nor homeless. However, our society views certain jobs/roles as more valuable and as able to offer a bigger return for the tasks they complete. Is the pay gap between genders a reflection of a still antiquated and misogynist society, or simply a reflection of the bigger market for male athletes? Discuss.

#10 Athletes are the best/worst role models for children.

Athletes show the power of hard work, perseverance and facing one’s fears. On the other hand, they can also demonstrate overly-competitiveness, ruthlessness, obsessiveness and over-commercialism. Discuss how athletes are both the best and worst role models for children.

Music Topics

#11 Does violence or misogyny in song lyrics desensitize members of society to these forces or are these references innocuous? Discuss.

Many song lyrics contain some rather disturbing misogynist suggestions or racial epithets that are not the hallmark of a healthy society. Is this harmless creative expression or factors that continue to promote inequality, injustice and marginalization of women and minorities?

#12 The music industry transformed from one focused on album sales to one which focuses on song sales and streaming. Which business platform was better for the creation of great music?

The music industry was built on the fact that consumers had no choice but to buy entire albums. Now consumers have more choices and can purchase songs or stream them, allowing them to save money and just purchase what they really, truly want to own. Have these changes in the market created better or worse music?

#13 Most musicians just have a few hits in them that they are capable of making. The bulk of their work is mediocre.

One could argue that only a small handful of artists are able to produce music that is critically acclaimed and a popular success, year after year. Others argue there are lots of musicians all over the world capable of creating hit music, they just aren’t able to receive the same level of exposure as those at the top. Discuss.

#14 Music can be powerfully transformative in improving one’s mood or is it merely a distraction from one’s problems and the monotony of life?

Science has long studied the mood enhancing impacts of music. Are these effects really as concrete and beneficial as one would like to think or are they a simple distraction for the brain, akin to television? Explore.

#15 Do you think the best music was founded in social oppression? Discuss.

Many believe that art is at its greatest incarnation when it addresses some form of injustice. Many believe some of the greatest music every written does exactly that. Is this the case or does great music simply center on human experience, both good and bad? Explain.

2018 / Current Events Topics

#16 Trump is a manifestation of the end of corruption in politics or the fullest realization of corruption politics. Discuss.

Trump might be one of the most polarizing presidents this country has ever known. His platform was to “drain the swamp” meaning rid Washington D.C. of the corrupt politicians so many Americans have tired of. Is this what he has achieved or is he a representation of the furthest extent of corruption? Explain.

#17 Separating children from their parents at the border (if their parents have tried to cross illegally) is inhumane or standard policy for crime and punishment. Discuss.

The Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents was an issue that caused the most bitter debates all over the nation. Some viewed it as the obvious consequence of a crime committed. Others viewed it as inhuman and a manifestation of a policy that bordered on scathing totalitarianism. Explore.

#18 Social media in contributing to a more narcissistic society.

For all the benefits that social media provides us with (making friends, finding support, discovering new places, sharing moments from life) it does cause the individual to forge a hyper-awareness of themselves, their image and appearance. Some might argue this leads to narcissism, insecurity and a tendency to compare oneself to others. Still others might object, asserting it just creates a healthy level of self-awareness. Explore and discuss.

#19 Transgender people should compete in sports of their original gender not their transferred or selected gender.

Experts in development have long argued that when someone transfers from one gender to another, they should attempt to fully embrace the new gender in all scenarios. A male transitioning to female should use female bathrooms, pick a female name and compete in female sports, if desired. Others argue that such a heavy-handed policy creates massive unfairness on the playing field and in other forms of athletic competition. Explore the best options for transgender students.

#20 Internet pornography is a healthy outlet for exploring eroticism or a devastating perversity leading to addiction and violence against women.

The porn of the digital age is unlike anything the human body or mind has ever been exposed to. The enormous variety and extremity of the porn available is so immense that it has the power to create addictions overnight or to help people find a healthy, safe outlet to explore their erotic inclinations. Discuss.

Higher English Topics

#21 Studying Shakespeare is obsolete in today’s world. Discuss.

While modern day scholars have lauded the plays of Shakespeare, the style of writing is so inaccessible that one might argue many of his plays are just over-hyped tedious tales. Others would strongly object, asserting these plays tell timeless tales of the more eternal aspects of human existence, such as justice, revenge, hope, love, and victory. Explain.

#22 Advanced English classes should include slang, including slang from song lyrics. Discuss.

Some may argue that slang is temporal, and while it is hip and beloved by the young, not necessary for mastery of the English language. Others would disagree, saying that mastery of current slang is precisely what makes or breaks someone’s advanced English skills.

#23 British English is the purest and most elegant manifestation of the English language.

Learning the “Queen’s English” gives one’s language skills an undeniable touch of class. Others might disagree, calling such a notion antiquated and out of touch with modern times. Discuss.

#24 Speaking and listening are the most important aspects of learning any foreign language: writing is the least important.

Speaking and listening skills are precisely what empowers one to go out into the world with one’s foreign language skills—to any degree of success. Writing is the least important, particularly with the advent of voice dictation on smart phones. Many linguists disagree, asserting that writing is the exact skill which helps connect speaking and listening. Explore.

#25 English is one of the hardest/easiest languages to learn. Discuss.

Some English language learners argue that even though English is founded in Latin, its host of borrowed words means its has irregular verb tenses and odd spelling rules. However, compared to so many other languages English is easy: there are no cases, no genders and the subject verb agreement is often to pick up.  Explore this issue.

Provocative Topics

#26 Should medicating kids for ADHD be outlawed?

For children with ADHD, their lives can feel like chaos. Medication is a quick fix but is it the best one? Some experts argue treatments like meditation, supplements, time in nature and limitation of the television should be used first instead. Explore.

#27 Do all religions create an us vs. them mentality?

Religion offers many people a sense of something greater and a respite from the demands of the physical world, along with a sense of safety and security. Others might argue it is another manmade faction in the world that promotes divisiveness. Explore.

#28 The gaming world promotes problematic gender and racial stereotypes. Discuss.

The game world, while exciting and enticing for so many, has helped to promote deeply troubling representations of women and ethnic minorities. Is this issue harmless entertainment or does it make a permanent contribution to a damaging problem in society?

#29 Graffiti can be creative expression and/but it is often/never art. Discuss.

Some art scholars celebrate graffiti as a form of art in the streets. Others condemn it as mere creative expression, but not any expression that can actually be considered high art. Explore.

#30 Public schools have a responsibility to teach social-emotional skills like empathy.

This modern era puts pressure on young people in ways that are more intense than any other generation has experienced before. Teaching emotional-social skills gives students immediate benefits, as does society. Others disagree, arguing these things should be left up to the parents. Explore.


Selecting the best out of an array of discursive essay topics will be the first step in creating the most excellent essay that you are capable of writing. When you pick a topic that you are genuinely interested in, it makes the process of conducting research far more engaging. You’ll notice that a lot of these essay topics can be used in an argumentative or persuasive essay, as well. These topics are all controversial and often spark heated debate. However, what makes them fitting for a discursive essay is your treatment of them within the body of your essay text. Regardless of how intensely you feel one way or the other, you still need to force yourself to have the enlightened detachment of a critical scholar. This will allow you to dig deep and explore nuances of each topic that you hadn’t been aware of before.

Finally, if you find yourself hitting a mental brick wall, our writers are always available to offer suggestions, guidance or sample essays for you to use as inspiration. We understand the pressures students are up against and we’ve been assisting for decades.

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