Communication And Culture Investigation Essay Topics


Thesis information and requirements in Culture, Language and Communication Studies


for MA theses related to Culture, Language and Communication Studies

in the British Culture and History track of the MA in English Programme



1 What is an MA thesis in Culture, Language and Communication Studies?

2 Formal requirements

3 Thesis marking criteria

4 Procedures & deadlines

5 The role of the supervisor

6 Marking

7 Guidelines on content and structure


1 What is an MA thesis in Culture, Language and Communication Studies?


An MA thesis is a serious academic challenge in the form of an analytical piece of writing based on systematic research as opposed to a purely summative/descriptive one. Research may be either empirical or theoretical in nature. In either case it involves the planned and systematic investigation of a particular phenomenon or question (i.e., research seeks to explore phenomena in a disciplined manner to better understand them). The thesis paper in this field should address an issue that is specifically related to culture, language or communication as reflected in and through the use of English either in English speaking cultures or interculturally.



The following are possible – but by no means exclusive – topic areas for theses to be written at DELP:

Intercultural communication;

Intercultural communicative competence;

Culture learning and acculturation;

Exploring culture - Aspects and dimensions of intercultural communication;

Understanding national cultures;

Learning cultures;

The role of culture in learning and communication;

The role of culture in translation;

Developing intercultural competence as English language professionals;

Communication in ESP;

Intercultural business communication;

The use of English in the EU;

Critical discourse analysis;

Cultural discourse analysis;

Social issues/cultural practices and language in English speaking cultures;

Popular culture;

Cultural practices reflected in literature/film/arts;

Intercultural communication reflected in literature/film/arts;

Travelogues: cultural encounters through travelling;

The construction of culture – cultural practices reflected in the media;

Gender and cultural practice;

Gender, identity and language use;


In your thesis you need to:


  • identify a research area you are interested in and limit the aim and scope of the study to a manageable project. The aim of the research may be to explore (or describe patterns of relationships in) phenomena related to the area of culture, language and communication studies. The aim of the research may also be to test specific hypotheses in the field.

  • formulate one or more specific research questions. The objective of the research question(s) is to guide the research and focus the aim of the study.

  • demonstrate your familiarity with the most important literature and theoretical background of the field.

  • demonstrate your awareness of appropriate research tools and justify their use for data collection and analysis. In the case of theoretical research these could be a particular conceptual framework or – if you decide on empirical research – interviews, case studies, questionnaires, observation schedules, etc.

  • collect or select a well-defined and justified set of materials (e.g. a corpus of texts; samples of texts/films/pieces of art) or data (e.g. obtained through questionnaires, interviews, observation, etc.) your analysis will be based on.

  • conduct an analysis based on logical principles and provide a clear presentation of the results as well as a convincing explanation/discussion of these.

  • draw well-founded conclusions demonstrating a deep understanding of the issue examined, in which you also consider possible alternative views and explanations, as well as practical implications and limitations of the study.

  • document all the sources you used properly and follow the APA citation guidelines.

  • use sophisticated academic English.

The extension of the BA thesis into an MA thesis:

As a general rule, your MA thesis may not be the extension of your BA thesis. However, if the topic and the approach allow for extending your earlier research in a novel manner and in a way that promises gaining a considerably deeper  understanding of it, your supervisor and the head of department may give special permission for you to do this. If you want to seek permission to do this, you will have to submit your BA thesis and the referee’s review to your supervisor when starting your consultations about the thesis topic.


2 Formal requirements:


Length:Different types of research require different ways of writing up. Typically, quantitative research is written up in a more compact manner, while a thick description of various details is necessary in a thesis based on qualitative research. Keeping this in mind, the body of the thesis (the text without the abstract, table of contents, notes, references and appendices) should be approximately 100 000-120 000n (50-60 pages). The body of the thesis must be at least 80 000n (40 pages), and must not exceed 140 000 n (70 pages).

Layout:Single or double sided A4 pages printed double spaced in Times New Roman 12pt font. margins: 2.5 cms on three sides, at the gutter: 3.5 cms.

