Monthly Archives: April 2014

MECS Students Graduate with Most Distinctions

Masters graduate Genevieve Phillips and her supervisor Prof Anton van der Hoven.

Masters graduate Genevieve Phillips and her supervisor Prof Anton van der Hoven.

On Monday 14 April, the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s College of Humanities, Pietermaritzburg, held their graduation ceremony at the Royal Agricultural Showgrounds.  The Department of Media and Cultural Studies was well represented with two Master’s, seven Honours and 54 Bachelor degrees awarded to their students.  However, the Department can also boast as having the most students in the College graduate with distinctions.

Ms Sarah Dawson was the only MA graduate in the School of Arts to qualify cum laude for her dissertation entitled Capturing ghosts and making them speak: Genre and the Asian horror film remake, and whose examiners described “the experience of writing (and reading) this dissertation […] an intriguing memory in an ongoing game that, although playful, also never ceases to be serious”.

In addition, Ms Tracy Webb was the only student to graduate summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Social Science in Pietermaritzburg, who, along with other students from Media and Cultural Studies, made up 66% of the distinctions in the School of Social Science Bachelor’s degree programme.  In the School of Arts, four out of the seven distinctions awarded for Bachelor Degrees were awarded to Media and Cultural Studies students.

Honours graduates Stephanie Sheik and Nikolai Pillay.

Honours graduates Stephanie Sheik and Nikolai Pillay.

When asked why students in the Department were successful, Ms Mellisa Muchena, who graduated cum laude with her Bachelor of Social Science degree, said that Media is a difficult subject, so it pushes you to do well and that overflows into your other subjects as well.

Lecturer in the Department, Ms Sandra Pitcher, said that these results were just reward for students, but more importantly, demonstrated the dedication of a small department to see their students succeed and compete with other larger departments around the country.

This success has translated into large postgraduate numbers, with more than 38% of the Department’s graduates returning to do Honours in 2014.




MECS Journalism Class Hosts Managing Editor

Michelle Atagana

Michelle Atagana

On Thursday 3 April, the Media & Cultural Studies Honours Journalism class were treated to a guest-seminar by one of South Africa’s leading online journalists, Michelle Atagana.  Atagana, who in 2012, was voted as one of the Mail & Guardian’s top 200 South Africans under-35 to watch, is the managing editor for South Africa’s largest technology-driven news site

Now at 27, Atagana has also helped launch the gaming news site, and a news site for start-up companies  She also appears regularly on numerous television shows and at global technology conferences as an industry expert.

As an alumnus of UKZN, who has returned to complete her PhD on the ‘twitterisation’ of news, under the Media Department’s head of journalism and Cluster Leader for the School of Arts, Dr Nicola Jones, Atagana took time out of her busy schedule to ‘give back’ to the department that helped launch her career.

Students were given an opportunity to understand how their degrees would translate into industry, and more importantly, how vital social media has become in the success of any business.  Atagana spoke at length about one of South Africa’s leading retailers and how their successful management of social media has helped build a stronger community with their customers.


Michelle Atagana speaking to members of the MECS journalism Honours class.

After the seminar, students were excited and re-invigorated for the year ahead as they realised that a degree in Media & Cultural Studies opened up various possibilities for them in the business world; especially due the practical skills taught in Honours in relation to social media and web design.  The Media Department hopes that this will not be Atagana’s last seminar, and that once she has begun working on her PhD will be able to return and educate students on social media and journalism further.

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