Student Handbook

August 20, 2012

MA Communication for Development – Two years part-time

Contents of this handbook:


Dear student!

Welcome to the MA in Communication for Development or ComDev, as it is more commonly referred to as. ComDev is a one-year MA running part-time over two years. The programme offers a unique format that aims to facilitate dialogue and meaningful connections between students and lecturers in different locations, with diverse educational and professional backgrounds and a variety of experience and academic perspectives. We aim for a truly global practice where diverse perspectives on communication, culture and participation in relation to development and social change processes can be discussed and explored. We hope to be able to share each other’s networks and make the two years a mutual learning experience. MasterofArtsThe programme first started in 2000 and was originally held in Swedish, switching to English in 2002 with our first international student batch. Over the years it has increasingly attracted an international, well-rounded and diverse body of students, many with strong practical experience in addition to academic merits, with participation from more than 50 countries and around 150 graduates to date. In 2012, ComDev was subject to a national evaluation regarding the quality of the educational programmes at Swedish universities. The evaluation, which was conducted by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education (HSV) in 2011-2012, showed that ComDev was the only programme out of 26 programmes in the field of Media and Communication that received the highest mark. The main focus of the evaluation was the correspondence between learning goals and learning outcomes in the examinations in general and in final assignments (thesis, degree project etc.) in particular.

The programme is designed in a flexible distance format, through both on-site and online seminars, with staff facilitation of individual and group course work. Guest lecturers, academics as well as practitioners and the examining staff come from diverse backgrounds and countries. With new and enthusiastic students enrolling every year there are also new queries. The intention of this handbook is to try and answer many of the basic questions we often get from our new students: regarding the programme structure, online participation, practical and academic matters (grading etc.) as well as information about Malmö University and the School of Arts and Communication. The handbook will provide you links to other important and relevant pages on the web/course sites.

Please read through this handbook carefully in the early stages of your studies. Familiarise yourself with the ComDev portal and your specific course sites in detail. We hope that you will enjoy the two-year ride with ComDev and in the process also share your experiences and networks with us.

Best wishes,

The School of Arts and Communication ComDev Staff,
Oscar Hemer (Head of Program, Senior Lecturer, Journalistic and Literary Creation), Anders Høg Hansen (Senior Lecturer, Media and Communication), Tobias Denskus (Senior Lecturer), Mikael Rundberg (Adjunct, Interaction Design), Hugo Boothby (Adjunct, Radio Producer), Zeenath Hasan (Adjunct and PhD student in Media and Communication), Florencia Enghel (Adjunct and PhD student in Media and Communication). 


Your studies

Introduction: Programme structure and study format

The flexible distance-learning format offered by ComDev is a unique mixture of online learning and on-site workshops and seminars. Even though you are, for the most part, working from your computer, this programme offers a high level of interaction – through livestreamed lectures with interactive chat options as well as various group assignments throughout the duration of the programme. As the ComDev programme is an online-based master’s, we need different online platforms to be able to communicate and interact with our students. For the daily coursework we use a learning management system called It’s Learning as the base and for our lectures and seminar we use a livestreaming lecture-tool called Live Lecture, which has been developed by our staff. You will get a more detailed overview of the respective platforms below.

All of our lectures and seminars are available online, both livestreamed and on-demand for viewing after the events. There are two to three seminars per term, each lasting at least two full days. For the autumn term (starting in September), the seminars are in September as well as October or November. For the spring term (starting in January), the seminars are in January or February as well as in April, May or June. All seminars have the option of online participation including chat and group exercises. In addition to the seminars, the programme offers at least one lecture for each new course. The seminars organised as part of the ComDev programme are of crucial importance for ensuring the quality of the educational process, and assuring interaction between the students in the seminar classroom. ParticipationThus, the seminars are compulsory for all students enrolled in the programme and attendance can be either online or on location. This format enables you to communicate with lecturers and facilitators regardless of your geographical location. Our online-based platform enables you to login and follow the course 24-hours a day while experiencing the occasional face-to-face interaction with on-site participation. To ensure transparency, we prefer questions regarding the programme to be asked in the course forum on It’s Learning, and our aim is to answer any questions within a few days.

