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ISL181/481 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, such as a particular time period or geographic location. There won't always be a limit or qualifier.
  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 one of the ISL181 topics as an example:

Identify and discuss one (or more) social reform(s) introduced by Prophet Muhammad
(pbuh) in the Medina period.

Instruction words Identify, discuss
Qualifying words & phrases Medina period,
Key concepts social reform introduced by Prophet Muhammad


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.

Assessment 3:


This first submission enables you to select your essay topic, conduct your research gathering resources, and draft 1000 words on the topic. Pay attention to your referencing  for both the in-text citations and reference list.