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MFCO223 Documentary and Reality Media

2021 information for papers will be published in early September. 

The politics and aesthetics of representing reality through documentary, reality television and social media.

This paper addresses notions of representation, mediatisation and authenticity in contemporary mediated communications. It looks at the cultural politics of documenting reality primarily through social media and reality television. These sites will be analysed as a nexus where questions of what constitutes reality are (re)produced and disseminated within socio-cultural and institutional contexts. The course accounts for the history of mediations of reality and addresses contemporary challenges to established definitions, categories and assumptions regarding what it means to represent reality.

Paper title Documentary and Reality Media
Paper code MFCO223
Subject Media, Film and Communication
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $904.05
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,954.75

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54 points
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science
A basic understanding of film and media analysis
Teaching staff

Convenor and Lecturer: Dr Rosemary Overell

Paper Structure

Topics include:

  • Social constructionism and ‘reality’
  • Realism, mediation and ideology
  • The affects and effects of reality media
  • Reflexive subjects and reality media


  • Assignment 1: Concept Test (25%)
  • Assignment 2: Critical Essay with Creative Option (35%)
  • Take Home Exam (40%)
Course readings on Blackboard
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • Communicate effectively in written, visual and verbal form regarding reality media theory and practice.
  • Critically evaluate arguments and positions regarding the functions and effects of reality media.
  • Demonstrate a cultural understanding of the expression of identity and difference (ethnic, racial, gender, sexual orientation) through  reality media, with an emphasis on the bicultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Grasp the ethical issues embedded in the various modes of  reality media practice.
  • Demonstrate environmental and general information literacy regarding claims around the presentation of factual data on issues such as social justice within reality media.

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First Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system

Film Screening

Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Thursday 10:00-12:50 9-12, 18-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 19-22
Wednesday 09:00-09:50 9-12, 18-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Wednesday 13:00-13:50 10-12, 18-19, 21-22
A2 Wednesday 15:00-15:50 10-12, 18-19, 21-22