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Unit of study_

MECO6904: Dissertation Part 1

Semester 1, 2020 [Supervision] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit requires students to commence the conduct of their own research projects under the supervision of a member of staff and write a dissertation of 12000 words (completed in the second semester of enrolment in MECO6905). In some cases these projects will give students the opportunity to extend lines of enquiry suggested by units of study already completed for the degree. In other cases, students may have an interest in an area not covered by the coursework programs offered during their candidature that can be developed as a supervised project.

Unit details and rules

Unit code MECO6904
Academic unit Media and Communications
Credit points 6
MECO6928 or MECO6935
24 credit points from Digital Communication & Cultures or Media Practice or Health Communication or Strategic Public Relations or Publishing degree tables
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Benedetta Brevini,
Lecturer(s) Benedetta Brevini,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Ethics application (if necessary)
0% - n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO2
Assignment Research proposal/chapter outline
20% Week 03
Due date: 13 Mar 2020 at 23:59
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Assignment Draft methods/theoretical framework
40% Week 07
Due date: 09 Apr 2020 at 23:59
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Assignment Draft literature review
40% Week 12
Due date: 24 May 2020 at 23:59
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO5 LO6 LO7 LO9

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

Work of outstanding quality, demonstrating an excellent standard of written English and of criticism, logical argument, interpretation of materials or use of methodology. Evidence of extensive research and use of primary sources, a thoughtful structure, substantial additional work and independent learning. This grade may be given to recognise particular originality or creativity.


75 - 84

Work of superior quality, demonstrating a command of language, sound grasp of content, efficient organisation and selectivity. Evidence of relevant research, additional work and independent learning.


65 - 74

A sound performance, competent and appropriate. Work that is well written and demonstrates good research skills. Demonstrates a clear grasp of the basic skills and knowledge. Work of good quality, showing more than satisfactory achievement.


50 - 64

A satisfactory attempt to meet the demands of the assignment.
Demonstrates understanding and command of basic skills and core knowledge. The assignment may have significant weaknesses, or may not be wholly successful or coherent, but shows at least satisfactory achievement in more important aspects.


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 First meeting with supervisor: schedule meetings for remaining semester Seminar (0.5 hr)  
Week 03 Second meeting with supervisor Seminar (0.5 hr)  
Week 05 Third meeting with supervisor: submit ethics application if needed Seminar (0.5 hr)  
Week 07 Fourth meeting with supervisor: submit draft method or theoretical framework Seminar (0.5 hr)  
Week 10 Fifth meeting with supervisor Seminar (0.5 hr)  
Week 12 Sixth meeting with supervisor: submit draft literature review Seminar (0.5 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


The following are suggestions for getting started; this is by no means an exhaustive list. You should read widely, both around your topic and in relation to methodology. Both your supervisor and the humanities librarian in Fisher, Kim Wison, will be able to assist in the early stages of your research and may be able to identify the most appropriate databases for your topic.

The online Sage Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods is also highly recommended and is availalbe online via the Fisher libary catalogue.

Communications and Media Theory

Cavallaro, D. (2001). Critical and cultural theory: thematic variations. London: Athlone. Corner, J., Schlesinger, P. and Silverstone, R. (Eds.) (1998). International media research: a critical survey. London: Routledge.

Cunningham, Stuart (2010) ‘Aligning Communication, Cultural and Media Studies Research and Scholarship with Industry and Policy: Australian Instances’, Media International Australia, 136: 13-19.

Deuze, M. (2007) Media Work. Cambridge UK: Polity Press

Easthope, A. and McGowan, K. (Eds.), (2004). A critical and cultural theory reader. 2nd edn. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Johnson, Richard, Deborah Chambers, Parvati Rghuran and Eastella Tincknell. (2004) The Practice of Cultural Studies. London: Sage.

Henderson, Alison, Simpson, Mary, and Weaver, C. Kay (2010) ‘Communication in Aotearoa New Zealand: The Challenge of Engaging Globally and Acting Locally’, Media International Australia, 136: 27-34.

Katz, E. [et al.] (2003). Canonic texts in media research: are there any? Should there be? How about these? Cambridge: Polity Press.

Katz et al. (2003), ‘Introduction: Shoulders to Stand On’, in Canonic Texts.Flew, Terry (2010), ‘Comparative Communication Research: Australian and New Zealand Communication Research in an International Context’, Media International Australia, 136: 5-12.

Kreps, G.L. (2011). Communication in organizations. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Mayhew, L. (1997). The New Public. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rice, Ronald, E. and Charles K Atkin (Eds.) (2001). Public Communication Campaigns, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Rush, Fred (ed.) (2004) The Cambridge Companion to Critical Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Scannell, Paddy (2007) Media and Communication. Los Angeles and London: Sage.

Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

Tones Keith and Jackie Green. (2010). Health Promotion: Planning and Strategies. 2nd Edn. London: Sage.

