Honours in Media and Communications/Honours in Digital Cultures

The Department of Media and Communications offers two Honours Programs:

  • Honours in Media and Communications
  • Honours in Digital Cultures

What is Honours?

An Honours year is an intensive program of advanced study with research at its centre. It allows students to further explore ideas and concepts introduced in their undergraduate degree and develop skills and approaches that will enhance their abilities as researchers and practitioners in media and communications and/or digital cultures. The program is a mix of coursework and individual research, designed to allow students to develop their research skills and to conduct their own research project, under academic supervision. In their Honours year, students develop skills in critical analysis and research methodologies and work closely with an academic supervisor to design their own research project, on a personally selected topic, culminating in an 18-20,000 word thesis.

Why do Honours?

An Honours qualification is highly prized by employers because it demonstrates that you have the discipline and skills to thoroughly research, write and manage a project to completion.

An Honours year is traditionally considered to be the first step on the path to careers as professional researchers and academics and prepares students to undertake a research higher degree in the form of an MPhil or PhD.

The Structure of the Honours Program

In the first semester, students will be exposed to theoretical concepts and research methodologies that are central to the disciplines of media and communications and digital cultures as well as developing skills for research design and practice. Two coursework seminars are offered in the first semester, as students are developing and their own individual research projects in consultation with their supervisors. The coursework involves a 2-hour per week Reading Seminar and a 2-hour per week Research Methods Seminar which draws on the expertise of academic staff from the department and across the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. These seminars include assessments focused on research design, theory, methodology and critical reading comprising 12-13,000 words of written work.

The second semester is given over to the finalisation of the 18-20,000 word thesis with students working towards a submission deadline of mid October (the exact date changes every year). Throughout the year, Honours candidates are also required to attend departmental seminars that showcase contemporary research in Media and Communications (TBA).

The Honours Unit of Study codes differ from Junior and Senior Units. Honours students enrol in four 'shell' units each semester. These shell units do not correspond directly to the Honours seminars or thesis; they are simply an enrolment mechanism. The overall Honours mark will be recorded as the result for the Honours D Unit.

Semester One:
MECO4011/ARIN4011 Honours A (Critical Traditions and Innovations seminar)
MECO4012/ARIN4012 Honours B (Research Methods seminar)

Semester Two:
MECO4013/ARIN4013 Honours C (thesis)
MECO4014/ARIN4014 Honours D (thesis)

Honours is a single, unified program. While students will receive marks for all pieces of assessment, their academic transcript will record a final, overall Honours mark. The thesis is worth 60% of the final mark and the seminar assessments comprise the remaining 40%. A variety of academics from the Department of Media and Communications will mark the coursework throughout the first semester. Two examiners will mark the thesis. Usually, both markers will be staff members of the Department. The choice of examiners will be determined by the Honours Coordinator, in consultation with the supervisor.

Applying for Honours

Students who are in their final semester, or who have completed their Bachelor degree at the University of Sydney or another university, are eligible to apply. Admission to the Honours year requires successful completion of 48 senior credit points in the subject area that the candidate intends to study, including completion of the major (or majors). Candidates must have achieved a credit average or higher across the 48 senior credit points. From 2015 the minimum requirement for entry into Honours will increase to an average of 70% or above across 48 senior credit points in the intended subject area/s.

The application process for Honours is through the online system Sydney Student. For more detail, please go to the Faculty Honours page.

Potential Honours students must also consult with the Honours Coordinator before making their application through Sydney Student. All students interested in applying for Honours must make an appointment to speak with the Honours Coordinator as early as possible and definitely before the end of October in the year prior to their intended enrolment.

It is in the student's interest to have a reasonably well-developed idea of what his or her area of research will be so that an appropriate Supervisor can be arranged. Students may wish to refer to the Departmental Staff Page to gain an understanding of the research strengths and interests of the department. Students should not confine their attention to academics who have taught them before, and should not hesitate to seek advice from the Honours Coordinator about possible supervisors.

All students applying for Honours must submit a research proposal to the Honours Coordinator via email (Word doc. attachment) by the end of November in the year prior to their planned enrolment. This will enable the coordinator to determine whether appropriate supervision will be available in the following year.

The Honours Proposal should outline the intended research project (minimum 1500 words) and include:

  • A description of the field the student is interested in studying for the thesis and a question/problem within that field that he or she believes requires investigation.
  • A brief literature review that outlines the key theorists in the field, identifying where the student believes his or her work will enhance the existing body of work and/or address a gap in knowledge.
  • you may email the Honours Coordinator for a past example of a thesis proposal.

Further information about Honours in Media and Communications and Honours in Digital Cultures can be found in the Faculty Handbook 2014.

Part-Time and Mid-Year Enrolments

As of 2013, part-time enrolments are now available. The department requires that all students enrol in first semester, whether on a full-time or part-time basis. At this stage, the Program is unable to accept mid-year enrolments. It is expected that students enrolled in the Honours degree part-time will complete their studies across four consecutive semesters.

As the coursework units are only run in Semester One, part-time students must commit to a pattern of one coursework unit in first semester of their first year (MECO4012/ARIN4012 Research Methods) and the thesis unit in second semester. In their second year, part-time students must commit to enrolling in the second coursework unit (MECO4011/ARIN4011 Theoretical Traditions and Innovations Seminar), and their final thesis unit in semester two. It is also expected that students engage in 5% of their thesis work in first semester in both years.


Each year the University of Sydney offers around 50 Honours Scholarships, each worth $6000. Further information about these scholarship will be available on the Scholarships website each year from late August.

Previous Honours Theses titles include:

  • Play to win: How competitive modes of play have influenced cultural practice in digital games
  • Capture - Upload - Broadcast. A case study in the gatekeeping of amateur footage
  • Daily Life: pink ghetto or feminist triumph? An analysis of the content of and responses to Fairfax’s women’s news website.
  • I am your worst fear, I am your best fantasy: new approaches to slash fiction
  • False Start: Representation of sportswomen in The Sydney Morning Herald
  • Regulating the Political Blogosphere
  • The Disconnect Between Journalism and Governance: A Critical Analysis of the Interaction of Journalism and Governance in the Virtual World Second Life
  • The Mythic Monument and Monumental Myth: 9/11 Through Film Posters
  • Telling Bodies: Reading Pro-anorexia websites in search of anorexic voices
  • Niche Publications and Subcultural Authenticity: The Case of Stealth Magazine
  • Difficult Territory: Reporting and Representing under the Northern Territory Permit System
  • The Friend I Hate the Most: British Popular Culture, Cultural Studies and the American Other
  • Informing A Distracted Audience: News Narratives in Breakfast Television
  • In the Public Interest? Investigative Journalism and Fourth Estate Philosophy within the Australian Press
  • Technology and Culture: Charting the Conceptualisation of Digital Audio
  • Broadcasting in Australia
  • So everyone's a rock critic? Music Journalism in a Networked Society
  • MySpace: a place for friends? A Study of Friendship on MySpace
  • Misconceived: Representations of 'The RU486 Debate' in Australian Media
  • Making Traks: Hip-hop subculture in Sydney (Video and discussion paper)