Audience Dialogue

Online course 1: Basic audience research

Target audience

This course is designed mainly for people who have either:
(a) completed secondary school, and have a few years' experience working in media, as a reporter, program maker, producer, editor, sub-editor, manager, or in a marketing role
(b) completed some tertiary study in media studies, social science, management, marketing, etc. but have no experience in the above types of media work.

If you do not have that educational or working background, parts of this course may be too difficult for you.

You also need to be able to use a computer with internet access for several hours, at least once a week - probably twice a week: once to do the research, and again to send in your assignment. Finally, you will need to have a good knowledge of written English. If you have to look up a dictionary to read this page, the course will probably be too difficult for you.

Course schedule

The course has 10 modules: one per week, for 10 weeks. Each module will require about 8 hours' work - though this will vary from week to week. The work will include

Assignments are due at midday each Monday. Submission instructions.

Learning outcomes

When you have completed this course, you should be able to:
(a) organize and carry out a simple audience survey, and
(b) commission an audience survey from a market research organization, and
(c) interpret survey reports accurately.

Though a 10-week course will not make you an instant expert, you will have at least a basic understanding of the principles of audience research. Like all the Audience Dialogue courses, this is a practical course rather than an academic course.


There will be a preliminary test, to establish the existing level of knowledge of each student.

Each week there will be a set of questions to answer - usually from 5 to 10 questions. There's no need to write long answers. Mostly, one paragraph will be enough: just enough to demonstrate that you have read the week's reading material carefully, and can answer correctly.

Your marks, and the correct answers will be provided the following week. Students will also need to return a Learning Journal each week. This is like a diary, in which they list their reading, thoughts, course-related activities, and questions. How to write a Learning Journal.

Research project

The course includes a research project, which students will need to work on for several hours a week - less at the beginning of the course, but more towards the end.

Content of this course

With our philosophy of "learning by doing," the Basic Audience Research course involves reading about how research is done, and also doing a small survey. By the end of the course you should have completed a survey, in all its stages, from planning to producing a report.
Module 1: Introduction to audience research
Module 2: Planning a research project
Module 3: Principles of sampling; choosing sample units and sizes
Module 4: Sampling in clusters and households
Module 5: Writing questionnaires
Module 6: Questionnaire formats and layout
Module 7: Fieldwork: interviewing, probing, and verification
Module 8: Data editing, coding, and data entry
Module 9: Data analysis: tabulation
Module 10: Reporting and using findings

The main textbook will be Know Your Audience by Dennis List. Supplementary reading will be provided from the Web, but at Module 3 you will need to find some Census data from your own area.
Modules 1-2: Know Your Audience, chapter 1
Modules 3-4: Know Your Audience, chapter 2 + local Census data
Modules 5-6: Know Your Audience, chapter 3
Modules 7: Know Your Audience, chapter 4
Modules 8-9: Know Your Audience, chapter 5
Module 10: Know Your Audience, chapter 6

The information on this page applies specifically to the course on Basic Audience Research. For general information covering all Audience Dialogue's online courses, see this information page. To apply for entry to this course please complete this application form.

You may also find our advice on using a learning or reflective journal to be useful in your studies.