Number of copies to be submitted: 2 copies: 1 hard bound and 1 ring bound copy

The electronic submission of the thesis must be done according to the instructions at:


back to top


3 Thesis marking criteria:


The thesis will be evaluated according to the following criteria:


I. Form (10 points, 40%)


Format (5 points)

Layout:Professional appearance (neatness, spacing, fonts, margins).

Structure:Division into main parts, clarity of organisation, clear structure of chapters and subchapters, headings, paragraphs; exact table of contents; APA reference and citation style;

Language (5 points)

Accuracy (grammar, vocabulary, punctuation, etc.).

Register(appropriate academic style, reader-friendliness, e.g. clarity, sign-posting).

Discourse(clarity of argumentation, cohesion within and transition between paragraphs)


II. Content (15 points, 60%)


Theoretical background/Review of the literature (5 points)

Clear relationship between the research question and the literature survey.

Familiarity with relevant literature and research results (placing the research topic within the development of the field).

A sound proportion of quoted or paraphrased material and the author’s comments or criticism. Not just a patchwork of  ideas.


Analysis (10 points)

Research question(s) and objectives:original, relevant and explicitly formulated.

Materials:a well-specified and justified set of materials

Independence:proof of independent use of academic research tools, providing a critical approach

to the area researched.

Procedures:(of data collection, data analysis and interpretation) clearly and systematically

presented with convincing arguments/justification.

Results:clearly presented (e.g., verbally and in tables, figures, charts or quotes if necessary).

The interpretation of the results is separated from the presentation of the data.

Conclusion:well-supported, convincingly related to the study as a whole, includes consideration of

alternative interpretations and views, draws practical implications from the study (where appropriate).


The conversion of points into marks works out as follows:

21-25 –– 5

17-20 –– 4

14-16 –– 3

10-13 –– 2

  0- 9  –– 1


Regardless of the merits of the paper, the thesis is an automatic fail if:

  • any of the four main criteria (format, language, theoretical background, analysis) are awarded 0 points.

  • plagiarism can be found in the paper. This also entails disciplinary action.


back to top



4 Procedures and deadlines:


General deadlines:

For specific deadlines of the current term, please check the Noticeboard.



Proposal to be signed by supervisor and coordinator (szakfelelős) or deputy at DELP

Who to turn to for the coordinator’s (szakfelelős) signature at DELP

Proposal (címbejelentő) submission deadline at Registrar (TH)

Thesis submission deadline at Registrar (TH)

Two weeks before the registrar’s (TH) deadline

Send proposal to:

hollo.dorottya [at]

Holló Dorottya




(semester before thesis submission)











These are the steps to be taken before writing the thesis:


(Suggested times and deadlines – in green – are provided to help planning.)


1., Decide on your broad research topic and select a supervisor who you think may help you most in your research. If you are not sure who you would like to work with, the Department Head will assist you in finding a consultant according to your thesis topic. (You can find out about the specialist areas of our staff on our website under ‘Staff details’. Suggested time: 7-8 weeks before the deadline of submission to the registrar’s office (TH).

2., Ask the supervisor of your choice to assist you, and if they agree to undertake the supervision, discuss the research topic with them and narrow down your broad topic to a specific project. Decide on a title for your thesis and a general approach to research the topic. Suggested time: 7-8 weeks before the deadline of submission to the registrar’s office (TH).

3., Start to read up on your topic to prepare for writing a thesis proposal. Suggested time: 6-7 weeks before the deadline of submission to the registrar’s office (TH).

4., Write a thesis proposal. Your supervisor will give you advice to improve and revise the initial version to one that can be submitted.

The thesis proposal should be approximately 300 - 350 words long and should contain the following sections:


your name and your Neptun code

your supervisor’s name

the title of the thesis


the topic of your thesis

a justification of the relevance of the topic (references to theoretical background and earlier research)

the rationale for choosing the topic

the research question(s)

the intended approach of data collection and analysis

anticipated problems in the research process and ways of overcoming these

the expected use and limitations of the study

a list of references and annotated preliminary readings of at least four books or eight journal articles

Suggested time: 4 weeks before the deadline of submission to the registrar’s office (TH).

