Faculty of Arts


Social Media

Please note: this is archived course information from 2021 for COMMS 204.


The rapid growth in social media since Facebook became public in 2006 has lead to significant changes in media ownership and broadcasting; interpersonal communication; journalism and publishing; politics and activism; marketing and promotion; conceptions of public and private; and the relation between online and offline. The course explores the rise of platforms like Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Tumblr, Tinder, Grinder, Pinterest, Tik Tok, YouTube and others to examine this important social and technological phenomenon.

We will consider the political economy of social media to look at the changing face of the media landscape as well as the important role social media play in the age of “info-capitalism” and developments in the shape of capitalism more broadly. The course also explores the ways in which social media have become increasingly central to all aspects of everyday communication raising questions about networks, friendships, surveillance, data ownership, free labour, celebrity and branding.

The course is both theoretical and historical, and aims to enable certain practical skills in the use of social media for purposes of social advocacy and marketing. By the end of the course students will:

  • Understand how social media relate to the history of the internet and the web
  • Be cognisant of the culture behind the social media revolution
  • Know what “Web 2.0” is and the type of media environment this term proposes
  • Have an awareness of the role attention plays in the current economy
  • Have an understanding of platforms
  • Have a critical awareness of the affordances of the different platforms
  • Have knowledge of important issues around surveillance and data ownership
  • Have a critical awareness of cyberbullying and trolling
  • Develop a critical understanding of micro-celebrity and self-branding
  • Have an awareness of how social media has changed journalistic practices
  • Understand the ways social media have contributed to political campaigns and resistance
  • Have a strong sense for the important role of participatory culture
  • Be aware of the complex role of users and user generated content
  • Be able to demonstrate an understanding of social marketing and the promotional role of social media
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to plan social marketing campaigns
  • Have knowledge of the ways social media are used in interpersonal relations
  • Have an understanding of the important role played by locative media
  • Be able to situate the development of social media in relation to a number of theories pertaining to the role of media technologies


Coursework Only

Availability 2021

Semester 2


Coordinator(s) Dr Neal Curtis


Coursework only


COMMS 204: 15.0 points


60 points at Stage I in BA courses 


FTVMS 235, 335

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