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CMS8010 Communication Research Methodology

Semester 2, 2013 Online Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Arts
School or Department : School of Humanities and Communication
Version produced : 21 July 2014

Contents on this page


Examiner: Jill Lawrence
Moderator: Richard Gehrmann

Other requisites

Students will require access to e-mail and have internet access to UConnect for this course.


Masters level students proceeding to a range of arts disciplines media, communication, public relations or editing & publishing dissertations and research projects require knowledge of a range of methods, both qualitative and quantitative. The researcher needs to be able to identify a research problem, decide on research objectives and select appropriate method/s to carry out the research.


This course examines, from both practical and critical perspectives, a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods relevant to professional and academic needs in the communications, social science and wider arts field. These methods may include focus groups, content and semiotic text analysis, in-depth interview and survey methods. The course examines these methods in the context of current research issues and practices. The course then addresses the processes involved in commencing a research project, the ethics of research and questions of validity and reliability.


On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. identify and critically analyse a variety of research methods currently employed by researchers in relevant fields of interest;
  2. evaluate qualitative and/or quantitative research data, in the context of declared methodological frameworks;
  3. demonstrate an understanding of ethical issues in relation to research projects;
  4. demonstrate an understanding of the political contexts in which research is carried out;
  5. utilise a range of methods to assess the validity and reliability of a research process.


Description Weighting(%)
1. SECTION 1 RESEARCH CONTEXTS, THEORIES AND GENERAL APPROACHES The political and ethical contexts of research practice. Overview of qualitative and quantitative approaches to research - major research paradigms 20.00
2. SECTION 2: RESEARCH METHODS Ethnographic methods in research, including: - sampling; - interview techniques; - focus group techniques; - participant observation. Statistical methods in research, including: - sampling; - social surveys; - questionnaire design; - opinion sampling; - measurement Textual analysis, including; - content analysis and qualitative textual analysis. 20.00
3. SECTION 3: MULTI-METHOD APPROACHES APPLIED TO SPECIFIC CONTEXTS Audience/Readership/Target Population: quantitative and qualitative approaches to identifying, characterising and analysing audiences and markets OR Public Relations research and organisational communications research. 20.00
4. SECTION 4: DATA ANALYSIS Analysing qualitative data; manual and computerised methods Analysing quantitative data: understanding statistical Methods; use of computerised methods such as SPSS 20.00
5. SECTION 5: RELIABLITY & VALIDITY Reliability and validity in quantitative and qualitative research 20.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • There are no texts or materials required for this course.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Bauer, M W & Gaskell, G (eds) 2000, Qualitative researching with text, image and sound: a practical handbook, Sage, London.
  • Cousin, G 2009, Researching Learning in Higher Education, Routledge, New York.
  • Creswell, JW & Clark, VLP 2007, Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research, Sage.
  • Creswell, JW 2008, Educational Research: Planning, Conducting and Evaluating Qualitative and Quantitative Research, 3rd edn, Pearson.
  • Creswell, JW 2009, Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches, 3rd edn, Sage.
  • Gall, MD, Gall, JP & Borg, WR 2007, Educational Research: An Introduction. (8th Edition). Pearson, Wimmer, R & Dominick, J 2012, Mass media research: an introduction, 10th edn, Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, CA.
  • Although a text is not set for this course it is recommended that students consider purchasing a research methodology text to suit their own purposes and to complement their future research.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Private Study 165.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
RESEARCH CRITIQUE 100 25 20 Sep 2013
PARTICIPATION AND ENGAGEMENT 100 15 25 Oct 2013 (see note 1)
RESEARCH DESIGN 100 40 25 Oct 2013

  1. Students can self-pace these tests throughout the semester.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration. Students must attend and complete the requirements of the Workplace Health and Safety training program for this course where required.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without (prior) approval of the examiner then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment may apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    As there are no examinations in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be despatched to USQ within 24 hours if required by the Examiner.

  3. In accordance with University Policy, the Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. If electronic submission of assessments is specified for the course, students will be notified of this in the course Introductory Book and on the USQ Study Desk. All required electronic submission must be made through the Assignment Drop Box located on the USQ Study Desk for the course, unless directed otherwise by the examiner of the course. The due date for an electronically submitted assessment is the date by which a student must electronically submit the assignment. The assignment files must be submitted by 11.55pm on the due date using USQ time (as displayed on the clock on the course home page; that is, Australian Eastern Standard Time).

  5. If the method of assessment submission is by written, typed or printed paper-based media students should (i) submit to the Faculty Office for students enrolled in the course in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail to the USQ for students enrolled in the course in the external mode. The due date for the assessment is the date by which a student must (i) submit the assessment for students enrolled in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail the assessment for students enrolled in the external mode.

  6. The Faculty will NOT normally accept submission of assessments by facsimile or email.

  7. Students who do not have regular access to postal services for the submission of paper-based assessments, or regular access to Internet services for electronic submission, or are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements prior to the submission date.

  8. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded one of the temporary grades: IM (Incomplete - Make up), IS (Incomplete - Supplementary Examination) or ISM (Incomplete -Supplementary Examination and Make up). A temporary grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non directed personal study.

  9. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination; IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

  10. Students may be assigned an "Incomplete" grade to signify that all the requirements of the course have not yet been met. Students who are graded "I" can pass the course by successfully completing such additional work as prescribed by the examiner by a given date. Students who have been awarded an IM, ISM, IDM or IDB grade must access information regarding further work to be completed, in the Student Centre of U Connect. The Grades Page in the Student Centre contains information about further work to be completed. Students who have not completed the additional work to the satisfaction of the examiner by the given date will receive the appropriate Failing grade.

Other requirements

  1. Students can expect that questions in assessment items in this course may draw upon knowledge and skills that they can reasonably be expected to have acquired before enrolling in the course. This includes knowledge contained in pre-requisite courses and appropriate communication, information literacy, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving or numeracy skills. Students who do not possess such knowledge and skills should not expect to achieve the same grades as those students who do possess them.