Aspiring communicators offered new study pathway

September 6, 2016

Aspiring communicators offered new study pathway

Bachelor of Communication Studies student Zavier Smith, 20, in AUT’s media centre. Photo: Brittany Keogh

A new communications major to is to be introduced to the University of Auckland’s Bachelor of Arts degree next year.

Arts faculty assistant dean (academic) Dr Stephen Winter, who will lead the new programme, described it as “a melding of communications work”.

He said students had been requesting a communications programme for some time and staff were also keen to teach it.

Graduates would leave university with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, which will be different to communication courses offered at other tertiary institutes. “It’s not a communications degree, it’s an arts degree with a major in communications.”

Dr Winter said the university was aiming to balance practical and academic work.

Out of the 360 total points required for a BA, students will complete 255 credits from the communication major. In other BA subjects, students need only 135 points from their major.

The high points value allowed students to benefit from specialised option papers as well as the broader core papers, ensuring they had an understanding of the wider field of communications in addition to specific skills and knowledge needed in the media sector where they intended to work.

As well as completing the 10 core papers, which include advertising, social media and visual communication, students will be able to study Māori media, politics and journalism courses.

Dr Winter hoped 200 students would enrol in the major next year. “That would be fantastic,” he said.

But it was unlikely Zavier Smith would be one of them. The 20-year-old first-year Bachelor of Communication Studies (BCS) student at AUT said he was aware of Auckland’s new communications programme, but planned to remain at AUT because of its well-regarded reputation in the field.

The head of AUT’s School of Communications, Associate Professor Alan Cocker, said he was doubtful AUT students would cross the road to the University of Auckland to study the new major and that the two universities had different roles.

“I don’t think this dramatically changes that.

“For [AUT] to remain attractive we need to keep doing what we do well. I don’t think our approach should be ‘well somebody else is doing this, so we need to counter that’.”

AUT’s BCS gave students the opportunity to specialise in a particular area of the industry, while Auckland’s BA in communications offered a broad overview of the field, he said.

Dr Cocker told Te Waha Nui he would like to see the universities working together to benefit all students; those who completed an arts degree in communications at the University of Auckland could move on to more specialised postgraduate study at AUT.

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