Participation requirements: Students must participate in all seminars either online or on location. Online participation means participation during the full seminar. As the seminars are few, work is not an excuse. Illness, however, is.

We strongly encourage students, particularly those residing in Sweden or the Copenhagen area, to attend seminars in person if possible. Students in other European countries should consider attending at least two seminars in person during the two years. If you live in either the Malmö or Copenhagen area there is no excuse for not attending all ComDev seminars in person.

We do offer recordings and also keep an archive of recordings of seminars. Recordings will however be without the synchronous chat option. Saved chat sessions are also available.

As ComDev is a web-based, distance-learning programme, the online environment plays a central role in the learning process. While the main purpose of our online platforms is to inform and deliver learning material, we regard them as a living environment where lecturers and students interact with each other rather than static places of information. The content changes and develops with the activity and engagement of the users and it is therefor highly important that you visit the respective websites on a regular basis. We strongly recommend visiting the relevant course sites as well as the ComDev portal a couple of times per week.



Course curriculum and courses

The general syllabus for the Communication for Development programme can be found here. For details regarding the syllabus of each course, please click onthe individual courses below.

Year 1

Term 1: Media, Globalisation and Development (15 credits). This course includes Globalisation and Communication (7,5 credits) and Culture and Development (7,5 credits).

Term 2: Communication, Culture and Media Analysis (15 credits).

Note: The courses on Media, Globalisation and Development, and Communication, Culture and Media Analysis can be completed in reverse order, beginning with Communication, Culture and Media Analysis in Spring (Jan-June) and then doing Media, Globalisation and Development in the Autumn (Sept-Jan).

Year 2

Term 3: New Media, ICT and Development (7,5 credits) + Research Methodology (7,5 credits).

Term 4: Degree Project/MA thesis (15 credits).



Communication for Development course sites: The tools we use



It’s Learning

To facilitate the programme and the coursework ComDev is using It’s Learning, a learning management system (LMS) at Malmö University. It’s Learning is not a public platform, and you need to login in each time in order to access the course-sites. Each course in the programme has its own corresponding course site in It’s Learning and you will find them under the “Course tab” once you are logged into the system. On It’s Learning you will find all the information needed for you to complete your courses and all course sites follow the same structure, meaning you will soon find your way around the system.


Below is a short description of the course site.

At the top-centre is a billboard where the lecturers and course responsible publish important information regarding the course. You must check this billboard regularly as it is your own responsibility to keep yourself informed. You will see the billboard every time you go to the course site in it’s learning. You will also see a RSS news feed from the ComDev portal.

To the left you will see a menu containing of the following tabs:

Status and Follow-up
This is where your results will be published. Under “Assessment record” you’ll find your grade as well as examiner’s comments. Only you and the examiner are able to see this part.

All list of all lecturers and students.

Contains useful collections of links to resources outside It’s Learning such as the ComDev Portal, Malmö University websites, IT support and blogs

Course content
This is where you will find anything course-specific. This section changes between the different courses while the Bulletins (the course name), Status and Follow-up, and Participant tabs are general features that never change. The course-specific content tab does have a certain basic structure where the seminar and modules folders have a repeated structure of information pages and subfolders with tools for interaction and communication.


Online lectures, seminars and Live Lecture
Live LectureOne of the cornerstones in the ComDev programme is Live Lecture – a tool for livestreaming of lectures.  The Live Lecture was developed by the ComDev staff and offers a unique platform for online and web-based learning. Live Lecture is a streamed video combined with a text chat that has proven to work well in the non-homogenies computer environment of ComDev users all over the world. It is designed to work in the ComDev context with mixed on-site and online participants attending the same lecture. We use Live Lecture for our lecturers and seminars, enabling our online students to participate and get the full ComDev experience – wherever they might be located. To complement the livestreamed video Live Lecture has an integrated text chat feature, allowing students to pose questions to the lecturers, as well as interact with the audience following the seminars and facilitators on-site.


