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    An overview of the field of audience studies as it relates to film, media and communication.

    Audiences are a central concern of the mass media industries, which have developed a number of assessment methods. Despite this, it has proven difficult - if not impossible - for these methods to accurately or consistently measure what it is that they originally set out to measure: how audiences make use of texts. The paper, therefore, considers what is at issue, the main approaches and their presuppositions. We will also explore why the study of audiences has become so problematic by examining different ways in which the audience have been imagined as an object of study and the difficulties of assessing what it is that people think or feel - consciously or unconsciously - about what they read, listen to and see.

    About this paper

    Paper title Audience Studies
    Subject Media, Film and Communication
    EFTS 0.1667
    Points 20 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2024 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,240.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    54 300-level MFCO points
    May not be credited together with MFCO407 passed in 2012, 2014, 2015 or 2016.
    Teaching staff

    Convenor and Lecturer: To be advised when paper next offered.

    Paper Structure
    This class is structured according to three modules:
    • A historical overview of audience studies
    • Research and participation weeks, including practice in focus group methodology and the presentation of relevant case studies
    • Discussion around what it means to engage with audiences, recognising the social context of viewing
    • Seminar presentation 40% (10% each for 2 class presentations; 10% each for 2 materials/meetings)
    • Seminar contribution 24%
    • Major research essay 36% (6% proposal; 30% essay)
    Teaching Arrangements
    The paper is delivered through seminars. There are also screenings on selected weeks. Students are expected to participate in and lead discussion and take an active part in class sessions as independent learners.

    Course reader

    Highly Recommended:
    Gibaldi, Joseph: MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 8th ed.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Critical thinking, Ethics, Research, Self-motivation.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete the paper will:

    • Obtain an understanding of the general importance of the study of audiences to media and film studies and be able to contextualise this historically and cross-culturally
    • Gain a clear appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of the main theories of audiences and media reception
    • Learn how to examine the presuppositions of different theoretical approaches and become familiar with handling mutually contradictory arguments
    • Have had the opportunity to analyse the relationship between academic writing on audiences and the experience of being a member of an audience


    Not offered in 2024

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system
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