5., Once your supervisor has approved of your proposal, have them sign a copy of it along with the filled in thesis title submission form (címbejelentő) Deadline: 2 weeks before the deadline of submission to the registrar’s office (TH).

6., Submit the proposal and the thesis form to the Head of Department for approval. N.B.: The Head of Department may ask you to revise or even completely reconsider your proposal. Make sure you keep a copy of the proposal and the form. Deadline: 2 weeks before the deadline of submission to the registrar’s office (TH).

7., If the Head of Department has approved of the proposal and has signed the thesis title submission form, submit the form to the registrar’s office (TH).


8., Do the research and write the thesis. You have almost a year to do this. Your supervisor will help you along this process in regular consultations. Register for the tutorial seminars ANGD-C2 and ANGD-C3.


9., When the thesis is ready check the current regulations at and the Faculty of Humanities website ( as to the number of copies to be submitted, the binding and the contents of the cover page as well as other practicalities. Before submitting the thesis, you will have to have a statement signed by your supervisor saying whether or not they consider the thesis ready for submission. This statement has to then be submitted to the department secretary.

10., Submit the thesis in the registrar’s office (TH).

11., When the theses are marked you can get a copy of the referee’s report from the department secretary. You will have to use the referee’s critical remarks/questions to prepare for the defence of your thesis at the final exam.



back to top



5 The role of the supervisor


The supervisor will provide guidance in writing the MA thesis. They will offer the following support:

  • clarification of the topic and title of the thesis

  • overseeing the writing of the thesis proposal

  • discussion of the appropriate research questions

  • suggestions for a reading list

  • advice on possible approaches to the analysis

  • advice on the writing process.


The supervisor cannot be expected to edit language, punctuation and spelling. The thesis is supposed to demonstrate the student's academic abilities and language skills, so the quality of the paper is entirely the student's responsibility.


Both the student and the supervisor keep a  record sheet of the supervision, on which the consultant has to declare whether they think the thesis is ready for submission or not. The sheet is downloadable from: 'Forms' at .


Selecting a supervisor: Students are free to request the help of any member of staff, yet if a teacher already has 5 supervisees they will have to refuse the request. If in doubt about who to ask to be your supervisor, the Head of Department can give advice. Should you find it necessary, you can request a new supervisor. Written appeals to the Head of Department for changing the consultant will be considered.



6 Marking


The Head of Department will appoint the reader (referees) for all theses submitted in time. The reader and the supervisor will both receive a copy for marking.

Readers are required to assign a mark and submit a 1 to 2-page report of justification based on our thesis marking criteria outlined above. The final mark of the thesis will be decided on at a formal Thesis Markers' Meeting chaired by the Head of Department. The date of this meeting will be posted each term. Conflicting marks will be negotiated and reconciled. If necessary, a third reader will be appointed by the Head. The mark approved by the Department is not subject to appeal.


back to top



7 Guidelines on content and structure


7.1 Content


The aim of conducting research and writing a research paper is to find and present the solution to a problem related to a particular field of enquiry. There are two main types of research papers: empirical and theoretical.


Empirical research aims to explore an issue, generate or test hypotheses through gathering and analysing primary data, i.e. data gained by observation, interviews, questionnaires, discourse analysis, thematic analysis, etc. The focus of empirical research can be on behaviour (e.g. practices, actions, cognitive processes, etc.) or products (texts, films, pieces of art, etc.)

Depending on the aim of the research empirical inquiries work with qualitative and quantitative data. In order to explore, understand or interpret a particular phenomenon - or a set of phenomena from the perspective of the participants - qualitative data are used that are gained from observation, interviews or questionnaires with open ended questions, etc. The outcome then is the close study of a particular case or a limited number of cases, which allows the researcher to interpret the situation or to generate a theory or hypothesis. In order to test a hypothesis, the researcher takes an outsider’s perspective and uses quantitative data gained from quantifiable questions or measurements from a sufficient number of participants or samples so that the findings could be generalizable for the behaviour of the population or product type investigated.