Communication during Live Lecture sessions

As mentioned above, there is an integrated chat that facilitates the communication between the online participants, the lecturers and the broadcaster. As the communication is a silent text based chat it doesn’t disturb the on-going lectures but appears on a big screen projection in the lecture room, allowing the on-site followers and the lecturers to read and respond to comments and questions whenever appropriate. The chat enables audience and speakers to see the online comments and discussion. The lecturer may pick up questions directly from the chat or one of the facilitating staff members in the room will read it back to the lecturer. One or two staff members facilitate each session by being online in Live Lecture during the sessions.


Technical requirements for Live Lecture

To be able to participant in Live Lecture you will need a Mac or PC with sound output and an internet connection. If possible you should connect via broadband (high speed) as Live Lecture requires a stable and fast connection to work at its best. When developing Live Lecture we took into account the fact that depending on where in the world you are sitting, you might have different access to the internet, and this is why we have three different streams for you to choose from (low, good, fast). We recommend the fast stream when possible, however, if you have trouble with the broadcast, try using the good or low streams.

You will need speakers or headphones to be able to actively engage in the lectures and seminars. Headphones are strongly recommended, especially if you are in a noisy environment. A microphone or webcam is not required for the lectures as Live Lecture is a one-way webcast and students communicate via chat. However, in oral presentations you will need at least a microphone, webcam is a nice extra so that your fellow students can see you while you are presenting.

Flash Player plugin!

Make sure that you have the latest Flash Player plug-in installed on your computer. You will get a notification if you don’t have it installed when you enter the Live Lecture application. You can download the plug-in for free here. Note that this means that you can’t use an iPad as it doesn’t support flash.


How to use Live Lecture
You can find Live Lecture in left menu in It’s Learning. If you can’t access It’s Learning you can also find an entry here on the ComDev portal.

A new browser window open. It will look like this.

If the sound and video is breaking please try a smaller stream. See “Your internet connection: low(60) | GOOD (200) | fast (400)” just below the video image. If you are on GOOD – click on slow.

Live indicator

When we aren’t online the latest recording is shown (click on the arrow). Once we are broadcasting a red tab appears in the upper right corner. Click on it to see the live stream.



Communication for Development Portal

ComDevportalThe ComDev portal is a site for general information about ComDev. The portal serves as an information site for recruiting new students and as a service place for present students. The portal contains central and common information for the ComDev students. You will be able to find your way to every corner of ComDev from the portal. You will also be able to find the Student Handbook, a FAQ and links to key features as the central IT support (Help Desk), library and other resources and systems you need for your studies. The ComDev portal is running on a Word Press server (thesis theme) and is basically a blog with some extra features.




Library and literature

The learning materials used in ComDev mainly consist of academic books and articles, either online or hard copies. Bearing in mind that many of our students live and work in areas where it might be difficult to access physical books, we work closely with Malmö University library to find literature that is accessible online. The literature lists are presented on the respective course sites in It’s Learning and they contain both compulsory as well as additional and thematic readings for each course. As you will see, the Malmö University library offers a variety of databases of relevance for your studies, such as JSTORE.

Tip!For buying books or reading books online try also / / or Google Books Although you will find many limited preview copies, you may be able to read some parts one day, and other parts during another login. This may help you in cases where you only browse for sections of books – or where it is impossible to gain a hardcopy of the book.


Academic assignments, writing, referencing and grading

Going back into academia after many year of working in organisations might mean a radical shift in terms of working with sources, conducting research and writing papers and essays. Writing for academia often differs from other forms of writing, such as NGO reporting or journalism. There are specific writing and referencing formats that we require our students to follow. It is important that our students follow these methods in all aspects of the assignments. As there are many different systems for referencing, the basic rule that we have is to keep the referencing consistent throughout the assignments. We have gathered more information in this section.

