The deadline for applications for Honours 2018 is 30 September, and should be done through the Wits enrolment centre. Students interested in doing Honours in Media Studies should be sure to apply for that programme and NOT Honours in Journalism & Media Studies.
Students take four courses during the year (one core course and one elective per semester). The electives listed below may be subject to change. Each student is assigned a supervisor during the first block and must submit a 10,000 word research report at the end of the second semester.
Critical Media Analysis
The course explores critical theories and analytical approaches to the context and production of media content as constructed narratives and representations in a range of media genres and the implications for audiences and the media's role in reproducing or contesting power relations in society. The course aims to bring together the theoretical and practical elements of researching media institutions, texts and audiences. The course strengthens and consolidates theoretical knowledge gained from undergraduate media studies courses and methodologically prepares students for media research.
African Media Systems
The course seeks to provide students with a critical understanding of the roles of the media in African contexts and to enable students to write research reports on African media systems. The topics include, among others, the institutional roles of the media in relation to democratisation and development, issues of media freedom, historical development of the media, media structures, media content and audiences and policy and regulatory environments.
Global Cinema and Society
This course introduces students to a range of contemporary feature films from varying countries around the world, taking in Africa, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. It offers an introduction to critical methods within film studies and emphasises the ideological underpinnings of popular cinema across the world. The selected films are used as a means of discussing the way in which cinema both depicts and impacts on global social issues including race, gender, sexuality, class, labour, religion and the tensions between tradition and modernity. The course places South African media production in conversation with film industries elsewhere in Africa, the global South and the rest of the world.
Sociology of News Production in African Languages
This course introduces students to theories of news production and contexts/factors affecting the production of such particular texts and related sociolinguistics theories. After synthesizing the two theoretical frameworks, students will be required to identify and respond critically to issues which are pertinent to African language media productions in a South African context. Students will choose a medium (e.g. television, magazine, newspaper, radio etc) that they will focus on and from which they will present a seminar paper and submit a written essay based on the seminar presented.
The aim of this course is to introduce students to Discourse Sociolinguistics, a strand of research which focuses on unveiling the ways in which power and ideology operate in society through language. Therefore this strand of sociolinguistics is more firmly grounded in the analysis of actual problems facing societies and attempts to integrate social theory into the study of language. The course will look at both analytical tools and different theoretical frameworks for the study of language.
This course introduces students to the economic structures of commercial media, cultural and creative industries. The course explores questions to do with ownership, profit structures, marketing and corporate communications, labour and social responsibility from Marxist and managerialist angles, thereby equipping students to both understand how media industries function and to think critically about the role of media economics in culture and society.
Media and Gender
This course introduces students to a variety of theories and concepts around gender and the media. Much research has gone into showing the ways in which mass media circulate images of men, women and transgender(ed) people that are limiting, oppressive and violent. At the same time, some African/postcolonial feminist research has highlighted the limitations of focusing on numbers of women journalists and office-bearers since increasing numerical representation does not automatically translate into more nuanced gendered representations in all facets of the media. Literature on the media and sexuality, which covers representations of masculinities and femininities as well as varied media idioms around subaltern sexualities (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) informed by developments within interdisciplinary Queer, Feminist/womanist and Postcolonial Studies is of paramount importance here. Strands within Media Studies and/or Cultural Studies have also pointed to the manner in which media outlets co-create, recycle and reinforce larger public sphere understandings of how gender works.
Media and Politics
Sections and topics:
This course deals with the news media in South Africa and Politics. Some of the sections and topics include:
Media and Transformation (What does Transformation mean: from what to what?; what kind of race and gender transformation is there in newsrooms, at board level, at company and ownership level, in the content of media); Media and Race (how does the media cover race, what are the race issues in media), Media and Diversity (a look at Community Media's contribution to diversity), Media Freedom of Expression and Censorship (what kind of freedom of expression do we have in South Africa), the Case of Huffington Post and Shelley Garland in light of the The Press Code of Ethics, and Fake News.
Take a look at previous honours research topics here