These are a few examples for questions that can be researched through empirical research in the field of culture, language and communication studies:

  • What kinds of misunderstanding occur in the English language communication of non-native English speaking employees at a multinational company?

  • How do different cultural dimensions appear in the film: ‘Gung Ho’?

  • How can intercultural training improve the effectiveness of communication in a foreign language?

  • Are cultural thought patterns identified by Kaplan (1966) reflected in English compositions written by Hungarians?

  • What elements and functions of English humour do English expatriates identify as ‘typically English’?


An empirical research project applies various research tools, preferably a combination of the following:

  • questionnaires

  • interviews

  • thematic analysis

  • observation

  • discourse analysis

  • spoken interaction analysis

  • verbal reports

  • analysis of methods, experiments

  • diaries

  • tests

Theoretical research usually intends to add new angles to or improve already existing theories or conceptual frameworks of particular issues. It may also present completely new theories or solutions for particular problems. It therefore works with already existing theories, theoretical frameworks, data and research results and uses this secondary data to synthesise the literature and offer an original solution of the problem under scrutiny or a heightened understanding of an issue from multiple perspectives. The study may be motivated by the so far inadequate paradigm or lack of categories in a conceptual framework, by trying to establish new logical connections between various phenomena, by the need to define or describe a problematic or complex issue or to (re)interpret social issues in their historical or social context, etc.

These are a few examples for questions that can be explored through theoretical research in the field of culture, language and communication studies:

  • How do existing constructs contribute to identifying the elements of intercultural communicative competence?

  • How does humour act as a social reflex as suggested by Fox (2004)?

  • How can travelogues serve as a guide in cultural studies?

  • How can contradictory cultural dimensions characterize a group simultaneously?

  • What was the role of post WWII immigration in shaping Australian cultural values?

The main aim of a theoretical thesis is to show various treatments of the particular problem and to provide a new or more complex understanding of the issue. The paper starts with the comparison of what different authors say about the same topic, that is, a survey of the relevant literature arranged into some logical framework created by the writer. The approach needs to be critical and analytical:  the paper can put forward an argumentative proposal of the writer's own opinion and solution of the problem, or it can offer a descriptive and interpretive analysis of the issue investigated. The author does not use a database gathered specifically for this research, but relies on already existing materials, and uses data creatively to illustrate the points made to support his/her argument/description/interpretation.


back to top


7.2 Structure


The structure of an empirical research paper:

  •    Preliminary pages: title page and a statement of originality (according to the format specified at:, and a table of contents, which includes the chapters of the paper and also the materials in the Appendices.

  •    Abstract: A short summary detailing the purpose, the relevance, the approach and the results of the paper (100 - 150 words).  

  •    Introduction: This should introduce the reader to the specific issue under analysis and describe the research approach/strategy. The introduction should:

    o   specify the point/topic of the study

    o   explain why the topic is relevant/interesting

    o   explain how the analysis relates to the problem

    o   specify the exact research questions/hypotheses

    o   explain how the study relates to previous work in the field and how it is expected to benefit the field

    o   preview the structure/chapters of the thesis

  •    Review of the literature: This section can either be part of the Introduction or can come under a separate heading (or headings) which specify the main aspects of the review. The purpose of the review is to develop the background, that is, to discuss the relevant literature in order to give the reader knowledge of the field (specifically relating to the research question) which the writer is researching.

   The review of the literature must:

o   define the key terms and concepts,

o   describe relevant theories

o   present earlier research concerning the issue

The literature review can be organized around concepts or the chronology of earlier research but in any case must be focused to suit the purposes of the research. It should be a very thorough and well-structured overview, presented on the basis of an original organising principle. That is, the writer has to make a unique presentation of the existing literature on the topic. This means, for instance, that simply presenting a summary of what different authors said about the same topic, does not qualify for a proper review of the literature. Earlier research results should be evaluated and related to the purpose of the current research.

