ATS2440 - The public sphere - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Communications and Media Studies

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Zala Volcic


Dr Zala Volcic

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2019 (On-campus)


  • Second semester 2019 (On-campus)


Twelve credit points of first-year Arts units.




This unit introduces a key theoretical concept in the field of media and communications studies - the public sphere - and attends to key questions in media studies: what does media contribute to the realm of rational debate and how does this contribution facilitate public understanding of, and input to, policy and governance? In addressing these questions the subject raises important matters concerned with citizenship, the rise of political populism globally, individual response to public issues and the relationship between opinion and informed debate. It tracks the emergence of the theory of the public sphere, analyses the multiple uses and related applications of the concept, and explains how the public sphere relates to traditional and new communications and media environments.


Upon successful completion of the unit, students will be able to

  1. outline the emergence and historical development of the concept of a public sphere;
  2. research and analyse the role of the media in communicating politics in both formal and informal contexts;
  3. nominate and explain contemporary media developments or issues that reflect the condition of the public sphere and structure and inform understandings of that concept;
  4. display evidence of written and verbal knowledge and critical thinking skills.


Within semester assessment: 60% + Exam: 40%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study