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Unit outline_

WRIT3003: Visual Rhetoric and Contemporary Society

Semester 2, 2022 [Normal day] - Remote

How are we to make sense of our visually-orientated world? Debating theoretical, historical, and methodological developments in the fields of writing studies and rhetoric, we will develop a clearer understanding of the vital role that visual and nonverbal rhetoric plays in the contemporary realm.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit English and Writing
Credit points 6
12 credit points at 2000 level in the Writing Studies minor
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Blythe Worthy,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment hurdle task Annotated bibliography
Written task
20% Week 05
Due date: 02 Sep 2022 at 23:59
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO4 LO5
Assignment hurdle task Analytical report
30% Week 09
Due date: 07 Oct 2022 at 23:59
1250 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5
Assignment hurdle task Individual research essay
40% Week 13
Due date: 04 Nov 2022 at 23:59
1750 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment hurdle task Weekly Responses
Seminar questions / discussion points
10% Weekly 500 words (equivalent)
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4
hurdle task = hurdle task ?

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 independent – and where appropriate, collaborative – research and use of relevant primary and secondary sources, a thoughtful structure, substantial additional work and independent learning. Detailed and demonstrated awareness of professional appropriateness and cultural sensitivity. NB. This grade may be given to recognise particular originality, interdisciplinarity, 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. Appropriate use of relevant primary and secondary sources, a thoughtful structure, substantial additional work and independent – and where appropriate, collaborative – learning. Demonstrated awareness of professional appropriateness and cultural sensitivity.


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. Evidence of independent research and use of relevant primary and secondary sources, a thoughtful structure, substantial additional work and independent learning. Work of good quality, showing more than satisfactory achievement. General clarity of expression and professional appropriateness and cultural sensitivity.


50 - 64

A satisfactory attempt to meet the demands of the assignment. Demonstrates understanding and command of basic skills, core knowledge, and appropriate primary and relevant resources. The assignment may have significant weaknesses (e.g. poor time-keeping skills, lack of engagement with chosen materials), or may not be wholly successful or coherent in terms of delivery or clarity of expression, 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 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 Introductions Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 02 Spectacles Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Reflection, Amusement, Distraction Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 03 Definitions Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Rhetorics, Icons, Signs Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5
Week 04 Interpretations Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Thinking Visually, Rhetorical Imagery Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5
Week 05 Histories Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Photographic Developments Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 06 Images Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Perception and Consumption Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 07 Platforms Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Social Media and Photography Now Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5
Week 08 Forgeries Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Deepfakes and the Crisis of Indexicality Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5
Week 09 Frames Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Terministic Screens, Rhetorical Perspectives, Movement Images Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5
Week 10 Marvels Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Acceleration, Shards, Affect Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5
Week 11 Spaces Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Architecture, Meaning, Environment Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5
Week 12 Memes Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Communication, Culture, Conflict Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5
Week 13 Objects Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Consultations Seminar (2 hr) LO3 LO4

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

Primary readings for this unit can be accessed through Canvas. Primary and recommended secondary readings can be accessed through Canvas and the Library eReserve.

These two handbooks will be of use when it comes to the practice of written composition:

  • Booth, W.C. (2016). The craft of research (4th ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Sword, Helen. (2011). Stylish academic writing. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 

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. identify the rhetorical techniques associated with the field of visual rhetoric on close reading of influential texts (including literary works, films, visual artworks, songs, philosophical doctrines and monuments)
  • LO2. evaluate persuasive visual texts in relation to the historical, geographical, cultural, political and social contexts in which they were produced
  • LO3. plan for and meet goals and deadlines, both independently and as a team member
  • LO4. demonstrate advanced skills in research and critical thinking and analysis to link information in an original way
  • LO5. apply the concepts and theories associated with visual rhetoric and rhetorical reasoning and argumentation in evaluating discussions on current social and political issues and defend an ethical and logical argument effectively and reflectively in various mediums (oral, visual, and written).

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 weekly lecture and seminar schedule has been modified and refined. The WRIT3003 assessment schedule has also be modified and refined.


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.