Communications Dissertation Topics

Example communications dissertation topic 1:

Can the use of micro-blogging and texting in the Arab Spring be replicated in North Korea?

This dissertation investigates the use of micro-blogging and texting within the revolutions of the Arab Spring and explores whether such technology could be used by North Koreans to overthrow the regime. In so doing it looks into three distinct aspects. First, it considers their use as a forum for discussion and in so doing incorporates discussion of the theories of Habermas relating to the public sphere. Secondly, it evaluates such technology as a means of communication between individuals opposed to the regime. Thirdly, it deliberates the effectiveness of messaging as a tool by which to inform the outside world as to internal strife – given the state control of the media in North Korea. This is a dissertation that would benefit from the conducting of interviews with those who were involved in the Arab Spring as well as North Korean dissidents, and would, accordingly, combine both primary and secondary data through the use of both qualitative and quantitative research techniques.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Blow, B.J., Blom, R. and Freedman, E. (2012). ‘Cyber-dissent and power: Negotiating online boundaries in repressitarian regimes’, International Journal of Information Communication Technologies and Human Development, Vol. 4(2), pp. 1-19.
  • Cha, V.D. and Anderson, N.D. (2012). ‘A North Korean Spring?’, The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 35(1), pp. 7-24.
  • Katz, J.E. (2011). ‘Communication perspectives on social networking and citizen journalism challenges to traditional newspapers’, 22nd European Regional Conference of the International Telecommunications Society (ITS2011), Budapest, 18-21 September, 2011.

Example communications dissertation topic 2:

A discussion of the homogenisation of language through texting.

Texting is often derided or criticised, especially within educational circles, for contributing to poor spelling, syntax and grammar. However, little study appears to have been done on its role in homogenising the language in such a manner as to remove dialectic speak. This dissertation seeks to address this phenomenon. Concentrating upon two specific areas of the United Kingdom (the North-East and the East Midlands ) this dissertation interviews texters aged 18-24 and inquires why the regional words they use in speech such as ‘mam’ and ‘bairn’ (mother and baby respectively) and phrases such as ‘ey up m’duck’ (hello, how are you) are not necessarily used by them within their text speech.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Janse, M. and Sijmen, T. (eds) (2003). Language death and language maintenance : Theoretical, practical and descriptive approaches. Amsterdam: John Benjamin.
  • Robertson, R. (1995). ‘Glocalization: Time-space and homogeneity-heterogeneity’. In, Featherstone, M., Lash, S. and Robertson, R. (eds), Global modernities. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, pp. 25-44.
  • Shortis, T. (2009). ‘Language evolution in txting environments’. In, Wheeler, S., Connected minds, emerging cultures: Cybercultures in online learning. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, pp. 225-246.

Example communications dissertation topic 3:

The appropriateness of Facebook as a global communication tool for youth aged seven to seventeen.

In September 2012 it was announced that the social networking website, Facebook (founded in 2004) had reached one billion users. If Facebook were seen as a country, then this population mass would make it the world’s third largest country, behind China (1.5 billion) and India (1.2 billion). Of those billion account-holders, 7.5 million are aged below thirteen, and 5 million below the age of ten; yet it is contrary to Facebook’s terms of service that children under the age of thirteen may hold accounts. This dissertation examines whether such terms of service are appropriate, or whether in fact the use of Facebook is acceptable for children above the age of seven (having attained a basic level of literacy) in achieving greater levels of global understanding. The thesis particularly focuses on whether public protection safeguards should be employed for all users, regardless of age.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • De Souza, Z. and Dick, G.N. (2010). ‘Disclosure of information by children in social networking: Not just a case of “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine”‘, International Journal of Information Management, Vol. 29(4), pp. 255-261.
  • Livingstone, S. and Brake, D.R. (2010). ‘On the rapid rise of social networking sites: New findings and policy implications’, Children & Society, Vol. 24(1), pp. 75-83.
  • O’Keeffe, G.S. and Clarke-Pearson, K. (2011). ‘The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families’, Pediatrics, Vol. 127(4), pp. 800-804.

Example communications dissertation topic 4:

Inclusivity within communication: Facing the deaf and mute challenge.

