Course syllabus



COMMS 202: Audiences and Users

SEMESTER 2, 2019

15 points


Course Convenor:  Dr. Jenny Stümer

 Email -

 Office - HSB (building 201E), rm 526
 Office Hours:  Tuesday 1-2; Friday 11-12


GTA: Joe

Office hours:  Thursday 12-1 (201-E, 525)


Tuakana mentor: Kaitiaki Rodger:


Course delivery format: 2 hr lecture plus 1hr tutorial 

Lecture: Tuesday 10:00PM to 12:00 PM Old Government House, Room G36

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


Class reps:

Sav Wallis,

Brittany Luhrs,


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. 
We will examine various ways that audiences have been conceived, addressed, and measured and examine how audiences and users are situated in particular contexts. 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:

  • Conceptualise audiences in different ways
  • Interpret various genres/approaches/ theories of audience research
  • Critically evaluate producers' relationships to audiences and users
  • Critically analyse different areas of audience and users research
  • Critically evaluate ethical and political implications of audiences and users engagement
  • Conceptualise a research project (including proposal writing and protocol design)
  • Critical self-evaluation and reflections on audience research


Lecture Schedule:

Week 1 Introduction

Week 2 Researching Audiences and Users

Week 3 Consumers, Datafication and Surveillance

Week 4 Political Audiences Citizenship and Publics

Week 5 Active Audiences: Fandom

Week 6 Streaming Audiences: Music, Netflix, Identity (Guest lecturer: Dr. Jennifer Kirby)

Week 7 Gaming: Audiences and User Experience (Guest lecturer: Dr. Larry May)

Week 8 Trolling: In-Groups, Dislike and Hate

Week 9 Considering Gender: How Audiences and Users Negotiate Femininity and Masculinity

Week 10 Considering Race: Black Twitter, Search Functions and the Politics of Viewing

Week 11 Resistance: Anti-Uses and Avoidance (Guest lecturer: Dr. Ethan Plaut)

Week 12 Final Workshop


Assessment Summary:

Participation + Tutorial exercise: 10%

Presentation: 10%

Proposal: 25%

Essay: 25 %

Final Project: 30%


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. Late assignments without a pre-approved extension will be penalised by loss of marks (1 mark/point per day). There should be a good reason for seeking an extension (e.g. illness, family emergency, etc.) and it will be up to your tutor or the lecturer to determine whether your situation warrants more time for the assignment. In general, we can only help you, if we know what is going on, so please come and talk to us.

Course summary:

Date Details Due