LE2120 Assignment (3,000 words)

PLEASE NOTE: If you are referred in this assessment, you should choose different texts to your original submission.


Task Details/Description:

You must design and produce a case study that researches an aspect of language in the news media.


There are three basic starting points you might take in deciding on your focus:


  1. Issue / topic

You may choose to focus on a particular (set of) event(s) and how the event(s) was/were reported in the news media.


  1. Medium

You may choose to focus on a (comparison of) particular kind(s) of news production (print / TV / radio / internet).


  1. Aspects of structure

You may focus on particular linguistic features that are typical of news stories.


However, the only constraining criteria on the particular question you choose to investigate are that:


(a) you must analyse language data drawn from the news media;

(b) your analysis must include an element of linguistic focus, not just discussion of content.


Examples of project topics

Some suggestions below include detail of some of the comparative contexts in which you might investigate a particular aspect of news media. To avoid repetition, I haven’t repeated this detail throughout, but many of the variations continue to be applicable as the list progresses. To a large extent, then, you should feel free to adopt a mix’n’match approach to the contexts and linguistic features mentioned here. But bear in mind that not all potentially interesting features of news are likely to be equally significant in all contexts – or indeed manageable within the confines of this project. Pick a combination (a) that seems intuitively likely to be fruitful and (b) for which you can formulate a reasoned hypothesis as to what you are likely to find.


  1. Issue-based topics might include coverage of:
  • government / presidential elections
  • (Britain’s membership of) Europe
  • immigration
  • terrorism
  • climate change
  • health-related issues such as mental health disorders, obesity, cancer, etc.
  • rights-based movements, such as Black Lives Matter
  • (violent / financial / youth/ gender & sexuality) crime


These are just examples – you may choose another subject. You might collect a series of news stories written about one of these subjects and compare one or more of the following:

  • how different social groups are represented in terms of naming, accessed voices, direct / indirect speech and speech reporting verbs, etc.
  • how different newspapers cover your chosen topic – e.g. content of nucleus; whether similar or different (political) angles are construed by this content selection, voices accessed, etc.
  • how different media cover the same topic (see previous point)
  • how coverage of a topic changes in a single news publication across time


  1. Medium-based topics might include:
  • comparison of, for example, similarities & differences in the way TV &/or radio &/or online &/or print-based media handle speech presentation
  • role of visuals in TV & printed news coverage of the same story
  • evidence of news values in changing TV / radio bulletins through the day’s news cycle – editing, deleting & reordering of items, etc.
  • journalists’ perception of news values / editing practices / news gathering processes – a case study based on a day shadowing a local (student?) newspaper journalist perhaps? (note: this may not be possible in the current circumstances, but it still may be possible to conduct interviews etc. online)


  1. Structural aspects that might be investigated include:
  • Radical editability – you might test out White’s claim that orbital structure means satellites can be re-ordered
  • Intensification – an investigation / comparison of patterns of intensification in, for example, Event Stories vs Issues Reports; or of broadcast / print / online media coverage of the same stories
  • Layout in different papers’ / news websites’ coverage of the same story
  • Comparison of different papers’ coverage of the same stories in terms of either Bell’s discourse model or White’s orbital model
  • A comparison of whether Bell’s model of discourse structure or White’s model of orbital structure give a better account of the same (set of) text(s)


Please do remember that these are just suggestions, intended to stimulate rather than restrain your imagination. The overriding theme of them, though, is an important one:


  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew in such a small project
  • Focus on specific aspects and contexts from the outset


It’s better (and easier!) to concentrate your research question on a limited range of linguistic features and specific section / aspect of news texts, which you can then investigate in some detail. Remind yourself that although the suggested word count of your project may appear dauntingly large at the outset of your investigation, you’ll almost certainly find it seems to shrink very rapidly once you start writing…


Module Learning Outcomes Assessed:

Students will be able to demonstrate:

  1. an understanding of the main ways in which print, online and broadcast news is socially constructed and mediated;
  2. familiarity with one or more specialised approaches to the analysis of media discourse;
  3. the theoretical and analytical skills to enable them to carry out their own critical analysis of news texts; and
  4. time management and independent study skills in planning and producing an original case study of a clearly delineated media issue or text type to a deadline.



Presentation Requirements:

For this assignment you are asked to write a 3,000-word analytical case study.


Your case study must be focused on one (or more) of the topics we have studied in Language in the News Media, although you may choose any particular context, as explained above.


This assessment tests your understanding of the subject matter and develops your ability to design and undertake a small-scale research project, building towards the ability to work independently on a major dissertation project in your Final Year. Appendices and references are not included in word count.


Submission Date & Time: 


Assessment Weighting for the Module:



Assessment Criteria

  • Knowledge of Subject (topic/theory)
  • Critical Awareness (selection and application of theory and critical thought)
  • Argument and Structure (organization, relevance, addressing key aims)
  • Expression, Presentation and Referencing
  • Methodology and Data Collection


Additionally, your essay will be assessed on the following six criteria:


  1. The strength and clarity of your argument, which fulfils the assessment brief.
  2. Your ability to close read and to pay attention to how language shapes meaning.
  3. The clarity of your writing and logical organisation of your case study.
  4. Your ability to use sources to support your argument.
  5. Your ability to cite all sources correctly and provide a full list of References using the Harvard style guide system with in-text citations.
  6. The general professionalism of your case study: formal writing style, no typos, correct grammar, the inclusion of an essay title and page numbers.


Ethical Requirements

It is not expected that you will need to use any research methods that would require ethical approval. The data you collect and analyse should be in the public domain.


Essential Reading for Coursework Task

(if in addition to reading provided in the module outline):

You will find some relevant references on the module outline which you can use to start the project. However, you need to do your own research and look for more evidence to use for the project.