A good overview is relevant, looks at all the aspects of the given topic, uses a minimum of 15 serious reliable and relevant academic sources, and presents the topic in a new light. As regards materials downloaded from the Internet, only sources that have an author and can be traced even after the submission of the thesis can be accepted.

  •    Research design and method: The Introduction and the Review of the literature are typically followed by a section in which the writer describes in detail how the analysis was conducted, that is, the technical aspects of the study. This chapter is often structured as follows:

o    Research Question(s) (What questions arise based on the lit. rev. and the

      researcher’s focus/interest?)

o    The approach of the research (qualitative or quantitative)

o    Reference to earlier research to justify the approach and methods.

o    Description of the methods of data collection: What? Why? How?

    - Setting (a description of the context, e.g. the place, general and 

       specific background, etc.)

    - Participants or set of materials (texts) analysed (rationale for

       selection, variables, )

    - Procedures (What happened, how long did the procedures last?)

    - Instruments (questionnaires, interviews, observation protocol,

       diaries,document analysis, framework for discourse analysis,

       retrospection, etc.)

(Before getting down to the details, a one or two-sentence summary of the research process should be given.)

o    Methods of data analysis – description of procedures and methods

o    Validity/reliability/credibility/trustworthiness/generalizability/ 

      transferability/ limitations

o    Ethical issues, if relevant

The use of the particular methods must be justified. In the justification, reference must be made to literature on research methodology.  A good method section describes the procedures in such a detailed way that anyone wishing to replicate the study would be able to do so. All the data collection materials (e.g., questionnaires, interview protocols, tasks, observation sheets) need to be exemplified in the appendix. If a data collection instrument is not in English it has to be translated into English and be included in the appendix.

  •    Results and discussion: The Results section will normally contain the results of the analysis, which will detail and justify the conclusion. This section is often merged together with the discussion section, which includes the writer's discussion (i.e. explanation and interpretation) of the results with respect to the original questions/hypotheses and the consequence of the results.

  •    Conclusion: This section briefly summarizes the main findings of the analysis, discusses possible alternative interpretations and views, examines the practical implications (where appropriate), mentions the limitations of the research and proposes directions for future investigations. All the conclusions have to be drawn on the basis of the data, and not subjective speculations.

  •    References: In this section the writer lists all the references that were cited in the texts (and only those!). See our website on APA citation guidelines for details. Make sure you use and refer to sources regarding both the content matter and the research methods.

  •    Appendices: The following materials are appropriate for an appendix: questionnaires, interview questions, observation schedules, information brochures, handouts, teaching materials used or designed, raw data, visual aids, scales, tests, less important tables or figures, practical examples, or other kinds of illustrative materials. The appendices have to contain a short sample of the data (e.g., filled in questionnaires, transcript of interviews, parts of texts produced by the participants). If it is in Hungarian, it also has to be translated into English. All other data used in the research has to be made available to anybody interested.


back to top 


The structure of a theoretical thesis paper:


Questions that are normally addressed in theoretical papers include:

What is the point/topic of the study?

Why is this topic interesting/relevant?

What has been done in the field so far?

Is there any problem with something missing from what has been done/said so far?

COMM2: The Individual and Contemporary Culture: Portfolio

Submission date 15 May 2017

Section A: Reading

Guidance for teachers

Teachers are advised to refer to pages 7-16 of the Communication and Culture specification.

There are four topics for Site A and four topics for Site B.

Each candidate must select one topic from Site A for their Investigation. A title must be devised, appropriate to the chosen topic from Site A.

Each candidate must select one topic from Site B for their Exploration. A title must be devised, appropriate to the chosen topic from Site B.

Further clarification, if required, is available from your Coursework Adviser. Please contact the Customer Support Team for your Coursework Adviser's contact details.

Site A: Communication, Culture and the Individual


This must be on personal identity and once a Site A Topic has been selected, it is important to create a title which allows candidates to demonstrate engagement with key concepts from the course within the scope of a 500 word reading. Titles which are too vague or overly ambitious will prevent candidates from achieving this. It is good practice to make use of the personal pronoun and a phrasing of the title in two steps, as exemplified below to encourage a personal and focused response.

