About the course

What is news and how does it shape our understanding of the world? At a moment in which misinformation and "fake news" are matters of serious concern, studying the history of news can help us to better understand the stakes of recent changes in the media landscape.

About the course

From handwritten newsletters and ballads sung on the street to printed newspapers and telegraphic dispatches; from coffeehouses and reading rooms to radio broadcasts and social media - this Summer Intensive will consider how changes in technology, politics, and culture have transformed the production and circulation of news. Along the way we will examine recurring debates about press freedom, access to information, the proper role of journalists, and the effects of news consumption on individuals and society.

Learning outcomes

Through a combination of lectures and discussions, this course will provide insight into important trends in the history of news over the last 500 years. Drawing examples from several European countries, the United Kingdom, and the United States, we will:

  • discuss changes in the way news was produced, distributed, and experienced by people;
  • learn about the factors that have shaped the circulation of news, including the role of censorship, the expansion of postal and telegraph networks, the business strategies of publishers, the practices of journalists and readers, and the growing power of advertisers and technology companies;
  • gain a sense of how different media and modes of communication have shaped the way people understand current events;
  • and identify the most important developments affecting the production and circulation of information, and to discuss recurring concerns about the sources, reliability, and significance of news.

Course information

This Summer Intensive is perfect for those who want to learn more about the history of news and the origins of our current information society. No prior study of history or journalism is required, and this course is non-accredited.
Faculty of Arts Community Education programs provide a unique opportunity to delve into a particular subject, learn about it from expert presenters, and debate its biggest questions with a room full of like minds. The one-week course structure of our Summer Intensives enables a more immersive experience with the chance to engage in a sustained conversation across sequential sessions. You'll have greater access to expert presenters with more time for questions and discussion.

Daily schedule

  • 9.00am-9.30am: Arrival and registration with tea and coffee
  • 9.30am-10.30am: Presentation from course leader
  • 10.30am-10.45am: Morning tea break with light refreshments
  • 10.45am-12.00pm: Discussion session with guest expert(s)


$350 / $300*

Prices are GST inclusive
Individual session tickets are not available for this program as it is designed to be enjoyed as a course.
*University of Melbourne students, staff and alumni

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Macmahon Ball Theatre, Old Arts (Building 149), The University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010

Image: Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, September 3, 1881.