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COM3160 - Communications ethics, policy and law

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader(s): Elizabeth Burns Coleman


Berwick First semester 2009 (Day)
Caulfield First semester 2009 (Day)
Clayton First semester 2009 (Day)


In this unit students investigate the idea that 'information should be free' in arts, 'everyday' communications and the media. It will explore the justifications for freedom of expression and its moral limits, intellectual property, and moral rights for artists. Topics covered will include: the role of the media in a democracy; gossip and the use of celebrity images; defamation and vilification; censorship and representations of sex and violence; intellectual property, plagiarism and piracy. The topics will be chosen to have broad application by students enrolled in other areas of ECPS, as well as in Media.


On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate knowledge of key laws and codes regulating media and communication industries and how these laws and codes influence behaviour
  2. understand how debates about communications and the media influence the development of regulations and codes
  3. critically assess the arguments that justify freedom of expression, and the reasons this freedom may be limited
  4. understand basic moral frameworks and identify moral issues
  5. articulate a coherent position about a current issue relating to freedom of expression
  6. explain their ideas and justify their conclusions in oral and written contexts.

A higher level will be expected of third-year students in terms of the depth of research, integration of diverse sources, and sophistication of argument.


Freedom of communication essay (1500 words): 25%
Research essay (2500 words): 45%
Exam (one hour): 20%
Participation and attendance: 10%

Contact hours

One 1-hour lecture and one 1-hour seminar per week


First-year Communications and Media Studies sequence or other sequence approved by unit coordinator



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