TikTok Syllabus: Teaching socio-cultural issues on TikTok

Download the syllabus (PDF)

The TikTok Syllabus: Teaching Socio-cultural Issues on TikTok is a public scholarship project launched by the TikTok Cultures Research Network. In response to our series of public events in 2020–2021, our research-focused Network has pledged to continue dedicating time and resources to enhance the teaching and pedagogical work done around TikTok Studies and its impact on society. This Syllabus provides a curation of the early landscape of TikTok Studies, providing educators and researchers with resources to teach and think about TikTok through various socio-cultural perspectives. As the first iteration, this Syllabus is currently limited to English language work, though we have extended our efforts to consider a myriad of case studies and resources especially focused on the Asia Pacific region, where we are based.

We welcome collaborations on future iterations of this Syllabus, across languages, regions, and foci. For a full list of academic publications on TikTok by members of the TikTok Cultures Research Network and from academia at large, visit our publications page. We welcome suggestions for entries via our contact page.


The production of this Syllabus is funded by Strategic Investment Funding from the Faculty of Humanities at Curtin University. It takes inspiration from ‘Critical Disinformation Studies: A Syllabus’, authored by Alice Marwick, Rachel Kuo, Shanice Jones Cameron, and Moira Weigel, and launched by the Centre for Information, Technology, & Public Life (CITAP) at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2021. See the syllabus at https://citap.unc.edu/research/critical-disinfo/.

We also wish to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we live and work, and pay our respects to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of our communities and their Elders, past, present, and emerging.

Special thanks to our illustrator Ardine Keyla for the original artwork.


This Syllabus contains ten sections, each recommending readings and resources in the categories of: Conceptual Readings, TikTok Reading, Case Studies, and Multimedia Resources. The sections are structured for educators to incorporate various types of resources into their course syllabus, whether for theoretical development, contextual understandings of TikTok, case studies to investigate a TikTok phenomena in greater detail, or examples as springboards for class discussion. The Syllabus is also intended for researchers who seek a broad overview to explore the growing landscape of TikTok research. While the sections are not exhaustive, this first iteration scopes the current state of the field.

  1. Positioning platform studies
  2. Methodological matters
  3. Governance
  4. Algorithms and affordances
  5. Participation and community
  6. Publics and practices
  7. Identity and visibility
  8. Celebrity and commerce
  9. Credit and copyright
  10. Critical communication and crisis


Abidin, Crystal, and D. Bondy Valdovinos Kaye. 2021. TikTok Syllabus: Teaching Socio-cultural Issues on TikTok. TikTok Cultures Research Network (TCRN), Social Media Pop Cultures Programme, Centre for Culture and Technology (CCAT), Curtin University. https://tiktokcultures.com/syllabus2021/