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EML102 Research Skills Guide: Understanding your assignment topic (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. Charles Sturt University has a list of explanations for common instruction words.

Let's use the following topic as an example:

Computers have had a significant impact on education in the 21st century.
Discuss the changes they have made.


Instruction words Discuss
Qualifying words & phrases 21st century
Key concepts computers, education


It is useful to identify the key concepts you are being asked to research before you start searching for information. Doing a topic analysis will help you understand the question.

Watch the video tutorial below to learn more about topic analysis.