Postgraduate Courses

FAM4041S Media & the Public Domain

NQF credits: 24 at HEQSF level 8.

Course convener

Professor Adam Haupt

Entrance requirements

Acceptance for an Honours programme.

Course outline

The key point of departure for Media and the Public Domain is that free speech rights in a democracy can be undermined by two nemeses. On the one hand, too much state control of the media can stifle the free circulation of information and, thereby impoverish the public domain. On the other hand, too much corporate control of the media can impede the unfettered flow of information and, thereby, limit citizen’s ability to make informed decision about the common good. This course pays particular attention to the ways in which corporate interests influence approaches to intellectual property and key changes in technology, often at the expense of the public interest. Media and the Public Domain explores debates about copyright, cultural appropriation and access to knowledge in relation to newer technologies like P2P platforms (e.g. Napster and Kazaa), social networking platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) as well as the non-commercial sharing of cracked software, games, films, and music. The specific focus of the course will be upon the music and film industries’ responses to what it terms “piracy” of intellectual property in the digital age.

DP requirements

Class attendance and timeous completion of all assignments. A DP warning will be issued if students miss two seminars without satisfactory explanation (e.g. medical certificates). Students will be denied a DP certificate if they then miss a third seminar.


Major assignment (3000 words) 40%, minor assignment (2000 words) 30%, seminar presentations and essay (2000 words) 30%.