Education: All I learnt at school?

Education can have a profound effect on our sense of who we are. Education can be seen in the broad sense of experiences that have a formative effect on the individual or more specifically as the system by which society formally transmits knowledge, skills, attitudes and values through institutions such as schools and colleges. This topic asks you to investigate the relationship between aspects of personal identity and the many ways in which we are influenced by the contexts of education. Areas for investigation might include your experience of the curriculum ('national' and 'hidden'); the social dimension of education; the many ways in which you are represented at school and college (for example through dress codes and uniforms, photographs, reports, roles, group membership) or of influential people, relationships and experiences within an educational setting.

Sample titles
  1. Reading my school photographs: what do they reveal about me?
  2. Language rules: how school influenced the ways I talk
  3. Class clown and teacher's pet: investigating my differing roles
  4. (Anti) social spaces: me in the playground/common room
  5. Single sex: how being at an all-girls/boys school shaped who I am
  6. Dress codes: fitting in and standing out at school/college
  7. Level playing field? How my race/ethnicity/gender/social class/disability/learning need influenced what I learned
  8. High flyer? Investigating the impact of labelling on my identity
  9. Subject matters: what I really learnt in French/History/etc.
  10. The new kid: the effect of moving schools on my identity
  11. School's Out: leaving school and moving on
  12. (Proudly) representing the school/desperate to be picked: playing a part in school activities (sport, drama, music etc)


You are what you eat: "Food touches everything important to people: it marks social difference and strengthens social bonds. Common to all people, it can signify very different things from table to table." Our relationship with food communicates a lot about the construction and development of our personal identity in terms of food choices, the importance of food preparation and meal times in defining our identity within the family and food as a representation of national, regional or ethnic identity.

*Food and Culture: A Reader by Carole Counihan and Penny van Esterik, (Routledge 1997)

Sample titles
  1. I'm not eating that! Me as a faddy eater
  2. Meat is Murder: how my vegetarianism defines me
  3. Supersize me: investigating my fast food addiction
  4. Soul food: why I value my family traditions
  5. Turkey and Pumpkin Pie: Why I celebrate Thanksgiving
  6. Muesli for breakfast doesn't make me middle class
  7. What the Contents of our Fridge Says About Us
  8. My favourite meal: what it is and what it is (theory and practice)
  9. Fish and chips on Friday: my week in food
  10. Meat and two veg: food and the gender agenda

Virtual Selves: Projections and Representations

Projections and Representations: Virtual worlds can allow us to more freely explore facets of our personalities in ways that are not easily available to us in real life. Partly this is due to our capacity to invent, modify and exaggerate attributes and abilities within these contexts. In one sense we can be whoever we want to be. Online identities are flexible to the extent we can easily alter the seemingly fixed markers of self such as race, ethnicity, gender, age and socio-economic background. Another characteristic of virtual environments is the anonymity they provide. Virtual contexts give the individual the ability to express themselves free from social norms and the pressures or expectations within family and friendship groups, personal relationships or within the education system or work place. However the freedom to experiment and the capacity to remain anonymous have other consequences for our sense of who we are. Maintaining an alternative identity can cause feelings of disconnect and dissatisfaction and can lead to issues of trust in the interactions that we have with other virtual selves. When identity becomes ambiguous and disembodied how do we know what is real? This topic invites you to investigate the relationship between aspects of personal identity and the many ways in which we are influenced by the virtual environment that we interact with and through. Areas for investigation might include your presentation of self on social networking sites; the modifications you make to your identity as an online gamer; the construction of yourself through blogs and vlogs or your own experience of the more negative aspects of virtual communication, such as trolling. Whichever focus you choose remember that this piece of writing is specifically asking you to investigate your own personal identity.