Tumber, H. (2000). Media power, professionals and policies. London: Routledge. Turnbull, Sue (2010) ‘Wagon Train to the Stars: The Past , Present and Future of Communication Research in Australia’, Media International Australia, 136: 20-26.

Turner, Graeme, and Cunningham, Stuart (eds.) (2010) The Media and Communications in Australia. 3rd ed. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

Wilson, Helen (ed.) (1989) Australian Communications and the Public Sphere: Essays in Memory of Bill Bonney. Melbourne: Macmillan.

Methods and Approaches

Kreps, G.L. (2008). Qualitative inquiry and the future of health communication research. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication, 9(1), 2-12.

Neumann, M., Kreps, G.L., & Visser, A. (Guest Editors). (2011). Methodology in health communication research. Patient Education and Counseling, 82 (3).

Stokes. Jane (2003) How to do Media and Cultural Studies. London: Sage Publications Weerakkody, Niranjala (2008) Research Methods for Media and Communication. South Melbourne, Vic., Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Textual Analysis

Fiske, J & Hartley, J 1978, Reading Television, Methuen, London.

Fürsich, E 2009, ‘In Defense of Textual Analysis: Restoring a Challenged Method for Journalism and Media Studies’, Journalism Studies, vol 10, no 2, Routledge, London, pp. 238–252.

Hartley, J 1992, Tele-ology: Studies in Television, Routledge, London.

Jenkins, H 1992, Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture, Routledge, London. McKee, A 2003, Textual Analysis: A Beginner’s Guide, Sage, Thousand Oaks.

McKee, A 2001, ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Textual Analysis’, Metro Magazine, no 127/128, Australian Teachers of Media, St Kilda, pp. 138–149.

Neilsen, Lori ‘Lyric Inquiry’ in Handbook of Arts Qualitative Research Case Studies

Fenton, N. and V. Barassi, (2011) "Alternative Media and Social Networking Sites: The Politics of Individuation and Political Participation", The Communication Review, 14:179–196.

Fuchs, C. (2010) "studiVZ: Social Networking in the Surveillance Society", Ethics and Information Technology,12:171–185.

Stengrim, L.A. (2005) "Negotiating Postmodern Democracy, Political Activism, and Knowledge Production: Indymedia’s Grassroots and e-Savvy Answer to Media Oligopoly", Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Vol. 2, No. 4, December, 281-304.

Walgrave, S. (2008) "Again, the Almighty Mass Media? The Media’s Political Agenda-Setting Power According to Politicians and Journalists in Belgium", Political Communication, 25:445–459.

Discourse Analysis

Bednarek, M. (2010) ‘Evaluation in the news - A methodological framework for analysing evaluative language in journalism’. Australian Journal of Communication 37/2: 15-50. Cotter, Colleen (2001) ‘Discourse and media’, in Schiffrin, Deborah, Tannen, Deborah & Hamilton, Heidi (eds), The Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Blackwell: Oxford, pp. 416– 436.

Quantitative Content Analysis

Robinson, L.T.K. (2006) ‘Curmudgeons and Dragons? A Content Analysis of the Australian Print Media’s Portrayal of the Information Profession 2000 to 2004’, LIBRES Library and Information Science Research Electronic Journal, Volume 16, Issue 2, September, pp. 1 - 19

Sicakkan, Hakan G. and Tonnevold, Camilla M. (2008) ‘Media Codebook II and Coding Sheet II for Print and Broadcast Media’, Variables V16-V22, Eurosphere Research Notes No. 28, pp. 1 – 10

United States General Accounting Office, Report to Program Evaluation and Methodology Division (1992) Quantitative Data Analysis: An Introduction, Chapters 1 – 3 (perhaps 4)

Qualitative Content Analysis

Downe-Wamboldt, B. (1992). Content analysis: Method, applications, and issues. Health Care for Women International, 13, 313-321

Hsiu-Fang Hsieh and Sarah E. Shannon, (2005) ‘Three Approaches to Qualitative Content Analysis’ Qualitative Health Research November vol. 15 no. 9, 1277-1288

Weber, R. P. (1990). Basic content analysis. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage

Zhang, Y. , & Wildemuth, B. M. (2009). ‘Qualitative analysis of content’, In B. Wildemuth (Ed.), Applications of Social Research Methods to Questions in Information and Library Science (pp.308-319). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited

Framing Analysis

Carragee, Kevin M. and Roefs, Wim (2004) ‘The neglect of power in recent framing research’, Journal of Communication, vol. 54, no. 2, pp. 214-233.

Entman, Robert M. (1993) ‘Framing: Toward clarification of a fractured paradigm’, Journal of Communication, vol. 43, no. 4, pp. 51-58.

