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Unit of study_

GOVT2603: Media Politics and Political Communication

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

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 Peter Chen,
Tutor(s) Christopher Hall,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Weekly question responses
Provision of written responses to questions from the lecture and readings
44% Ongoing 1,100 words (total), 100 words per week
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Content Analysis Report
A report that uses content analysis research methods.
40% STUVAC 2,600 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment Content analysis plan
Research plan and background material for the final content analysis report
16% Week 10 800 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5

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 The changing media landscape Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 02 The liberal media model Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 03 Comparative media systems Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 04 The crises in democratic media Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 05 Media in non-democracies Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 06 Agenda setting Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 07 Priming, framing and repetition Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 08 Analysing media content Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 09 Media campaigns Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 10 Media and social movements Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 11 Media ownership and diversity Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 12 Censorship and misinformation Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 13 The new political economy of the media 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 01: The changing media landscape

Holt, Jennifer and Alisa Perren (2019) “Media Industries: A Decade in Review.” In Mark Deuze and Mirjam Prenger (eds) Making Media: Production, Practices, and Professions. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. 31-43.


Week 02: The liberal media model

Hampton, Mark (2009) “The Fourth Estate Ideal in Journalism History.” In Stuart Allan (ed.) The Routledge Companion to News and Journalism. Routledge. 2-12.

Tandoc Jr., Edson C.  and Bruno Takahashi (2013) “The Complex Road to Happiness: The Influence of Human Development, a Healthy Environment and a Free Press.” Social Indicators Research. 113:537–550. DOI 10.1007/s11205-012-0109-6


Week 03: Comparative media systems

Cornia, Alessio and Annika Sehl (2019) “Comparing legacy media responses to the changing business of news: Cross-national similarities and differences across media types.” The International Communication Gazette. 81(6–7–8): 686–706. DOI: 10.1177/1748048518808641

Cushion, Stephen Declan McDowell-Naylor & Richard Thomas (2021) “Why National Media Systems Matter: A Longitudinal Analysis of How UK Left-Wing and Right-Wing Alternative Media Critique Mainstream Media (2015–2018).” Journalism Studies. 22(5):633-652. DOI: 10.1080/1461670X.2021.1893795


Week 04: The crises in democratic media

Peffley, Mark, Alexander Denison, and Travis N. Taylor (2020) “Print, Electronic, and Social Media and the Transformation of Democratic Representation.” In Robert Rohrschneider and Jacques Thomassen (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Political Representation in Liberal Democracies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1-18.

Ouyang, Yu and Richard W. Waterman (2020) “Trump, Twitter, and the American Democracy.” Political Communication in the Digital Age. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. 131-161.


Week 05: Media in non-democracies

Tolz, Vera and Yuri Teper (2018) “Broadcasting agitainment: a new media strategy of Putin’s third presidency.” Post-Soviet Affairs. 34(4): 213-227, DOI: 10.1080/1060586X.2018.1459023

Lei, Ya-Wen (2017) “The Chinese State Strikes Back.” The Contentious Public Sphere: Law, Media, and Authoritarian Rule in China. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 171-202.


Week 06: Agenda setting

McCombs, Maxwell and Sebastián Valenzuela (2014.) “Agenda-Setting Theory: The Frontier Research Questions.” In Kate Kenski and Kathleen Hall Jamieson (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Political Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1-17.

Jackson, Daniel and Kevin Moloney (2016) “Inside Churnalism.” Journalism Studies. 17(6): 763-780, DOI: 10.1080/1461670X.2015.1017597


Week 07: Priming, framing and repetition

Perloff, Richard, M. (2014) “Framing.” The Dynamics of Political Communication: Media and Politics in a Digital Age. New York: Routledge. 156-179.

Robbins, David (2018) “Ministers, handlers, and Hacks: The competition to frame climate change.” Climate Change, Politics and the Press in Ireland. London: Routledge. 95-111.


Week 08: Analysing media content

Stempel III, Guido, H. (1989) “Content Analysis.” In Guido, H. Stempel III and Bruce H. Westley (eds) Research Methods in Mass Communication, Second edition. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. 124- 136.

Özcan, Esra (2019) “Transformation of the Representations of the Headscarf in Religious and Secular Newspapers.” Mainstreaming the Headscarf: Islamist Politics and Women in the Turkish Media. London: I.B. Tauris. 65–94.

Chen, Peter (2019) “Civic discourse on Facebook during The Australian same-sex marriage postal plebiscite.” Australian Journal of Social Issues, 54(3). 285-304.

Walter, Annemarie (2019) “Fighting with Fire: Negative Campaigning in the 2015 UK General Election Campaign as Reported by the Print Media.” In Ofer Feldman and Sonja Zmerli (eds) The Psychology of Political Communicators How Politicians, Culture, and the Media Construct and Shape Public Discourse. London: Routledge. 123-142.

Johanna Perkiö, Leire Rincon and Jenna van Draanen (2019) Framing Basic Income: Comparing Media Framing of Basic Income in Canada, Finland, and Spain.” In Malcolm Torry (ed) The Palgrave International Handbook of Basic Income. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. 233-251.

Frissen, Thomas and Leen d’Haenens (2017) “Legitimizing the Caliphate and its politics: Moral disengagement rhetoric in Dabiq.” In Sai Felicia Krishna-Hensel (ed.) Authoritarian and Populist Influences in the New Media. Routledge. 148-174


Week 09: Media campaigns

Lilleker, Darren (2020) “Political Public Relations and Election Campaigning.” In Jesper Strömbäck and Spiro Kiousis (eds) Political Public Relations Concepts, Principles, and Applications, 2nd Edition. New York: Routledge. 187-207.

Jarding, Steve, Steve Bouchard and Justin Hartley (2017) “Modern Political Advertising and Persuasion.” In Christina Holtz-Bachaand Marion R. Just (eds) Routledge Handbook of Political Advertising. New York: Routledge: 13-28.


Week 10: Media and social movements

Freelon, Deen (2019) “The Measure of a Movement: Quantifying Black Lives Matter’s Social Media Power.” In Michael X. Delli Carpini (ed.) Digital Media and Democratic Futures. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 1-17.


Week 11: Media ownership and diversity

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

Humphreys, Peter and Seamus Simpson (2018) “Regulating media concentration in a converging media environment.” Regulation, Governance, and Convergence in the Media. Edward Elgar Publishing. 130-163.


Week 12: Censorship and misinformation

Riemer, Kai and Sandra Peter (2021). “Algorithmic audiencing: Why we need to rethink free speech on social media.” Journal of Information Technology. 1–18, DOI: 10.1177/02683962211013358

Vilmer, Jean-Baptiste Jeangène (2021). “Fighting Information Manipulation: The French Experience.” In Shashi Jayakumar, Benjamin Ang, Nur Diyanah Anwar (eds) Disinformation and Fake News. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan. 75-90.


Week 13: The new political economy of the media

Edward, Webster (2020) “The Uberisation of work: the challenge of regulating platform capitalism. A commentary.” International Review of Applied Economics. 34(4):512-521. DOI: 10.1080/02692171.2020.1773647

Andrew, Jane and Max Baker (2021) “The General Data Protection Regulation in the Age of Surveillance Capitalism.” Journal of Business Ethics. 168:565–578. DOI: 10.1007/s10551-019-04239-z

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.

The unit has been significantly redeveloped since the last time it was run.

Work, health and safety

If you are feeling even a little unwell, please do not attend classes on campus. Follow health guidelines including recommendations regarding wearing masks.


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