How I shaped my dissertation around my interest in counter-terrorism

Emma Campbell, a final year English Language and Applied Linguistics student, tells us about her dissertation topic and hopes for the future.

“When I applied to do English Language at the University of Reading during my last year of sixth form, I didn’t imagine I would be considering a career into counter-terrorism. I always knew I wanted to study English at University, but never really thought about the careers that would be accessible to me after completing my degree. A lot of people would associate an English Language degree with only the options of becoming a teacher, a journalist; but what people don’t realise is that doing this degree opens so many other doors. I am currently in my final year, and completing my dissertation. To stay motivated and manage to write 10,000 words I knew I had to do it on a topic I am really passionate about, and with a degree like I English Language I was able to be as flexible as I liked. After some research, I decided to look at the terrorist organisation; Islamic State’s use of propaganda. My research involves using an approach in linguistics known as critical multimodal discourse analysis, which allows me to investigate the group’s use of language, and images and begin to understand the vital role they both play in a terrorist organisations communication strategy. I eventually hope to use my research to help build frameworks to further the efforts of counter-terrorism strategies. By thinking a little outside of the box, I can pursue my choice of a career in working on counter-terrorism strategies, whilst following my passion for studying the English Language. My advice would be is if you love studying English like I do, do it at University. You don’t have to limit yourself to the small pool of careers that are stereotypically associated with this degree. There are so many more options out there and it only takes a place like university to learn about what a degree in English Language can offer you.”

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