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Unit of study_

GCST2630: Consumer Cultures

Semester 1, 2022 [Normal day] - Remote

Consumerism is a contradictory cultural formation. It is a source of meaning, pleasure and identity, but also a cause of environmental degradation, social injustice and, for some, individual alienation. This unit sets out some of the ethical, environmental and social problems associated with consumerism, and examines in detail some of the creative, ingenious and determined responses to these problems.

Unit details and rules

Unit code GCST2630
Academic unit Gender and Cultural Studies
Credit points 6
12 credit points at 1000 level including 6 credit points from Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Media Studies, English, History, Philosophy, Education, Political Economy, Psychology, Social Work, or Law
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Guy Redden,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Case Study
Written assignment
50% Formal exam period
Due date: 06 Jun 2022 at 23:59
2500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Promotional discourse analysis
Written assignment
20% Week 04
Due date: 14 Mar 2022 at 23:59
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Consumption ethnography
Written assignment
20% Week 08
Due date: 11 Apr 2022 at 23:59
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Participation Participation
Contribution to learning activities
10% Week 13 Weekly
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an exceptional standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


75 - 84

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a very high standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


65 - 74

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a good standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


50 - 64

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.


For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction: Cultural Studies and Consumer Capitalism Lecture (1.5 hr)  
Week 02 Theorising Consumerism and Consumers: Some Traditions Lecture (1.5 hr)  
No Description Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 03 Mediating Consumption: Advertising, Marketing and Everyday Media Lecture (1.5 hr)  
No Description Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 04 Gifts, Commodities and Diverse Economies Lecture (1.5 hr)  
No Description Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 05 Taste, Habitus, Class & Distinction Lecture (1.5 hr)  
No Description Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 06 Following things Lecture (1.5 hr)  
No Description Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 07 Extraction?: Labour, property, rights Lecture (1.5 hr)  
No Description Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 08 Food Stuff Lecture (1.5 hr)  
No Description Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 09 Sharing Economies Lecture (1.5 hr)  
No Description Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 10 Ethical Consumption Lecture (1.5 hr)  
No Description Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 11 Waste: Accumulation and Discard Lecture (1.5 hr)  
No Description Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 12 Fashion and Sustainability Lecture (1.5 hr)  
No Description Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 13 Unit Summary Lecture (1 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.

  • Lecture recording: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on the LMS. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.

  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit will be listed and accessible electronically through the Library, available on the unit Canvas site.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate understanding of theories and concepts about consumption, production and sustainability
  • LO2. examine how consumption is organised, represented and practiced through application of relevant methodologies
  • LO3. undertake critical analysis of consumption practices and discourses surrounding them.
  • LO4. formulate and communicate complex understandings about the social significance and contexts of consumption

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

A comment was made about inaudible sections in audio recordings in the last session. There will be some occasions where this may happen again. For example, we are not able to feature many guest lecturers under current circumstances so may play some extracts from previous recordings of guest lectures so students can hear from experts in specific fields. All efforts will be made to maximise audibility.

Work, health and safety

This unit has been designed to allow for possible provision for on-campus teaching. However, given the planning uncertainties surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, there is no guarantee of the availability of on-campus classes. You may be required to switch from an on-campus to an online tutorial.  Lectures may take the format of recordings, or a combination of recorded material and some on-campus/online elements. In either format they will be available to online students as a recording.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.