For your final assignment, the Degree Project, we have a separate manual that can be viewed here:ComDev Degree Project Handbook 2014. However, you might find some useful and valuable information for your earlier assignments as well, particularly regarding structuring the content of longer academic papers. For each specific assignment there respective instructions will be uploaded to the course site in It’s Learning.

In ComDev we are using a variety of learning and examination methods – from traditional individual paper, short or long, to group work, peer-reviews of your fellow students’ works, oral presentations and commentaries as well as media production. Most of the assignments will demand a combination of theoretical and empirical work, or discussion of empirical data, either your own or other relevant data.

In general, assignments on all courses on ComDev should meet the following criteria:

  • Strong engagement with, and understanding of specific course literature and/or selected texts on the reading lists (this means in-depth engagement with relevant selections, depending on your essay theme)
  • Show an ability to pose and work with, and stick to, specific research questions, sustaining a tight focus and orientation throughout the work
  • Correct and clear use of English, with strong readability (considering this is a programme with emphasis on ‘Communication’)
  • Academic analytical approach, writing style and referencing
  • All assignments must comply with length and format requirements and should be submitted as either word or pdf documents including name, course title, assignment title and course code, a specific title of the essay or assignment, and date of submission, as well as an indication if the assignment is a revision of earlier work.

We recommend that our students use Harvard-APA when referencing and writing bibliographies. The American Psychological Association (APA) reference style uses the Author-Date format for referencing or bibliographic citation. This guide covers the basics and provides a few examples for the most common types of citation. The guide based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) which is available at most libraries. On you can obtain tutorials, read the blog and access FAQs. You can download a referencing guideline here: Referencing Autumn 2014.

Furthermore, the Malmö University library has an extensive section on different referencing systems. You find the section here.




All assignments are graded according to the A to U scale as mentioned above. Deadlines The specific requirements and guidelines for each individual assignment are provided on the respective It’s Learning course site.  Deadlines are normally 24:00 GMT. As a student you have the right to a re-exam if you failed or was unable to complete the assignment on time. More information will be given by your course responsible in connection with the assignment.

Individual comments on your assignment is a high priority with the ComDev staff, as we believe that the recommendations and comments from your examiner will facilitate your learning process and contribute to your development. Should you be dissatisfied with an examiner’s mark, you may hand in a written protest. We advice that you discuss your mark with the course responsible before submitting a formal complaint; he or she may be able to clarify or expand on the comments and marking. Should you still strongly disagree with your mark after discussing it with the course responsible or another lecturer appointed to help you, we may appoint an additional marker on the work.



The Swedish educational system: Term structure, requirements, fees and grading

The academic year is divided into two terms, each 30 credits full-time (or 15 credits part-time, as in the case of ComDev). Full-time study is circa 40 hours per week while part-time study is circa 20 hours per week. During the semester, students take one course at a time. In Sweden, as in most of the Europe university programmes, we follow the 3+2+3 or 3+1+3 structure meaning BA: 3 years, MA: 1 or 2 years, PhD: 3 to 4 years.

The grading system follows the A to U system – A, B, C, D, E, F and U (the U may divide into a Fail with a complete rewriting/reassessment or revision task/preliminary). In addition, Malmö University and School of Arts and Communication use the 3-level Swedish grading system U (Fail), Pass (G) and Pass with Distinction (VG). At Malmö University, an A, B or C are considered as top half good marks, while a D or E are considered average grades but still a Pass. Do, however, please note that grading scales are used differently in different countries.

As a general rule the grading can be translated as follows:

FeesA = VG. Excellent

B = VG. Very Good

C = G. Good

D = G. Satisfactory

E = G. Sufficient

F = U. Fail. Either revision/some more work needed or resubmission of new assignment




Credits and grading reporting (LADOK)

After the exam of an assignment is the grade and comment from the examiner placed in your grade book at It’s Learning course page. It is normally announced on the main billboard when the grades have been distributed. At the end of the course is the main course responsible reports your grade to the LADOK database. Your results (including comments) are visible in It’s Learning while the official grade (without examiner’s comments) are in the LADOK database. Note that the LADOK database is only updated after the course has ended which means that it can take some time before your results is visual in LADOK. Click here to login into your LADOK account.


