Course Title: Thinking about Advertising: History and Philosophy Method

Part A: Course Overview

Course ID: 030249

Course Title: Thinking about Advertising: History and Philosophy Method

Credit Points: 12

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


335H Applied Communication


Sem 2 2006

Course Coordinator: Dr Jackie Dickenson

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 5068

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 6, Level 2, Room 24

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment - please email for a suitable time

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

No pre-requisites

Course Description

This course draws attention to the importance of undertaking substantial research before embarking on solving advertising problems and introduces students to two significant research methods and processes: historical theory and practice, and philosophical enquiry.

In Part 1: Historical Theory and Practice (Weeks 1-6), students will learn to understand and use the principal methods of historical research and analysis, applying these to advertising sources and materials. Assessment will take the form of tutorial assignments based on class discussions, and participants will also develop an individual research project.

In Part 2: Philosophical Enquiry (Weeks 7-13), students will discover approaches to philosophical analysis and how they affect the art of advertising. Assessment will take the form of an individual assignment. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

 Part I: Historical Theory and Practice (Weeks 1-6)
This seminar series introduces students to the most useful method of examining the construction of a brand over time – historical research. Students will also be introduced to the key debates in historical theory. They will be asked to reflect on advertising’s relationship with social change and the effect this has on the construction of a brand. They will have hands-on experience of archival, journal and newspaper research and/or conducting oral histories.

Part 2: Philosophical Enquiry (Weeks 7-13)
This seminar series introduces students to the methods and processes of philosophical enquiry. In particular, the seminars will discuss the application of these methods to advertising and marketing.

Exploring issues such as ‘Is Marketing a Science?’ requires students to sharpen their thinking skills. Students will also be exposed to key philosophical debates that are relevant to understanding advertising’s impact on consumers

On successful completion of Part 1, students will understand the importance of undertaking substantial research before attempting to solve advertising problems. They will have been introduced to a range of historical research methods, and to the major theoretical debates in
historiography. They will be familiar with the processes for conducting archival and newspaper research, and oral history. They will understand the conventions of the historical essay, including sustaining an argument and the preparation of a bibliography.

On successful completion of Part 2, students will have a range of thinking tools that can be used to help understand many of the issues addressed in the advertising literature, particularly as it relates to assumptions about human behaviour and the scientific approach to enquiry. They will understand the fundamentals of philosophical analysis and the associated approach to problem solving that will be useful in many aspects of academic study and everyday life.

Overview of Learning Activities

Students will be introduced to material in seminars, and will engage in discussion and analysis in class. There will be class activities in analysis and research, guest speakers and a field trip.

Overview of Learning Resources

There are no prescribed texts. Students will use the RMIT Library on line catalogue to locate relevant journal articles, and they will also consult philosophical resources on the internet.
A recommended reading list is provided in Part B.

Overview of Assessment

Tutorial exercises and written Assignments