Course syllabus



COMMS 202: Audiences and Users

SEMESTER 1, 2018

15 points

Course Convenor & Lecturer: Ethan Plaut (Office Hours Thursday 2-3pm, room 201E-529, or by appointment)

GTA: Jennifer Kirby (Office Hours: Wed 2-3pm and Thurs 11-12pm, room HSB 643)

Course delivery format: 1 x 2 hr lecture plus 1 x 1hr tutorial 

(Timetable and room details can be viewed on Student Services Online)

Summary of Course Description:              

When you're playing a game, watching a video, or reading, what kind of action are you taking? How are you changed - and by whom? Many university courses, in many departments, address the creation of media, as when we study authors, artists, and media production industries. However this course will instead focus on the common but complex behaviors of the audiences and users who watch, listen to, and play with media both old and new. 
In this course you will conduct original research on an audience or community of users, for example, interviewing fans of a particular band or users of a particular app or site. On the way to completing that project, we will examine various ways that audiences have been conceived, addressed, and measured. We will find that members of the audience slip between roles: here a citizen, there a revenue source; here an active participant, there an unwitting target of surveillance and manipulation. 

Course outcomes:

  • Conceptualize audiences in different ways
  • Interpret various genres of audience research
  • Conduct small-scale, interview-based research
  • Critically evaluate producers' relationships to audiences and users

Assessment Summary:

No final exam. Three quizzes, four "minor assignments," two major assignments: a research proposal and a research project. (See "Assignments" tab on Canvas for details). 

Weekly Topics:

Week 1: Audiences as Attendants / Student Body
Week 2: Audiences as Makers of Meaning
Week 3: Audiences as Mass Market / Propagandees
Week 4: Audiences of Kids
Week 5: Audiences as Players & Produsers
Week 6: Audiences as Polis 
Week 7: Audiences as Data Mine
Week 8: Audiences as Users (Part I)
Week 9: GUEST LECTURE: Prof. Nabeel Zuberi on Music Audiences
Week 10: Audiences as Users (Part II) Non-Users & Resistance
Week 11: Audiences as Searchers
Week 12: Audiences as Inhabitants

Prescribed Texts:

(Online - See reading List)

 Recommended Texts:

(Online - See reading List)

 Workload and deadlines for submission of coursework:           

The University of Auckland's expectation is that students spend 10 hours per week on a 15-point course, including time in class and personal study. Students should manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Deadlines for coursework are set by course convenors and will be advertised in course material. You should submit your work on time. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension but you may be required to provide supporting information before the assignment is due. Late assignments without a pre-approved extension may be penalised by loss of marks – check course information for details.

Course summary:

Date Details