#CoursesGalore: Communication

Dr Patricia KL Goon lecturer in communication and cultural studies from Monash University Malaysia shares her advice to coursesmalaysia.com about communication studies.
Dr Patricia KL Goon
Lecturer, Communication and Cultural Studies, Monash University Malaysia

So what exactly is Communication Studies?

To begin, a good question to ask first would be: which career fields are open to you with a degree in communication? Here's a short list in alphabetical order: academia, advertising, administration, community affairs, corporate communication and consultancy, copywriting, counselling, corporate liaison, cultural studies, education and media services, editing and publishing, film-production services, government, hospitality, humanitarian organisations, journalism, non-governmental organisations, organisational management and development, policy-making, politics, public relations, publicity, publishing, research, speech-writing, television and radio, script production and writing.

In other words, a degree in communication will get you into the areas of arts, mass media, popular culture, public affairs and just about any field where information and people meet.

This is because communication studies provide the types of skills vital - now more than ever - to the information-culture which is the world of the 21st century. Communication professionals are people who analyse and act in the interfaces between people and public, history and contemporary life, markets and information flows, popular culture and art. They work in almost every area of industry, government, and cultural life.

Is communication for you?

To determine if communication studies would suit you, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you ever dreamt of writing a best-selling novel?
  • Do you like to read and think about issues and what changes are needed?
  • Are you interested in people and cultures and how they work?
  • Do you like to create (stories, plays, web pages, pictures, etc)?
  • Are you imaginative?
  • Do you enjoy interacting with people?
  • Have you ever wondered why people think and act the way they do?
  • Are you interested in the issues of media, news-reporting and how the 'truth' gets processed?
  • Do you like history, politics, philosophy, literature, sociology, and popular culture (films, TV, Internet, music etc)?
  • Do you enjoy science-fiction, fantasy, role-playing games or surfing the Web?
  • Do you wonder what technological change will bring in a few years, and how that will affect people and cultures?
  • Would you like to see more equality between the genders, the races, the classes and the world's cultures?
  • Do you wonder about the power of statistics?
  • Have you ever found yourself troubled about 'black and white' issues or simple answers?
  • And have you ever wondered why the world is the way it is now, and if things could be different?

What do you study in communication?

If you have answered 'yes' to any of these questions, communication studies may suit you very well because it is very much concerned with all of these issues - not just in the what and how, but in the whys. In other words, communication studies show you what is 'behind-the-scenes' in many things we take for granted, and how apparent 'truths' or things which seem natural to us are produced through cultural, historical or economic relations. The course shows you how ideology, industry and capitalism work, and how these processes shape people. Knowing how 'invisible' politics are produced is extremely important, because if you know how things work, then you can make a very real difference. A communication professional, in a very concrete way, is a powerful social force for change.

Students are taught to be specialists in analysis and critical observation and examination. You will learn writing techniques, information-processing skills and journalistic techniques and theory. You will be able to choose to do Asian and international studies, television and film studies, governmentality, policy studies, mass communication theory, creative writing, cultural and gender studies, popular culture studies, public relations theory and much more. You will be able to do units in history, contemporary fiction, textual analysis and semiotics. You will learn about the impact of technology and the Internet upon the modern human, and about the 'information subject' which all of us are becoming. Options are diverse.

What a degree in communication will produce is a professional who will be able to move between and across many different environments, because your skills will be both specialised and flexible. Your knowledge will be multi-disciplinary, your professional range both regional and global, and your social analysis multi-cultural. 

That's just a very brief description of what a career in communication can offer you!