Though the world is often portrayed as becoming ‘smaller through communication’, with people becoming ‘ever more connected’, such comments largely ignore the day-to-day lives, exchanges, and communication difficulties faced by deaf and mute communities. This thesis explores whether this is a reality that is in sharp contrast to political pronouncements of inclusivity and community cohesion, or whether changes in technology – such as social networking sites and texting – have seen greater inclusivity for the deaf in the wider community. This dissertation seeks to suggest practical steps across the multiple disciplines of communication, technology, education, and disability studies that include greater communication and IT training in school, and the need for compulsory training in sign language in all primary and secondary schools.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Boyle, C., Scriven, B., Durning, S. and Downes, C. (2011). ‘Facilitating the learning of all students: The ‘professional positive’ of inclusive practice in Australian primary schools’, Support for Learning, Vol. 26, pp. 72-78.
  • Foster, S., Mudgett-Decaro, P., Bagga-Gupta, S., De Leuw, L., Domfors, L.-Å., Emerton, G., Lampropoulou, V., Ouellette, S., Van Weert, J. and Welch, O. (2003). ‘Cross-cultural definitions of inclusion for deaf students: A comparative analysis’, Deafness & Education International, Vol. 5(1), pp. 1-19.
  • Hamill, A. C. and Stein, C. H. (2011). ‘Culture and empowerment in the deaf community: An analysis of internet weblogs’, Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 21(5), pp. 388-406.

Example communications dissertation topic 5:

Pan globalism within news agencies: Too much communication in too few hands?

Using the events that led up to the establishment of the Leveson Inquiry, this dissertation looks at the role of news agencies and pan global news corporations. In so doing it compares levels of editorial independence within the US, UK and Australia by comparing the scope and diversity in editorial comments in two distinct time frames: the period 1920 – 1930 (in which the majority of news titles were independently owned entities) and 2002-2012. This dissertation questions whether it is appropriate, given recent events, for the owners of today’s dominant national newspapers to own titles across the globe (given the control over the dissemination of information that this may empower them with) and asks what can be done, if anything, to break up the effective pan-global monopoly of news media interests.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Fuchs, C. (2010). ‘New imperialism: Information and media imperialism’, Global Media and Communication, Vol. 6(1), pp. 33-60.
  • Golan, G.J., Johnson, T.J. and Wanta, W. (2010). International media communication in a global age. New York: Routledge.
  • Wahl-Jorgenson, K. and Hanitzsch, T. (2009). Handbook of journalism studies. Abingdon: Routledge.

Example communications dissertation topic 6:

‘The more we interact, the less we speak’? A survey of personal communication patterns.

Utilising the theoretical academic arguments that underpin discussions relating to how the internet and email have/or have not ‘killed’ letter writing ( x, y and z, 2001), this dissertation is observes daily interactions amongst a group of twenty second year undergraduates studying at the University of Reading. Asking each to keep a diary of interactions with regard to the planning and establishment of social events, this dissertation seeks to further the hypothesis that ‘text’ has replaced ‘speech’ as the dominant means by which social interactions are planned and executed. This is a dissertation that, accordingly, combines the use of communication devices and techniques with aspects of sociology and anthropology and would be particularly suited to a student undertaking combined honours.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Crabtree, J., Nathan, M. and Roberts, S. (2003). Mobile UK: Mobile phones and everyday life. London: The Work Foundation.
  • Höflich, J. and Gebhardt, J. (2005). ‘Changing cultures of written communication: Letter — E-mail — SMS’, The Inside Text, Vol. 4(1), pp. 9-31.
  • Tse, A.Y-H. (2012). ‘Impacts of short message service texting on university students in Malaysia’, Asian Social Science, Vol. 8(1), pp. 107-110.

Example communications dissertation topic 7:

Representations of British Muslim clerics within the British press in the wake of the July 7th 2005 bombings.