Lewis, Seth C. and Reese, Stephen D. (2009) ‘What is the war on terror? Framing through the eyes of journalists’, J&MC Quarterly, vol. 86, no. 1, pp. 82-102

Luthra, R (2007) ‘Framing gender in Afghanistan and Iraq’ in H. Nossek, A. Sreberny and P. Sonwalkar (eds) The media and political violence. Cresskill: Hampton Press, pp. 325-340.

Reese, Stephen D. (2007) ‘The framing project: A bridging model for media research revisited’, Journal of Communication, vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 148-154.

Audience Studies

Bird, S. E. 2011 Seeking the Audience for News. In Nightingale, V. Ed The Handbook of Media Audiences. Wiley-Blackwell, Malden and Oxford. Pp 489-508

Napoli, P. M. 2011 Ratings and Audience Measurement. In Nightingale, V. Ed The Handbook of Media Audiences. Wiley-Blackwell, Malden and Oxford. Pp 287-301 Or (tbc) Butsch, Richard 2011 Audiences and publics, media and public spheres. In Nightingale, V. Ed The Handbook of Media Audiences. Wiley-Blackwell, Malden and Oxford. Pp 149-168.

Nightingale, V. 2004 Television Audiences: Publics, Markets, Communities and Fans. In J. Downing Editor-In-Chief, Sage Handbook of Media Studies.SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi Pages 227-249.

Sandvoss, Cornel 2011 Reception In Nightingale, V. Ed The Handbook of Media Audiences. Wiley-Blackwell, Malden and Oxford. Pp 230-250.


Interviewing Methods

Scheuren, Fritz (2004) What is a Survey, Chapters 1 – 3 and 6.

Seidman, I., (2006) Interviewing As Qualitative Research: A Guide For Researchers In Education And The Social Sciences, Teachers College

Weerakkody, Niranjala (2008), Chapter 10 ‘Research interviewing’ in Research methods for media and communication. South Melbourne, Vic.; Oxford: Oxford University Press pp. 166-185 

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. understand the principles and practices of scholarly research for dissertation writing
  • LO2. plan and write a research proposal, a research plan and where necessary, an ethics application
  • LO3. demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between research design and choice of methods
  • LO4. demonstrate an understanding of the ethical implications of the chosen research method
  • LO5. engage with existing scholarship in a specific field of inquiry and identify an area for explication, elaboration or addition to knowledge in that field
  • LO6. understand the generic requirements of a literature review
  • LO7. demonstrate a detailed understanding of the production processes of scholarly composition, referencing and attribution at an advanced level
  • LO8. demonstrate use of appropriate media, tools and methodologies to produce a dissertation
  • LO9. use information in critical, creative and scholarly thinking
  • LO10. research and produce a 12000 word dissertation thesis.

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.

We value your opinion and regularly review our operations based on this feedback

Research Ethics

Student research involving human interaction (for example observation, interviewing, filming or questionnaires of any kind) has ethical implications. This research will need clearance by the University Human Ethics Committee prior to implementation. Your supervisor will advise you as to whether clearance is required for your project and if it is, will assist you in preparing and submitting the application. If your project likely requires ethics clearance, you will need to attend to this as early as possible after enrolment to ensure sufficient time to conduct your research.

For details on human ethics guidelines and application procedures, see: 

Research Students In MECO

Masters Dissertation students are considered part of our research school and are encouraged to attend the honours students seminars in MECO and other research seminars organised by the Department. Please contact your supervisor for more information. Please ask your supervisor to have your name added to the mailing list for Sydney Ideas and the Media at Sydney seminars. 

Dissertation Guides

SUPRA produces a useful guide to writing dissertations. There are also regular workshops and classes offered by the Sydney University Learning Centre that may assist you in such aspects of dissertation writing as methodology, research, writing a literature review and presenting your work.

See the current program.

Supra’s Thesis, Treatise or Dissertation Guide:

Theses@Sydney resources:

Proof-reading and Edting of Theses and Dissertations:,aspx?recnum=PDOC2011/208&RendNUM=0 

Responsibilities of Supervisor and Student

Dissertation students should expect from their supervisor guidance in the design of their research project (methodology), and advice in planning, timing and protocols for undertaking research. Students can expect to meet with their supervisor each fortnight for one hour.

Your supervisor will determine whether your progress in MECO6904 is adequate to proceed to MECO6905, so it is vital you attend meetings and produce draft work during this first semester of your research in time for this assessment to be made (usually in Week 13).  

Once enrolment has been formalized, you should arrange a meeting with your supervisor without delay. It is generally advised that you should meet with your supervisor for a minimum of four one-hour sessions per semester, or a half-hour each fortnight. You might find that this varies at times of high output, towards the end of each semester for example, so this guide should be regarded as a minimum requirement; and you may negotiate meeting times, duration and frequency with your supervisor. While it is the student’s responsibility to submit work on time, the supervisor will guide you in establishing a feasible program of study. 

Please note that anonymous marking is disabled for this unit of study.


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

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