POLS2231 Politics of the Mass Media

6 points
(see Timetable)
Non-standard teaching periodHong KongFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 option in the Political Science and International Relations major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category A broadening unit for Bachelor of Arts students where relevant according to the broadening requirements for each student
  • Level 2 elective
This unit explores the role of the mass media in the operation of government and the conduct of politics. The media are correctly perceived to have great power in shaping public policy and moulding public attitudes on a wide range of issues. However, while the media's power is undeniable, one should not disregard the influence over the media of other actors, notably the government. The unit examines the interaction between the media and the government in affecting public opinion and policies. It covers key issues such as the nature of, and forces producing, news; media cultures and organisational settings which shape the way journalists report politics; and the relationship of media to the processes of government, including agenda setting, policy formation and policy implementation. It analyses cases from Australia and overseas in order to provide students with a better understanding of how and why the media game is played.
Students are able to (1) communicate an understanding of political communication as a field of study within political science, specifically the major concepts and the general approaches it adopts to the study of the mass media of communications; (2) appreciate the contribution of theory and method in investigating the political role of the media and the relationship between media and government, and in particular demonstrate familiarity with major explanatory frameworks used in the academic study of these subjects; (3) provide an informed account of ways in which public debate and policy agendas are shaped by the mass media and government, of the ways in which political news is constructed in the media, and of the media as the site of a contest for power; (4) demonstrate familiarity with major research on the political role of the media, government–media relations and of major debates in these areas of study; (5) communicate information, ideas and argument related to the field in a coherent and logical manner in both written and oral forms; (6) work effectively in a collaborative manner as a member of a tutorial group; (7) demonstrate practiced skills of problem analysis and critical reasoning applied to the subject matter of the field; and (8) undertake enquiry-based learning and research on topics related to the field.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial presentation and participation; (2) written assignment; and (3) a final examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Jeannette Taylor
Unit rules
any Level 1 POLS unit
POLS3331 Politics of the Mass Media
Contact hours
lectures: 20 hours; tutorials: 9 hours
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.