A Cheat Sheet to the Comms Majors

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Flashback to UTS Open Day, when you were wandering around the Communications stalls, wondering - ‘what the heck’s a major?’, and ‘what do these involve’?

Just because you’ve picked since then, and you’re all enrolled and ready to go, doesn’t mean you know what’s in store. We’ve got you. Here’s a run down of all the majors and what to expect.

Journalism

Journalism’s hard work but is also so much fun. If you love stories, stick with it. You’ll learn heaps of new skills in the next few months, and it will feel like a trial by fire. But it’s worth it. Here are our best tips for your first subject, Stories from the Streets:

  • Don’t just email. Get used to calling people, and (politely) following up.

  • Be open to criticism! You’re going to make mistakes. Accept that.

  • Engage and find new ways of finding stories. By this, we mean: get Twitter. Read the news. Join community Facebook groups. Write for The Comma.

  • Don’t leave anything to the last minute, whether that’s finding interviewees, or learning to use the equipment.

Public Communication

Write as many notes as you can from the readings. When you're getting around to writing a post about the readings, the more information that you have on hand, the better. You’ll have more flexibility with picking and choosing what to include in your post. Brush up on structuring your arguments and essays. Here are our best tips for your first subject, Ecology of Public Communications:

  • Do your readings! They really help and the answers are right there for you.

  • Start things early. The assessments are really practical so getting on it nice and early is key.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask your tutor for feedback. It’s a missed opportunity to not draw on their knowledge and experience, and they really do help.

  • Doing well in your assessments can get you internships. Yes, really!

Media Arts and Production

Hire out the equipment, well before an assessment, and experiment with it in your own time. Put in some hours yourself so that you can nail the basics and really master the new techniques you'll learn in class. Here are our best tips for your first subject, Exploring Media Arts:

  • Attend the workshops and don’t hesitate to push your skills and experiment. You won’t get a comprehensive rundown on how to use each and every piece of software either, so go into the computer labs and have a play.

  • Give thoughtful feedback on assignments: simply, you give what you get.

  • Develop your idea further than just the first one in your head. Don't be afraid to bounce ideas around!

Music and Sound Design

First off, don’t be afraid to try new things. You're in a communications subject, which means you will learn things that have nothing to do with music: but the experience is rewarding because you can combine the two in second year when you write your own song. Here are our best tips for your first subject, Audio Cultures & Audio and Music Production:

  • Go to the lectures and tutorials. 50% of your assignments will be fed to you through what the teacher gives you.

  • It’s music, so it’s subjective. Get to know what your teacher thinks is good quality, so that for your assignments, you can mix it with your own style and still get that HD.

  • Learn the programs: Pro Tools, Audition and Logic. Forget about GarageBand. Get used to what the professionals are using out there and learn the different shortcuts of each, so that life at university will be easier for you.

  • Develop critical listening skills, so you’re able to identify each individual layer of sound in a song.

Creative Writing

The most important thing with creative writing is to have fun with it. You’ll be writing really regularly, and you’ll produce better work if you relax and don’t overthink it. You’ll learn to be a better editor in this major too. Here are our best tips for your first subject, Fictional Forms:

  • The major involves a lot of workshopping, where you’ll be having your work critiqued by the class, but it improves your writing so much that it’s genuinely worth it. Your work might be personal, but your peers’ workshopping comments aren’t intended to be personal.

  • Read some of your tutor’s writing - most are published writers. It will give you a sense of their own style and what they like: often, the writing we like is similar to our own.

  • Drafts, drafts, drafts! Your work can always improve. Go through your work with a fine toothed comb, and discipline will take you a long way. You’ll get sick of reading the same piece over and over, but it’s lots of drafts that will improve your work (and ability to cop constructive criticism) the most.

Social and Political Sciences

Being a fairly content based major, be sure to take notes on the readings because a few of your assessments will be extended responses to those. Here are our best tips for your first subject, Self and Society:

  • The subject covers a lot of interesting material that you delve back into later. If there’s a concept you don't understand, talk to friends, tutors and lecturers about it until you do.

  • A lot of the subject is class discussions, so when you finish doing a reading (or skimming the abstract, intro and conclusion), try and figure out your stance on the topic while it's all still fresh in your brain.

Digital and Social Media