URKUND plagiarism control of final Degree Project

All ComDev Degree Project works are subject to a check for plagiarism. When you are ready to submit the final version of your degree project/thesis you will be given a submission address on the course dashboard so we can do a final plagiarism control of your final version. Details about this are given to you through It’s learning.

URKUND shows how many percent is your own writing and by this checks that you have not forgotten referencing of quotes and summaries. We do of course not expect any cheating.



Internally, ComDev conduct course evaluations at the end of each course. This is done via an online questionnaire integrated in the It’s Learning course site. These evaluations and other quality assessments is monitored and administrated by the ComDev Council, a group consisting of the ComDev staff as well as two or three student representatives from different batches.


Student service
On the Student Services page you’ll find links to useful student resources.


After your studies



MA Communication for Development certificate
Once you completed your studies, you need to apply to get your degree certificate. Degree certificates are issued by the Degree Office at the Department of Student Affairs. Click here to read more about the Degree Certificate and here to download the application form.

Note that you must have finished all courses/modules before you can get the Degree Certificate. Check your LADOK records before you order the certificate. If you lack credits in the LADOK record please go back to the course site and compare it with your grade book. Check so you completed the missing courses or modules and got a passing grade on all assessments. The missing grade perhaps is given but not yet reported to the LADOK system. Please contact the course responsible, the webmaster and the course secretary (see the contact page at the mah web) to sort it out.


Malmö University Electronic Publishing (MUEP) of Degree Project

When you have been examined on your final Degree Project you have the opportunity of publishing in MUEP – Malmö University Electronic Publishing. This will make it available in Malmö University open access repository MUEP and indexed according to international open access standards, that is make it visible in Google, Google scholar, etc. Read more about how to publish in MUEP here. You need a pdf-version of your essay, the abstract and key words of your choice. IMPORTANT – this applies to the final version only (await examiner’s comments and minor revisions). Do not MUEP publish before.


Malmö City, Malmö University and the School of Arts and Communication

MAH_logotype_english_originalThe MA in Communication for Development takes place at Malmö University, a new university in an expanding and multicultural city. Malmö is the third largest city in Sweden, with about 300,000 inhabitants. Malmö has a booming information and knowledge economy. A declining industrial town in the 1990’s, Malmö has now regenerated into a vibrant urban melting pot. The new university, and a growing IT and cultural sector, a range of architectural and residential expansions and experiments, cunning re-appropriation of former industrial sites, and more than 50 nationalities, makes it an interesting place to study, live, form partnerships, and do field work. The city is connected to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, (with its 1.5 million inhabitants), via the new Öresund bridge opened in 2000, just two years after Malmö University. Malmö is also a short train ride from the classic university town Lund (Scandinavia’s oldest university).

The School of Arts and Communication, in Swedish Konst, Kultur och Kommunikation (K3),  is an institution concerned with media and culture studies as well as design, literature and the arts, from an academic as well as practical/production perspective. The school’s courses and research emphasise both local and global projects – it also promotes social change and media/design activism approaches to study and research.

The University was founded in 1998 and today it has over 25,000 students. As an alternative and complement to other universities in the region Malmö university offers a range of interdisciplinary institutions. Among these are International Migration and Ethnic Relations, Global Political Studies, Arts and Communication, Urban Studies, Health and Society, Technology and Society, Odontology as well as Teacher Education. The ComDev programme works in cooperation with lecturers and examiners at other faculties and programmes to ensure an interdisciplinary approach to academia and take advantage of the broad backgrounds and experience in other disciplines, but also to bridge the gap that often exists between different fields.

The school of Arts and Communication runs undergraduate, BA programmes in English Studies, Interaction Design, Media and Communication, Performing Arts Technology as well as Design and Visual Communication. The three-year undergraduate in Literary Studies is in the process of becoming a recognised BA. In addition, the School of Arts and Communication runs two two-year, full-time MAs, one in Interaction Design, in English, and one in Media and Cultural Production, in Swedish, and of course there is the one-year (two years, part-time) MA in Communication for Development.


