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CUS101 Research Skills Guide: Keywords (Topic Analysis)

Topic Analysis

A topic analysis will help you to clarify and understand what your assessment question is asking you to do.

You will generally be given three key pieces of information:

  1. The key topic or concept words direct you in what to research.
  2. The limits or qualifiers tell you the specific focus of the topic or concept.
  3. The task or instruction terms tell how you are to deal with the content. Check this list of explanations for common instruction words.

Your CUS101 Assessment 3 task requires you to :

Source a media article dealing with a contemporary (last 24 months) border management issue (eg. importation of illicit narcotics or other prohibited goods, CITES issues, illegal fishing, intellectual property rights infringements, revenue leakage, quarantine/health, people smuggling etc)

  • Identify the relevant facets of this particular incident or issue, and the challenges faced by border management agencies when addressing this type of problem. Consideration should be given to the impact of this problem in both domestic and international terms.
  • Following analysis and further research of the identified issue outline the strategies that border agencies can utilize when dealing with this specific type of problem.

Your response is to be centred around the issue identified in the selected media article and to be addressed in a border management context

Instruction words source, identify, analyse, outline
Qualifying words & phrases contemporary (last 24 months), domestic, international
Key concepts border management, challenges*

* you will need to include keywords relevant to the issue from your chosen article, and the specific challenges the issue presents.


Write down the key concepts from your topic and have a go at brainstorming as many alternative keywords and phrases as possible.

Thinking about your topic in this way forces you to describe your topic in "other words", which will provide you with some useful keyword alternatives as well as help you to cement your understanding of the topic.

Topic analysis

Find additional keywords

Dictionaries and encyclopaedias can help you to find additional keywords and get an overview of the concept.

Oxford Reference Online is a huge repository of subject-specific dictionaries, encyclopaedias, and other reference-type material.

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