Communication and Media Studies in Monash University

Studying Communication and Media Studies in Monash University Malaysia’s School of Arts and Social Sciences was an eye-opening experience. There, I learned just how much the media shapes our worldview without us knowing. It taught me how media messages are constructed and it made me aware of how we need to look beyond the surface of what is being fed to us. Learning this was an enthralling experience for me. In fact, I enjoyed my studies so much I later went on to pursue an extra year of further study with an Honours Degree. Now I work as a copywriter for an advertising agency and I know first-hand how my education has contributed to my current employment.

I remember the first time I sat in my Media Studies lecture theatre. I was filled with great anticipation as my lecturer walked us through our course structure and expected assignment submissions. We had to attend a certain number of tutorial classes a week, as well as complete a list of set readings. Students had to come to class ready to talk about and debate key ideas in the readings. Fruitful discussions happened when everyone had something to contribute. Much like how office meetings become so much more effective when everyone collaborates and contributes. This practice in class not only taught us discipline, but also the critical thinking skills necessary for taking in complex ideas and communicating them in a way our classmates could understand.

In our classes, we were trained to form original thoughts and opinions - nothing was spoon-fed. We had to think deeply about the things we read. This skill was definitely something I brought to the workplace. As an advertising professional, I have to understand and translate clients’ briefs into executable ideas, as well as repackage our team’s solutions for the clients in a clear, marketable way. At the end of the day, the consumer has to understand what we are trying to communicate about the product in the first read of the ad.

There were also presentations in class that honed our speaking and communication skills – two extremely important qualities in the workplace. As a copywriter, I present ideas to clients as well as win pitches for my company. My experience of presenting ideas to a classroom filled with diverse individuals helped shaped my confidence and ability to communicate to people of different backgrounds. As an aside, I am also often asked to host and moderate events, as well as engage in emcee gigs in my free time.

Being a Communication and Media Studies graduate is not for the faint of heart. Many people think it is an “easy” course, but this could not be further from the truth. For example, we learn that even a simple printed poster should not be taken at face value. It was crafted to send an intended message. In fact, all media is a manufactured product. For example, a simple news article involves a team of reporters, writers, editors. It goes through gatekeepers and shareholders, suppliers and distributors, all before reaching the end reader. This news manufacturing works to ensure the news received achieves the intended goal – whether to inform, influence or generate profit. In the end, biases and different perspectives in each publication exist because of these different actors involved.

In my line of work, I have become the one that manufactures “the message”. I brand and market products, look at different audiences, and strategise the best way to speak to our client’s customers. I work with designers, suppliers, account executives, my bosses, as well as with the client, all to achieve a well crafted message. As a copywriter, it is my job to ensure the crafted message attracts the right customer for the brand. I also think about the best medium for each product based on the target audience. More and more, organisations require their staff to look beyond the surface, think creatively and critically. At work, communication and collaboration are the name of the game.

We also looked at the different ways of thinking about the media. In class we analysed the way media messages informed our opinions about race, gender, different social classes, groups, countries, politics, sports, etc. – all of which are constructed by the information we have received from the media. Even if I had not gone on to work in the media, I gained valuable insights of the world and a truly global perspective that broadened my worldview. I loved being a student in this university and I loved learning from its team of passionate lecturers. I was not disappointed in the way my life and employment turned out. Studying Communication and Media Studies in Monash was an enriching experience that contributed greatly to my current employment.

Jowee Tee, alumna from School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University Malaysia. To find out more about the programs offered, please refer to the following courses: