Module Catalogue 2023/24

MCH3085 : Digital Discourses and Identity

MCH3085 : Digital Discourses and Identity

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Majid Khosravinik
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



1- To extend students’ conceptual understanding around digital media communications.
2- To provide an in-depth approach in analysing digitally mediated communication contents and practices.
3- To explain how traditional concepts in media and cultural studies can be applied in the new digital context along with challenges and redefinitions.
4- To equip students with conceptual and methodological tools to carry out primary research on social media discourses around various aspects of personal and collective identity.
5- To familiarise students with approaches to digital ethnography, discourse analysis in digital media environment and ways to devise a critical synergy between ‘old’ and new theories and methods.
6- To familiarise students with macro industrial contexts in which social media work, e.g. attention economy, digital economy of platforms and critique of corporatisation of participatory web.

The module will discuss digital media theories and the impacts of social media interactions on issues of representation, self-perception, and cultural understandings in the society. It provides a set of explicit concepts in relation to the way digital media spaces and user practices operate and the way digital media consumption should be viewed as a new paradigm of communication in contrast to traditional media. The module provides the necessary scholarship for digital media studies with an emphasis on analysing what people say on social media, what they do through and via their digital connections and interactions and how the technology is implicated in the way certain discourses, presentations, understandings and cultural views are consolidated in the contemporary society especially among the youth. It emphasises the social nature of research on digital discourses (i.e. all forms of digital content, e.g. memes, language, videos, comments, smileys, selfies, annotations, and practices, e.g. patterns of Likes, Sharing, networks, etc.) in different social, political and cultural contexts from issues of gender representation, lifestyle and interpersonal relations to digital hate speech and politics of protests and nationalism. The module is built on an emerging field of study under the rubrics of Social Media Discourse Studies and Social Media Techno-Discursive Analysis. It engages students to focus on everyday social media practices, e.g. self-representation of teenagers on Instagram, with a critical and theoretical lens in order to carry out an in-depth analysis at the intersection of contemporary culture, digital media technologies and discourse analysis. The module encourages students to concentrate on a digital topic of their choice and carry out research-based assessment tasks based on the topic of their choice.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics may include:
Social Media Theories
Digital Discourse and Society
Digital Representational Power
Digital identity & the Youth
Digital Ethnography/observations
Digital Political Economy
Multimodal Digital representations
Digital Self Representation
Digital Nationalism and populism
Social Media Discourse Studies
Techno-Discursive Analysis

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students successfully completing the module will:
1. be able to critically understand the changes in dynamic of power in contemporary media.
2. be familiar with observational methods of doing discourse analysis on the communicative content.
3. be able to deepen their critical understanding of impacts of participatory web on distributing, modifying and changing social, political and cultural representations and perceptions.
4. be able to get to know differences in how affordances of new media may be used in different socio-political contexts.
5. be familiar with digital media technological design and their macro-structural impact on society.
6. be experienced in carrying out a small first-hand research on a social topic reflected on social media (or vice versa) by applying the theoretical and methodological approaches learned.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Students successfully completing the module will have developed theoretical, analytical and organisation skills along with critical thinking. Students will be expected to choose a case study of their own and present the media specification and socio-cultural relevance of the case, e.g. affordances of the platform, norms of communicative practice, social relevance of the practice and the emerging influence of it. The students will give an oral presentation, which enhances their skills in public speaking, organization of material, time-keeping and slideshow design. The students will also be assessed based on an essay which will demonstrate their ability to a) theoretically position their case study and b) carry out a primary data analysis of communicative content of their case study including verbal language, photos, music etc.

The students will gather, organize and deploy a range of theoretical ideas from secondary sources and formulate arguments and present them effectively in oral and written forms.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00Lectures (on campus but can be moved online if needed)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion183:0083:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Seminars (on campus but can be moved online if needed)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study184:0084:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures will introduce a series of tools and theories around critical discourse studies and digital media ecologies. A general understanding of the field of digital discourse is reinforced in the seminars when particular digital topics are critically introduced and discussed among the students. The seminars will also enable the students to understand the general framework to be applied to their own choice of case study. While the lectures will be mainly input sessions, the seminars will provide an open forum for specific elements and case studies to be discussed in small student groups and as a general panel discussions with the seminar leader. A combination of lecture and seminar sessions will help the students to develop their skills in theoretical fields as well as preparing them for their empirical analysis of their digital topic of choice.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A752500-word academic essay, submitted on Canvas.
Oral Examination2M2510 - 15 minutes. Scheduled by module leader. Powerpoint presentations to be uploaded to canvas.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The presentation requires students to choose a particular case study on a given social media communication space/platform, as defined in the module - e.g. Wiki, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn - and present the case in terms of its nature, participatory affordances, impact, scale, relevance and social-cultural consequences by drawing on some relevant theories and concepts. Students will write a report of the presentation and the case by drawing on the feedback from their presentation. A specific set of questions is provided to organise the content of the presentation. The Powerpoint of the presentation is to be submitted via Canvas.

The essay is a 2500-word assessment, which will include the case, theoretical contextualisation of the chosen topic, data analysis section and critical reflections. The essay allows students to demonstrate critical and evaluative skills and stresses the importance of working to deadline.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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