Honours in Media and Communications
An Honours year in Media and Communications is an intensive program of advanced study with research at its centre. Honours is the capstone to an undergraduate degree, extending skills in research, analysis and communication. It allows students to further explore ideas and concepts introduced in their undergraduate degree and/or develop skills and approaches that will enhance their abilities as media researchers and practitioners. It advances skills that are highly prized across a range of government, non-government and commercial organisations involved in media and communications research and practice, and policy development. An Honours year can give an Arts degree an ‘edge’, demonstrating to potential employers that the candidate has the discipline to thoroughly research, write and manage a project to completion.
Successfully completing Honours also prepares students to undertake a research higher degree in the form of an MPhil or PhD – Honours is traditionally considered to be the first step on the path to careers as professional researchers and academics (although Masters degrees by Research can also serve this purpose). Honours students gain experience in managing and designing their own research project, on a personally selected topic, culminating in an 18-20,000 word thesis or equivalent (proposals for mixed-media submissions must be described in the initial application). Each student works closely with an academic supervisor and benefits from the camaraderie developed with other Honours candidates.
Please note: The Digital Cultures program in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences now exists under the departmental umbrella of Media and Communications. Students wishing to enroll in Honours in Digital Cultures should go to the Digital Cultures page.
The Honours program
The Honours program is a one-year course for students who have completed the requirements of an undergraduate degree at the University of Sydney or at another Australian institution.
Honours in Media and Communications offers a mix of coursework and supervised individual research. The program is designed to allow students to focus on developing their research skills and their own research project.
In the first semester, students will be exposed to theoretical concepts and research methodologies that are central to the discipline as well as skills for research design and practice. All coursework is done in the first semester, although students are expected to be working on their theses as well. The coursework involves a 2-hour weekly Reading Seminar conducted by Dr Grant Bollmer and a 2-hour weekly Research Methods Seminar overseen by the Honours Coordinator, and delivered by academic staff from the department and across the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, according to their areas of expertise. 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 late 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.
MECO4011 Honours A
(Theoretical Traditions and Innovations Seminar)
MECO4012 Honours B
(Research Methods seminar)
MECO4013 Honours C
MECO4014 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*. For more detail, please visit the
* Please note: 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 page.
Potential Honours students must also have the permission of the Honours Coordinator. All students interested in applying for Honours must make an appointment to speak with the Honours Coordinator by 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 Media & Communications staff 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 document 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 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:
- 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)