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Unit of study_

GOVT2603: Media Politics and Political Communication

Semester 2, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit is primarily about news, its production, contents and impacts. It will examine the special demands of different news organisations and of reporting different news areas; the news media as an arena in political conflicts and the consequent interests and strategies of various groups in affecting news content; and the impacts of news on political processes and relationships. Our primary focus is on Australia, but there is some comparison with other affluent liberal democracies. The substantive areas the unit will focus on include election reporting, scandals and the reporting of war and terrorism.

Unit details and rules

Unit code GOVT2603
Academic unit Government and International Relations
Credit points 6
12 credit points at 1000 level in Politics or 12 credit points at 1000 level in International Relations or 12 credit points at 1000 level in Government and International Relations
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Christopher Hall,
Lecturer(s) Christopher Hall,
Milica Stilinovic,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Essay
An academic argumentative essay based on course content
45% Week 05 2000wd
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO5
Assignment Content Analysis Report
A report that uses content analysis research methods.
45% Week 11 2000wd
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Tutorial quiz In-class quiz
A quiz based on course content between weeks 1 to 11
10% Week 12 500wd equivalent
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2

Assessment summary

Essay, Content Analysis Report, Quiz.

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.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

For every calendar day up to and including ten calendar days after the due date, a penalty of 5% of the maximum awardable marks will be applied to late work.

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 1. Unit introduction; 2. Three "media ages" Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 02 1. Institutions I; 2. Institutions II Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 03 1. Media effects I; 2. Media effects II Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 04 1. Media effects III; 2. Media effects IV Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 05 1. Propaganda and fake news I; 2. Propaganda and fake news II Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 06 1. Regulating media markets; 2. Regulating media content Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 07 1. Games; 2. Soft news and satire Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 08 1. The subaltern speaks I; 2. The subaltern speaks II Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 09 Electioneering & Campaigning Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 10 Electioneering & Campaigning Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 11 1. Media and international relations; 2. Reporting terror Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 12 1. Reporting war; 2. Reporting peace Lecture and tutorial (3 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: All lectures will be adapted and recorded for this unique semester of covid19 restrictions. Lecture content will be posted on canvas.
  • Preparation: students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction. That means that, in your own time, you should be working on this unit for 9 hours each week.

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

Week 1. Introduction & Three “Media ages”


Winner, L. (1986). Do artifacts have politics? In The whale and the reactor: a search for limits in an age of high technology (pp. 19–39). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Schultz, J. (1998). Reviving the fourth estate: democracy, accountability and the media. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



Week 2. Institutions


Mullen, A., & Klaehn, J. (2010). The Herman-Chomsky Propaganda Model: A Critical Approach to Analysing Mass Media Behaviour. Sociology Compass, 4(4), 215–229.


Walker, C., & Orttung, R. W. (2014). Breaking the News: The Role of State-Run Media. Journal of Democracy, 25(1), 71–85.



Week 3. Media Effects


Perloff, R. M., Bathgate, L., Altman, M., Hollingsworth, C., & Knox, J. (2014). The dynamics of political communication: media and politics in a digital age. New York: Routledge. Pp. 155-179.


Perloff, R. M. (2017). The dynamics of political communication: media and politics in a digital age (Second edition.). London, [England]: Routledge. Pp 186-217.


Arendt, F., & Marquart, F. (2015). Corrupt politicians? Media priming effects on overtly expressed stereotypes toward politicians. Communications, 40(2), 185–197.



Week 4. Media Effects


Sanders, K. (2009). The people: opinion, polls and participation. In Communicating politics in the twenty-first century (269th ed., pp. 143–161). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


Vromen, A. (2017). Digital Citizenship and Political Engagement: The Challenge from Online Campaigning and Advocacy Organisations. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK. Pp. 51-75.

Stoycheff, E. (2016). Under surveillance: examining Facebook’s spiral of silence effects in the wake of NSA internet monitoring. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 93(2).



Week 5. Propaganda & Fake News


Abrams, S. (2016). Beyond Propaganda: Soviet Active Measures in Putin’s Russia. Connections, 15(1), 5–31.


Allcott, H., & Gentzkow, M. (2017). Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31(2), 211–235.



Week 6. Regulating Media Markets. Analysing Media using content analysis


Pickard, V. (2013). Social Democracy or Corporate Libertarianism? Conflicting Media Policy Narratives in the Wake of Market Failure. Communication Theory, 23(4), 336–355.


Halberstam, J. (2017). Trigger Happy: From Content Warning to Censorship. Signs, 42(2), 535–542.


Stempel, G. H. (1989). Content Analysis. In G. H. Stempel & B. H. Westley (Eds.), Research methods in mass communication (2nd ed., pp. 124–136). Englewood Cliffs, N.J..: Prentice-Hall.


Week 7. Games, soft news, satire

Street, J. (2011). It’s just for fun: politics and entertainment. In Mass media, politics and democracy (pp. 77–100). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


Hutchinson, J. (2017). Cultural Intermediaries: Audience Participation in Media Organisations. Cham: Springer International Publishing.



Week 8. The Subaltern Speaks

Blue, E. (2017). Seeing Ms. Dhu: inquest, conquest, and (in)visibility in black women’s deaths in custody. Settler Colonial Studies, 7(3): pp. 299-320


Fraser, N. (1990). Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. Social Text, 25–26(25/26), 56–80.


Week 9. Electioneering & Campaigning

Chen, P.J., Stilinovic, M. New Media and Youth Political Engagement. JAYS (2020).


Belfry Munroe, K., & Munroe, H. D. (2018). Constituency Campaigning in the Age of Data. Canadian Journal of Political Science, 51(1), 135–154.


Gauja, A., Chen, P., Curtin, J., & Pietsch, J. (2018). Double dissolution: the 2016 Australian election. Acton, A.C.T: ANU Press.



Week 10. Electioneering & Campaigning

Washbourne, N. (2010). On the media marketing of parties and leaders: emergence and consequences. In Mediating politics: newspapers, radio, television and the Internet (pp. 31–50). Maidenhead, England: Open University Press.


Farrar-Myers, V. A., & Vaughn, J. S. (2015). Controlling the message: new media in American political campaigns. New York: New York University Press. Pp. 93-112


Week 11. Media & IR and Reporting Terror

Gaufman, E. (2017). Security Threats and Public Perception: Digital Russia and the Ukraine Crisis. Cham: Springer International Publishing. Pp. 13-50.


Lim, S. (2016). The contested ethics of mainstream reporting of terrorism in the social media age. Te Mata Koi : Auckland University Law Review, 22, 249–280.


Shaffer, K. (2015). Richard Bach Jensen. The battle against anarchist terrorism: an international history, 1878–1934. The American Historical Review, 120(3), 979–980.


Week 12. Reporting War, Peace Journalism

Seethaler, J. (2013). Selling war: the role of the mass media in hostile conflicts from World War I to the " "War on Terror. Bristol: Intellect. Pp. 219-235.


Galtung, J. (2003). Peace Journalism. Media Asia, 30, 177–180.


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 different ontologies of thinking about media politics (institutional, behavioural, functional, constructivist)
  • LO2. demonstrate understanding of contemporary debates about the impact of the media system on the conduct of politics
  • LO3. demonstrate understanding of issues relevant to policy-makers consideration of the regulation of media
  • LO4. demonstrate strategic understanding about how media can be employed to achieve political outcomes
  • LO5. demonstrate media analysis skills.

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.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered

Work, health and safety

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