Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 x 2 hour lecture-workshops


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1 - 2,500 words   50%
Semester Assessment Essay 2- 2,500 words   50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1 - 2,500 words.  All failed or missing elements must be retaken or made good. Students will be required to complete different assignment questions to the ones originally submitted.   50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2 - 2,500 words  50%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. Critically evaluate the strengths and limitations of various models of communication

2. Identify and reflect upon key features of different media in the context of interpersonal communication

3. Critically evaluate and analyze the key limitations relating to the classic theory of technological determinism, and demonstrate understanding of how 'mediated communication' can be differently conceptualized.


The change in level from MC1 to MC2 is in line with similar changes made to one other level 1 module within the Media and Communication Scheme, and also correlates with the re-grading of four modules from MC3 to MC2.

With the introduction of two new level 1 modules, this will be adjusted to provide a supporting yet challenging 'bridge' from Year 1 to Year/Part 2 study. It will also enhance the available provisions for Year 2 students.

This module will revisit and re-examine some of the key issues and threads introduced in Year 1, but will offer greater theoretical complexity, depth and challenge. New topics will also be explored within the established framework.

The requested change should be applied in time for provisional registration and fully implemented from September 2009-10. We do not wish to disrupt or compromise the available provision for our current cohort, so would like to 'roll-out' the structural changes gradually over the next 12 months.


Lecture-workshop sessions will explore the following topics:

Introduction to Theoretical Models of Communication
What's Wrong with Transmission Models of Communication?
Technological Determinism: A Critique
Historicizing Communication - Case Study (1): Television
Historicizing Communication - Case Study (2): Internet
Marshall McLuhan - Key Ideas of a Technological Determinist
Situating Mediation - Case Study (1): "I'm on the Phone!"
Situating Mediation - Case Study (2): Online Communication: Email, Chatrooms and Webcams
Situating Mediation - Case Study (3): The Phenomenology of Writing
Situating Mediation - Case Study (4): Communication and Identity: Personal Homepages on the Web

Brief description

The first major theme is an exploration of the nature of communication. We explore, for instance, the limitations of the commonsense 'transmission' model of communication as the simple sending of messages to receivers. We also discuss some of the key media used in interpersonal communication, including various forms of online communication.

The second main theme of this module conerns broad theories about the influence of communications tools and media (such as writing, print, television and computers) on their users. The widespread stance of 'technological determinism' sees changes in communications technologies and media as having profound consequences for the individual and for society. This viewpoint is deconstructed and illustrated with a critical study of the ideas of Marshall McLuhan, who coined the well-known aphorism, 'the medium is the message'. This theme raises the question: to what extent are we shaped by our use of what we typically think of as 'neutral' tools and media? Historical case-studies of communications media serve to emphasize the importance of the social context of media use.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number . Students will be given the opportunity to reflect upon basic statistical data (primarily presented in percentages), through encountering key research studies in the field.
Communication . Students' written communication skills will be developed (e.g. appropriate language and style, accuracy, precision and ability to be concise). . Opportunities will be given, through interactive lecture-workshop sessions, for students to develop confidence in using their speaking and listening skills when communicating their ideas.
Improving own Learning and Performance . Students will be able to develop their skills of information, location and retrieval. . Students will be given opportunities to develop effective note-taking skills. . Students will develop their critical thinking skills. . Through group and whole class discussion students will be given opportunities to develop an awareness of the opinions of others and reconsider initial ideas if necessary.
Information Technology . Students will be given the opportunity to develop their authorial and note-taking skills when planning and preparing for the written assignments, and will be encouraged to develop their note-taking skills in lectures. . Students will be given opportunities to develop their skills using electronic search and retrieval of sources both on the web and on the AU LIS. . Students will develop their skills when referencing from the web and related sources, and will focus on the selection of materials appropriate to task. . E-mail and Blackboard will be the main forms of communication and information-sharing in this module, so students will be encouraged to actively engage in these processes.
Personal Development and Career planning . Students will be given the opportunity to evaluate current knowledge and skills and set targets for self-improvement. . Students will be encouraged to take increasing responsibility for managing their own learning. . Students will be encouraged to build upon the knowledge gained from lectures through developing skills in self study (supported by the general and specific reading lists and other resources distributed throughout the module).
Problem solving . Students should be able to identify tensions and debates in the field, and will be encouraged to critical reflect. . Students should gain experience in applying different approaches and materials to understand data and other patterns in research.
Research skills . Students will be able to develop their skills of information location and retrieval. . Students will be given opportunities to develop effective note-taking skills. . Students will be encouraged to evaluate, interpret and reflect upon a variety of sources, and to make links to accommodate new ideas.
Subject Specific Skills
Team work . Most sessions will involve group work where students will be able to collaborate through discussion.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Brown, Barry, Richard Harper & Nicola Green (Eds) (2001) Wireless World: Social and Interactive Apects of the Mobile Age Springer-Verlag Primo search Cobley, Paul (Ed) (1996) The Communication Theory Reader Routledge Primo search Fiske, John (1990) Introduction to Communication Studies Routledge Primo search Gauntlett, David (Ed.) (2000) Web Studies: Rewiring Media Studies for the Digital Age Arnold Primo search Hutchby, Ian (2001) Conversation and Technology: From the Telephone to the Internet Polity Press Primo search Joinson, Adam N. (2003) Understanding the Psychology of Internet Behavior: Virtual Worlds, Real Lives Palgrave Macmillan Primo search Katz, James E. & Mark Aakhus (Eds) (2002) Perpetual Contact: Mobile Communication, Private Talk, Public Performance Cambridge University Press Primo search Mackay, Hugh with Wendy Maples & Paul Reynolds (2001) Social Science in Action: Investigating the Information Society Routledge Primo search McLuhan, Marshall & Quentin Fiore (1967) The Medium is the Massage Bantam Primo search McQuail, Denis & Sven Windahl (1993) Communication Models for the Study of Mass Communication Longman Primo search O'Sullivan, Tim, John Hartley, Danny Saunders & John Fiske (1994) Key Concepts in Communication and Cultural Studies 2nd edn. Routledge Primo search Thurlow, Crispin, Alice Tomic & Laura Lengel (2004) Computer Mediated Communication: An Introduction to Social Interaction Online Sage Primo search Wallace, Patricia (2001) The Psychology of the Internet Cambridge University Press Primo search Wood, Andrew F. & Matthew J. Smith (2001) Online Communication Lawrence Erlbaum Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5