Sample titles
  1. Real friends vs Facebook friends: how social networking affects my personal relationships
  2. Virtual forums: how I express myself online
  3. Me and my avatar: the real me or the ideal me?
  4. Me and You Tube: how I present myself to a mass audience
  5. My Sims family and me: what my virtual family reveals about me
  6. The gamer in me: how RPGs have shaped my identity
  7. "Who is it who can tell me who I am?" How easy is it to identify the 'real me'?
  8. Second Life and first life: how are mine connected?
  9. How I construct my ideal self with Instagram
  10. Mixed messages – the language of texting

Heroes and Idols

'Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.'

David Copperfield

This topic allows you to investigate your relationships with the people you admire, aspire to be like or even 'worship'. In doing this you might want to consider how your personal identity is shaped by your comparison to and identification with others. What do you value about these role models, heroes and idols? Do they embody your ideals for human behaviour or your aspirations in terms of physical appearance, talent or abilities? To what extent are they also embodiments of your cultural values?

Sample titles
  1. Tainted Love: losing faith in my fallen heroes
  2. Broken Heroes: why I admire the flawed 'genius'
  3. The hero in me: investigating my heroic potential
  4. Just the same as I am: What makes my heroes/idols authentic
  5. My superhero fixation: why I value the caped crusader
  6. Special powers: my imagined superhero identity
  7. Idol ideal: how my role model represents my aspirations
  8. Chip off the old block: why mum/dad is my role model
  9. Learning By Example. How my heroes have taught me cultural rules and values.
  10. 'You Should Be Setting an Example': The expectations of being an older sister/brother

Site B: Cultural Contexts and Practices


In contrast to the investigation, the second reading asks the candidate to move away from the personal to an examination of their culture and the cultural practices within it. Best responses achieve a critical distance which is informed by the opinions and views of others, rewarded through Assessment Objective 4.

Rubbish: The culture of junk

Our understanding of 'rubbish' is culturally constructed. What is regarded as waste reveals changing attitudes towards consumption and sustainability. This topic encourages you to explore the meanings to be found in the ways in which societies, subcultures and individuals conceptualise, discard and dispose of goods. The range of issues you might address include the process by which objects move from having value to being valueless; the reclaiming of rubbish as an anti-consumerist act; the scavenging and trading of trash; rubbish as art and as fashion. It is often said that we live in a disposable culture. Are material goods the only things that we dispose of so readily? You might also want to consider the other things we discard or devalue: people, relationships, education.

Sample titles
  1. Vintage Chic: exploring the rise of retro fashion
  2. Mend It? Forget It! : why throwaway society replaced 'make do and mend'
  3. Redefining Junk (or A Fortune in the Attic): the devaluation and revaluation of rubbish
  4. (Yesterday's rubbish; today's heirloom)
  5. Junk Identity: how the language of rubbish is used to label people and places
  6. Bin Liner Fashion: the symbolism of rubbish in clothing and appearance
  7. Bin It! : Behavioural change and cultural messages
  8. So Last Year: the design of obsolescence
  9. "I Just Haven't Got the Space": the relationship between waste and affluence
  10. This Product is Recyclable: How corporations muscled in on green culture
  11. It's NOT rubbish: hoarding and the need to accumulate
  12. To infinity and beyond: dumping junk in cyberspace (in limbo no-one can hear you scream)
  13. Kitsch: the art of bad arts

Rites of Passage: Moving on

A rite of passage is a cultural practice that marks a time when a person reaches a new and significant change in his/her life and such moments of transition are often acknowledged through ceremonies or other formal or informal rituals. These rituals can be anything from a high school prom or a birthday party, to a funeral. Most rites help people to understand their new roles in society and can also help to bring about a change in the way others perceive them. This is an opportunity to explore significant rites of passage and the cultural products and practices through which they are experienced, narrated and represented.

Sample titles
  1. Princess for a day: consumerism and the modern wedding
  2. Five go to Newquay: the teenage holiday as a "coming of age"
  3. "Naughty boys in nasty schools": exploring the rituals of starting 'big school'
  4. The key to the door: is 18 the new 21?
  5. Bunny ears, tutus and strippers: exploring stag and hen dos
  6. Rebel with a cause: exploring the signifiers of teenage rebellion (clothes, skateboards, music etc.)
  7. First Date: exploring the changing rituals of dating
  8. When Hollywood Comes to Bash Street: exploring the rituals of the High School Prom
  9. 'Thinking young and growing older is no sin'. How popular music deals with growing up.
  10. Virtual adulthood: exploring on-line environments (Me Tycoon, Second Life, etc.) and what they teach us

Entertaining Ways: Amusing Ourselves?

