Some of these questions might help you to think about and to structure your essay:
What type of text is being analysed e.g. what sort of medium is it, fiction nonfiction is it a documentary, reality television?
What are the contents of your chosen text describe briefly to your reader what it is about
What media theory, would I use to unpack (explain) what I see as the message or intention of my text? For example is it a documentary what makes it a documentary
What and how does it portray crime or criminality use examples from your chosen text?
Is there anything special you want to point to in terms of production values for example music is it contemporary i.e. setting the era?
Are there any particular critiques that you want to make about this media text strengths, weaknesses?
You do not have to break your essay into headings based on these questions or even address all of these issues. These are not questions that must be addressed rather they may be used to assist you in looking at your text.
Normal academic conventions should be observed when writing your essay.
What reference style should I use?
The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice uses the APA 6 reference style for intext and the reference list
Can you reference personal opinion?
The essay does not ask to be based on your personal opinion. You can (and are expected to) reference your sources: the text itself, things that have been written about your text (movie reviews, book reviews perhaps, some movies have now had entire books written about them and their directors). Crime or media theories which, in your opinion, help explain to you the impact of your text.
Can you consult websites for information?
Much of what you might find written about the media will be in other forms of media (like websites, blogs, social media, etc). The main problem is that students often get lazy with electronic media sources or dont know how to reference these sources. As general rule, references either to websites or hard materials (articles) follow the same rules. Advice: check APA guides to find out about correct referencing including internet sources and references.
What do I mean by using theory?
Theory is meant to help us make sense of phenomena (including crime and the way the media handles it) thus I would assume that naturally you would want to utilise a limited amount of theory to help you analyse/explain your text.
Do you discuss a single episode or a whole series of a television show?
Best advice is to distil (work out) some important themes that you want to point to and then use one episode from a series (TV, movies, novels) as an illustration of what you are talking about BUT, even this is not a hard and fast rule try to think up you own approach one that makes sense.
It might also be possible to add some variety to your essay by making a comparison between texts I know the essay is meant to be about ONE text but this does not mean that you cant briefly compare genres, types of texts to add a bit of colour (eg, if you choose a film was it an adaptation of a book/novel often these are then made into movies does it help to know something about the movie version?)
There are some interesting texts you might not have thought about: for example, remember some super-hero characters started out more than half a century ago in comics and newspaper strips, fighting the forces of evil, and have only recently been resurrected sometimes with major changes in tone, feeling, characterisation, etc. But why? Why now? What does it say about crime or peoples view of crime in the world?
So to conclude there is nothing particularly mysterious about this assignment it opens the opportunity to approach it in lots of different ways and perhaps have some fun doing it. BUT this is still an academic essay it needs to be referenced (and in this case references do not all have to be academic but you still reference any sources including comics, bits out of magazines, websites etc). It should obey all the rules of a decent essay.
Criteria 7 6 5 4 / 3 2/ 1 mark
Describes the chosen text clearly
Provides context and background
Uses and engages with the appropriate media theory (does not just describe the text)
Critically explores the strengths and weakness of the chosen text
Describes how the chosen text is related to crime, the criminal justice system and criminality more broadly.
Critically explores the strengths and weakness of the chosen text using criminological theory
Analysis and interpretation
Provides a critical view and analysis of the chosen text
Provides a clear and coherent summary of the required content in a cohesive way, with all parts linked
Shows evidence of significant research relating to the relevant text
Critical, creative and effective use of relevant and appropriate resources more broadly than just the text and course material
Literature is linked in well with the discussion of the chosen text