|Written by Tomaselli, Keyan|
The Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS)
Honours Study (4th level)
Please read this document in its entirety.
Our graduate students historically have come from a wide variety of disciplines, as well as tertiary institutions from across Africa (Botswana, DRC, Eritrea, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe etc.) and the world, specifically Norway, Europe, USA, Canada, India, Argentina etc. The entry threshold for consideration of applicants to Honours in CCMS/MECS is an aggregate minimum of 65% in the applicant’s previous Bachelors degree. We also look at the median mark attained over the applicant’s entire academic career. The standard against which the 65% is assessed is the norm established in the UKZN School’s own courses.
Why does the applicant want to study for an Honours?
a) If gaining competence in practical problem-solving technical skills is the objective, technical study might be the better option. Universities and technikons (or as they are now known, `universities of technology') offer different kinds of degrees, expect different kinds of learning, and measure different kinds of outcomes. The two kinds of learning can easily be integrated at graduate level university studies, where students from universities of technology (technikons) evidence systematic conceptual problem-solving ability. Honours study develops problem-solving approaches through theoretical and methodological skills.
b) An Honours concentrates on the acquisition of critical expertise, the development of problem-solving skills at the conceptual level, and shaping systematic ability to question prevailing assumptions, myths and ideas. Degrees with a primary emphasis on technical skills, or which lack modules on theory, research methods and the philosophy of science, are unlikely to adequately equip students for MA type study beyond the Honours. Certainly, talented individual students within such technical and/or technology courses may make the transition from the technical and practical/conceptual/professional quite easily. This depends on the individual student and on how s/he responds to an environment which emphasizes conceptual learning.
c) Students often enter Honours intending to terminate their graduate studies on the completion of this degree. Such students might prefer a good mix of professional and conceptual modules. The main criterion on module selection relates to students accepted to Honours who do not have an undergraduate media degree.
d) Students who do enter Honours not intending to proceed to an MA degree, however, often reconsider their options during their Honours year and then register for an MA. Please therefore give due attention to your module choices in relation to a likely MA dissertation topic.
e) Applications for graduate study close on October 31st. While late applications up to January 15th may be considered on their merits and in light of a convincing motivation, those accepted may not be able to start in the first semester as this depends on a variety of logistical factors. Starting mid-year is not advised due to the structure of the degree which assumes conceptual and methodological progression between the first and second semesters.
f) Students are requested to closely study the CCMS website as well as the MECS and CCMS pamphlets and the School’s curricula before applying. Many students apply to the Howard College (HC) programmes because they want to study advertising, corporate, organisational and marketing communication. Yet, the Howard College campus no longer offers these subjects. A lot of effort and time is wasted because applicants have not done their basic homework into what the degree actually offers. Choose the programme at which you want to study in terms of its strengths and in terms of your career and academic objectives, not because it is simply `there’.
Applicants who do not have a Bachelors degree may apply under Senate Rule Gr7(b) which offers a mechanism for exception. Such applicants will need to motivate clearly why they want to apply for the Honours degree and explain the relevance of their previous diploma or degree to the course for which they want to apply. The application should be lodged with the CCMS Postgraduate Administrator, and if considered eligible, the application is forwarded to the School Higher Degree and research Committee, the Head of School, and from there it goes to the Graduate Office for consideration under the auspices of Deputy Dean (Research). If successful, it is then considered by the Academic Affairs Board, which makes the final decision. In the event of acceptance, Board may stipulate particular requirements for registration. This will be done on a case by case basis. This is a lengthy bureaucratic process so the relevant applicants need to apply early.
Some Further Information
a) Honours and MA modules are worth 32 credits, which means that an average student should invest a total of 320 hours to reading, seminars, study, essays, writing and preparation for each module, over a 16 week period. One credit point equates to 10 hours of study time required.
b) There are occasions when seminars have to be rescheduled, or when compulsory film screenings may be switched with seminar periods, or when ad hoc seminars are scheduled at short notice for one reason or another. These occur for a variety of reasons: illness, films failing to arrive on time, equipment malfunctions, load shedding, unanticipated university closures or semester reschedulings, short-term visitors who arrive unannounced and from whom we invite contributions, the need to respond to student requests for extra seminars, and so on.
c) It is the students’ responsibility to keep themselves updated on programme activities related to their studies.
Please note that the academic year starts in February. CCMS is constituted as a full-time study programme. What we require from such applicants is the following:
a) A detailed CV highlighting your research (and professional) experience.
b) A detailed one page motivation arguing why you want to study at Honours level
c) Three academic references to support your candidacy. (Not necessary if a UKZN graduate)
d) A set of certified true transcripts of your previous degrees. (Not necessary if a UKZN graduate)
e) Any other documentation which will support your application.
f) A copy of a recent essay.
A staff committee will then assess the submitted documents and make a decision on applications during October/November. This decision will be forwarded to the School for its consideration.
Professor K.G. Tomaselli
The Centre for Communication, Media and Society