The entertainment industry permeates our culture in many ways. It shapes the cultural practices of billions of people around the world, through cinema going, watching television, DVDs or downloads, listening to music, playing computer games and reading magazines. However, at the same time as advances in technology have enhanced and expanded the forms of entertainment available to us, the entertainment industry has been criticised for its negative effects on society. Some of the issues at the heart of recent debates include: the trivializing of culture, the dumbing down of audiences, the damaging effects of screen violence and the increasingly individualised way in which we consume entertainment and the consequent undermining of communities and social interaction. This topic encourages you to explore an aspect of these debates or any of the numerous issues, which an examination of the entertainment industry reveals. Whichever focus you choose, you will need to identify a range of relevant sources that will help you to produce an informed and discursive argument.

Sample titles:
  1. Reality TV: real life art or mindless consumption?
  2. Gossip magazines: harmless trivia or a damaging invasion of privacy?
  3. From monsters to heroes: exploring the popularity of vampires in popular culture
  4. 24/7: exploring the effects of perpetual news
  5. Consuming beauty: exploring the rise of the fashion magazine
  6. Amusing ourselves to death? Is entertainment making us increasingly passive?
  7. "Here we are now! Entertain us" Are we the generation who can't amuse ourselves?
  8. Access All Areas: Is the idea of age-restricted entertainment a thing of the past?
  9. "I want my MTV": exploring the role of music videos in constructing gender identity
  10. Soap operas – a harmless slice of life or subtext for social conditioning

Age Matters

This topic asks you to explore the cultural significance of age. Aging is a biological process but what it means to be a particular age or to be 'young' or 'old' or 'middle aged' is socially constructed. The range of issues you might address include the representation of age in the arts and media; how cultural tastes are influenced by age; how different ages are 'read' by our culture – what it means to be a child, an adolescent or an OAP; the commodification of youth and the 'othering' of old age. This topic encourages you to explore an aspect of these debates or any of the numerous issues, which an examination of the cultural construction of age and aging reveals. Whichever focus you choose, you will need to identify a range of relevant sources that will help you to produce an informed and discursive argument.

Sample titles
  1. "When I'm sixty-four': a cultural reading of retirement
  2. "No country for old men": representations of age in our youth-obsessed culture
  3. The real value of experience: age and socialisation
  4. 'If you are good enough, you're old enough': when is age important?
  5. Rites of Fashion: age and clothes
  6. Coming of age: exploring the rituals of adulthood
  7. Hoodies or goodies? Exploring the roles and representations of teenagers
  8. Teens on Screen: exploring the representation of youth culture in film or TV
  9. The death of adulthood: are we being infantilised? "Live fast die young": the cult of youth

Section B: Presentation

This is not directly related to Site A or Site B topics, however, candidates must address both the personal and the cultural within this audio/visual presentation. The specification states that the purpose of the presentation is to consider the 'struggle' between 'who we want to be and who we are allowed to be.' Best responses considered this conflict through close examination of two of the four key concepts and once selected these should drive the direction of the argument presented. Furthermore personal identity is considered through the cultural practices which bear down on it.

Possible titles with two key concepts explored


Key concepts

Aston Villa and me.

Identity and Representation

Eating disorders and me.

Identity and Power

Me and my guitar.

Identity and representation

Me and my little black dress.

Identity and representation

Me as a piano player.

Identity and value

Me and gaming.

Identity and representation

Me and my Hijab.

Identity and representation

Me and my role in a Muslim household.

Identity and power

The Actor in me.

Identity and representation

Rugby and me.

Identity and representation

Not just a blonde.

Identity and representation

Ballet and me.

Identity and value

One thought on “Communication And Culture Investigation Essay Topics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *