Analysing a topic

You cannot start to analyse a topic until you have a solid idea about the overall meaning or effect of it. With this in mind, you can then begin your analysis. This means breaking it down into its parts to uncover which are the most important in contributing to its overall meaning or effect. An analysis of a thing or idea is, therefore, always well-supported with references to key aspects of the thing itself.

An analysis:

  • explains a thing or idea (such as how it works or how it creates its effect) by referring to the important parts that make it up
  • supports its claims by referring to the findings of the analysis

Context, audience and purpose

As with any writing task, the first thing that you need to do is 'CAP' the task so that you are clear about the style of writing to adopt.

Context

This varies. You might be asked to explain your view of something, or produce a persuasive argument for your case – but it will always need to be done by referring to your analysis of it, using this to support what you claim.

If, for example, you are asked to write a speech to your school’s governing body to discuss the idea of the school offering healthier school meals, you will need to argue your case. For your writing to be analytical, you will need to support your argument by referring to the key parts of your topic. You may also want to consider persuasive techniques.

Exactly what you need to analyse and which 'parts' will be clear from the key words of your assignment.

Audience

The audience is school governors. They will be interested and well-informed adults who know a lot about the school as well as about food. A formal style, using Standard English, will suit this audience and purpose.

Purpose

The purpose is to provide an analysis of advantages and disadvantages of healthier school meals. You will also aim to persuade governors to act on your recommendations. Such persuasion is most likely to succeed if you argue in a balanced way, supporting your points by referring to an analysis of, for example, what 'healthy' means to students and also what it means, say, to doctors and nutritionists.

The purpose is to provide an analysis of advantages and disadvantages of healthier school meals. You will also aim to persuade governors to act on your recommendations. Such persuasion is most likely to succeed if you argue in a balanced way, supporting you points by referring to an analysis of, for example, what 'healthy' means to students and also what it means, say, to doctors and nutritionists.

Staying the sameHealthier
Popular with many studentsBetter selection, especially for vegetarians
Cheap to produce, therefore lower pricesWill improve health and learning
Students won't go out of school for foodHaving both would mean more choice