Evaluating journalistic practices, racial stereotyping and issues of potential scaremongering, this dissertation looks at the representation of British Muslim clerics within the British press subsequent to the 7/7 bombings in London. In so doing this study makes explicit reference to the differences deployed within tabloid newspapers at a national level and those in the provinces. Accordingly, with regard to both editorial footage and photographs accompanying stories, and utilising discourse analysis, the thesis contrasts the seeming fascination of elements of the national press with the hook of Abu Hamza al-Misri (which appeared to be a focal point for issues of Muslim identity and faith) with the coverage and approach adopted in local newspapers in Bradford and Halifax.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Green, L. and Kabir, N. (2007). ‘What the British papers said on the first anniversary of the London bombing’. The Proceedings of the Australian New Zealand Communication Association Conference, 5-7th July 2007, La Trobe University, Melbourne.
  • Poole, E. (2002). Reporting Islam: Media representations and British Muslims. London: I.B. Tauris.
  • Wood, C. and Finlay, W.M.L. (2008). ‘British National Party representations of Muslims in the month after the London bombings: Homogeneity, threat, and the conspiracy tradition’, British Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 47(4), pp. 707-726.

Example communications dissertation topic 8:

Contrasting the news prioritisation agenda and its effect on presidential image making: A case study of Robert Mugabe.

Using contemporary and archive footage from both the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), this comparative dissertation evaluates journalistic priorities in the shaping of news and the effects that it can have on the projected images of leaders. Contrasting therefore incidences such as Peter Tatchell’s attempted arrest of Mugabe in October 1999 with the President’s (much vaunted by ZBC) rallying cry of 2008, in which he declared that he would ‘never, never, never, never surrender… Zimbabwe is mine’, this dissertation seeks not only to comment on how journalistic priorities may be influenced by their own agendas and preconceptions but how these also tie into larger institutionalised issues of power and strategy within the news industry.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Chari, T. (2010). ‘Salience and silence: Representation of the Zimbabwean crisis in the local press’, African Identities, Vol. 8(2), pp. 131-150.
  • Wahldahl, R. (2005). ‘Mediated political cleavages: Zimbabwe’s 2000 election seen through the media’, Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies, Vol. 19(1/2), pp. 61-73.
  • Willems, W. (2005). ‘Remnants of Empire? British media reporting on Zimbabwe’, Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, November, pp. 91-108.

Example communications dissertation topic 9:

A question of presentation: A review of presidential debates 2012.

The presidential debate between Nixon and Kennedy was a watershed in political communication, with those who heard the debate on the wireless (rather than watching it on TV) convinced that Nixon had performed better. Given the importance that presentational communication has held for presidential candidates ever since, this dissertation reviews the exchanges between Romney and Obama in the 2012 presidential election race. Through use of contents analysis as well as the quantitative measuring of respondent’s views of their respective performances (analysed using SPSS) this dissertation is on an up-to-date topic that would benefit from being undertaken by a communication studies student with an interest in American politics.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Benoit, W.L., Hanson, G.J. and Verser, R.M (2003). ‘A meta-analysis of the effects of viewing U.S. presidential debates’, Communication Monographs, Vol. 70(4), pp. 335-350.
  • Druckman, J. N. (2003). ‘The power of television images: The first Kennedy-Nixon debate revisited’, Journal of Politics, Vol. 65(2), pp. 559-571.
  • Whitesides, J. (2012). ‘Mitt Romney gaining, but Obama still leads: Reuters analysis’, Huffington Post: Politics, 21st October 2012.

Example communications dissertation topic 10:

British media coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games and public perceptions: Before and during.

This study first investigates the media agenda in the four months preceding the hosting of the summer Olympics and in so doing also charts the public perceptions of the Games at that point. Through the use of an agenda-setting methodological framework, this dissertation combines content analysis and a street survey in Wolverhampton to understand the media agenda and the public’s reaction to it. Thereafter, in the second part of the dissertation, the initial agenda and perception of the Games is contrasted with that which followed the Opening Ceremony (i.e. during the Games themselves). By using the same data collection techniques this dissertation hopes to show the power of changing media agenda on public perceptions.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Dowell, B. (2012). ‘Olympic Games: Media casts its biggest-ever net’, The Observer, 29th July 2012.
  • Hiller, H.H. and Wanner, R.A. (2011). ‘Public opinion in host Olympic cities: The case of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games’, Sociology, Vol. 45(5), pp. 883-899.
  • Ritchie, J.R.B. and Aitken, C.E. (1985). ‘Olympulse II – Evolving resident attitudes toward the 1988 Olympic Winter Games’, Journal of Travel Research, Vol. 23(3), pp. 28-33.

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