Module Catalogue 2016/17

COM1023 : Introduction to Media Studies

  • Offered for Year: 2016/17
  • Module Leader(s): Dr James Ash
  • Teaching Assistant: Dr Gareth Longstaff
  • Other Staff: Dr Stephen Walls
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



1. To recognise and appreciate the role of mass media communications in contemporary cultures and in social relationships

2. To understand and analyse the codes, aesthetics, forms, and conventions of a range of media texts and practices.

3. To discuss the ways in which the mass media industries shape genres, messages and narratives in order to construct a sense of what the social 'world' is or how it works.

4. To analyse and assess some of the principal themes and issues in contemporary mass media.

5. To examine the role, politics, and power of the mass media in relation to local and global audiences.

6. To consolidate and apply critical and evaluative skills in relation to the outputs of the mass media.

The module will discuss the role the media plays in shaping culture, identity and interpersonal communications. Drawing on work which links audiences and users with genres and industries, the module will examine how the media operate in relation to local and international as well as economic and political spheres. The module will also introduce students to the range of media forms (e.g. radio, television, print media, photography and the visual, popular music, music videos, and the new computer-based information technologies). The module will outline and define the features that mark these mass media.

In addition, the module outlines some key critical frameworks through which we make sense of the mass media. Using a range of analytic frameworks, the module examines issues related to power, identity and representation and assesses their significance for our understanding of the vast array of media material that surrounds us. The module encourages students to undertake close readings of a range of specific media texts and practices as well as understand how producers and consumers make sense of contemporary mass media.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. This module is aimed at students who are new to the field of media and cultural studies and/or who have some initial knowledge of the field. The module will encourage students to critically consider, discuss and analyse some of the key terms, concepts, ideas, and approaches.

2. The module will deal with key introductory material and will offer some answers to the question 'What is media & communication studies?' The module will answer this question in relation to the texts and contexts of the mass media, as well as in relation to the role played by producers and consumers of media texts.

3. In addition, the module will consider and discuss worked examples via up-to-date case study material and will be marked by a strong emphasis on understating how to link ideas and theories to texts, practices, institutions and identities/audiences.

4. Short, clear accounts will outline and consider key notions of media and culture and popular culture in terms of way of life, everydayness, practices, and texts.

5. This will be followed by a discussion of what is involved when thinking about human societies from the perspectives of media studies. The module will consider certain issues involved in further research and critical inquiry in media and cultural studies.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

This module will allow students to gain introductory and critical knowledge of:

1. Theories of media and media analysis
2. Theories of culture
3. The processes of production and consumption of the mass media
4. Mass media representations and their relations to the construction of identities
5. Texts and signs of media and culture
6. Power, hegemony and the culture industry
7. Televisual and print media
8. Popular Culture and Popular Music

Case studies and illustrations will link the above knowledge to :

Histories and development of both mass media forms and media studies
The power of the mass media in contemporary societies
Models of analysis
Critical theory
Genre, form and content of mass media
Media representations and identities

Intended Skill Outcomes

Analysis: students will have acquired the ability to critically analyse a range of primary texts and some of the key themes and issues that underpin the study of media, communication and cultural studies;

Organisation: students will demonstrate skills in synthesising and articulating key organising frameworks through which the media can be understood;

Sources: students will utilise a variety of primary and secondary material in the effective analysis of media as text, technology and institution. They will be given the opportunity to analyse closely, interpret, and show the exercise of critical judgement in the understanding and the evaluation of key concepts in media studies.

Confidence and independence: students will exhibit increased confidence in their communication of their understanding of the media. They will be asked to gather, organise and deploy ideas to formulate arguments and present them effectively in written and oral forms. They will also be assessed on the basis of their ability to consider and evaluate their own work in a reflexive manner, with reference to academic issues and debates.

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Data Synthesis : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Numeracy : Present
    • Literacy : Assessed
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Assessed
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Assessed
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Present
  • Self Management
    • Self Awareness And Reflection : Present
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Innovation And Creativity : Present
      • Initiative : Present
      • Independence : Present
      • Adaptability : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
  • Application
    • Social Cultural Global Awareness : Assessed
    • Legal Awareness : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading120:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity140:0040:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity120:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study134:0034:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module aims to encourage the development and comprehension of contemporary mass media and mass communications. Formal and aesthetic issues will be discussed in relation to content, production and industry values, and consumption and use. Lectures introduce and develop ideas and group work practical allows students to consider material in more practical detail. A mixture of lecture, classroom discussions, small-group work and one-to-one tutorial support will be combined with private study, essay writing and media analysis.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M25Critical Review, 1000 words
Written exercise1M25Media Analysis, 1000 words
Essay1A50Timed Essay, 2000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The Critical Review requires students to discuss the way that selected academic publications have applied and engaged with a chosen concept.

The Media Analysis requires students to examine one media output of their own choice in relation to: the historical and geographical contexts of production and consumption OR its representations of a social identity OR critical media theory.

The timed assessment takes the form of an essay submitted within a week of the release of the essay questions. The timed assessment allows students to demonstrate critical and evaluative skills and stresses the importance of working to deadline.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2016/17 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2017/18 entry will be published here in early-April 2017. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.