How to find Malmö University’s School of Arts and Communication

The School of Arts and Communication is situated in the expanding harbour district just 20 minutes walk northwest of Malmö Central station. The address is Östra Varvsgatan 11 A, Building 7, 205 06 Malmö, Sweden (map). We are next to the Media High School/Gymnasium and a few hundred metres from the landmark ‘Turning Torso’. .


Malmö University web

At the top of the structure and maintained by the information department. The public entry and the place for Malmö University common news and central information. The main page contains shortcuts to all faculties, departments and units and important features.


Our partners and collaborators



The Ørecomm Network

orecommMalmö University and Roskilde University in Denmark has established a close bilateral collaboration, resulting in the Ørecomm network. One of the prioritised areas of the network is Communication for Development, channelled through the Ørecomm Centre for Communication and Glocal Change, aiming at becoming a centre of excellent research within this field.

As part of the network, the Ørecomm Festival has been organised since 2011. It’s a four to five day conference with seminars and workshops taking place on both sides of the Öresund strait that is separating Sweden and Denmark. In 2011 the theme was Agency in the Mediatized World.  In 2012 it was Reclaiming the Public Sphere and in 2013 the theme was Memory on Trial: Media, Citizenship and Social Justice.


The ComDev Network

new-GT-logo-compactGlocal Times

Facebook_mahComDev on Facebook


mah twitter2-1ComDev on Twitter


orecommThe Ørecomm network


spiderlogoThe Spider Network


Additional websites of interest


More detailed technical explanations

It’s Learning

The tree structure in the course specific folders are explained more in detail below.

Seminar folder contains:


The ComDev seminar programme is both in local times – Swedish and GMT fixed Greenwich time. Students in other times zones than where the seminar is held have to compensate for the time difference. You can find an online time zone calculator in the Links. Note! That the programme in It’s learning can differ from the public programme at the ComDev portal as it may contain special events for the course only i.e. introduction to assignments, exercises, workshops or exams.


Reading instructions or other important thing you need to do before the seminars


A written follow-up by the responsible staff. You will also find some of the course specific video recordings here that are separated from the public video documentation at the ComDev portal

Module folder (name of the module)

Workspace folder

Here you find the different tools to work with the assignments and collaborate with your classmates. The Workspace folders are mainly containing discussion forums or other features that you need to interact and communicate. This folder will change a lot during the course, for example when the lecturer divides the class in groups according to themes or subjects to form the assignment.


The literature and reading list. Important! This literature list is the one that counts for you. It overrides all other literature lists i.e. in the syllabus and other sites.

Key questions

Here is the lecturer and staff presenting the modules content and assignment as a small written lecture. This page may also contain video recordings from introduction lectures or other learning material.


The formal instructions of the assignment and the procedure of the examination. The examinations page also has a clear description for grading criteria’s.

Guidance forum (student to teacher interaction):

Here you can seek help and ask the teachers questions related to the module. The guidance forum is also a place that you should visit frequently as you will find a lot of relevant information here.

Final version uploads (exams)

Here is the place to submit the final version of the assignment (document) to the teachers for grading and commenting. Note that these final version places are only present and open when the assignment is to hand in. It will close at the deadline stated at the Examination page

….. this folder structure is repeated if the course contains more than one module…..

Open Forum

Open Forum is the social forum of the course. Here can you socialise with your classmates and sometimes even teachers/staff. A great place that we all share. Please enjoy!

Technical support (student to support staff communication)

A discussion forum where you can get help with technical issues. The idea is to build up a dynamic FAQ during the course. The big issues will then be lifted placed in the general FAQ.

{ 1 comment }

Abdulrahman Abdu July 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I believed such course will add value to my development work professional career and allow me to communicate to our marginalised communities in order for them to promote their lives by having a commom voice to their stakeholders and their policy drivers.

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