Module Catalogue 2019/20

MCH3063 : Advertising and Consumption

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Steve Walls
  • Teaching Assistant: Dr Michael Waugh
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment

Undergraduate Students must have successfully completed MCH1023 OR MCH1026.
Direct level 2 entry students must also be taking or have completed MCH2075.

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment

Postgraduate Students must also be taking MCH8057


This module aims to:
1. enable students to develop a core base in the field of advertising, culture, and consumption.

2. allow participants to develop specialisms on the basis of specific interest (e.g. advertising and language; advertising and globalisation; consumption in cross-cultural settings; consumption and identity).

3. encourage students to consolidate methodological and critical skills in studying practices (e.g. shopping/consumption), texts, and qualitative and quantitative material in the spheres of communication, culture and advertising.

4. explore and apply interdisciplinary approaches to the study of consumer society now and in the recent past.

5. examine the rise of global and cross-cultural consumer cultures and advertising.

6. investigate and understand the cultural context of specific consumer groups, and to develop case studies of specific commodities, practices or cultural contexts.

Cultural consumption is one of the key activities of everyday life. All consumption occurs in relation to advertising, promotion or communication. This module will examine the cultural politics of advertising and consumption in relation to the perspective of cultural studies. It will provide a critical map of the field and bring together work on consumer culture in anthropology and sociology with work on media audiences within media studies and sociology. The rich and idiosyncratic features of local consumption practices will be illustrated through cases from different parts of the world.

Through such cases, the module will show the varying balance between constraint and power and creativity and resistance, making links between consumption and production, and the patterns that shape access to symbolic and material resources. Consumption takes place in the context of everyday lives, in urban, rural and domestic zones: questions of place and identity, poverty, the privatization of the home, and the linking of local everyday practices with broader, global processes are explored. Particular attention is given to the media and new communication technologies as points of overlap and exchange between the local and the global, between domestic consumption and the public sphere. Specific attention will focus upon the various communication strategies used in advertising including semiotics, branding, 'shockvertising', humour and music as rhetorical devices, and social media campaigns.

Outline Of Syllabus

Syllabus may be subject to updates/change but will typically include:

Classical and Contemporary theoretical perspectives on Advertising & Consumer Culture

Semiotics & Branding in Advertising

Gender & Consumption

Consuming Cities, Populations & Place Marketing

Fashion Advertising, Style & Identity

Conceptualising a Campaign

Humour in Advertising

Sexuality, Fetish and ‘Shockvertising’

Digital Advertising & Online Consumption

Social Media & Viral Campaigns

Children, ‘Kidvertising’ & Consumption

Subvertising, Ethical and Green Consumerism

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

1. develop and consolidate various interdisciplinary approaches to the study of consumer society;

2. increase understanding of different social-scientific and media & cultural theories of communications in the spheres of cultural consumption and advertising (e.g. historical change; language and textual change; cross-cultural difference; identities (gender, sexuality, class and ethnicity).

3. examine the construction and function of social formations in the study of consumption;

4. identify and evaluate a range of sources, texts and practices using theoretical, linguistic, textual, semiological and communications perspectives.

5. demonstrate an understanding of the significance of consumer society and advertising in local and global contexts, allowing students to identify the distinctiveness and the cultural context in which advertising and practices of consumption take shape.

6. demonstrate use of web sources and teaching and learning packages.

7. plan and execute research assessments identifying hypotheses and relevant source material, and engaging with texts, case studies and theoretical approaches.

8. Present research findings in a succinct manner, deploying a range of social-scientific, linguistic, cultural and communications theories and/or methodologies.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Skills in the analysis of texts and practices.
Group work and group planning.
Essay writing and researching.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion162:0062:00Theoretical Essay/Campaign
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Semiotic Analysis
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading123:0036:00Weekly reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00Seminars and workshops
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity121:0012:00Post seminar reflection
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study122:0024:00Weekly study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module aims to encourage the development and comprehension of contemporary issues and ideas in culture, consumption, advertising and everyday life. Theories of the economy, identity, and culture will be discussed in relation to advertising content, consumption and production, and mass media texts. Lectures introduce and develop ideas and group work practical allows students to consider material in more practical detail. A mixture of lectures, informal discussions, small-group work and spoken group presentations will be combined with private study, essay writing and media audience (or similar) project which investigates key aspects of advertising and consumption in everyday life.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M25Essay, 1000 words
Essay1A75Essay, 3000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Smaller essay specifically focused upon analyzing an example of advertising allows students to examine how these particular texts are constructed and the way they communicate culture and brand image to consumers. This enables students to develop and demonstrate paractical skills in applying theoretical material to an example of their own choosing.

Larger essay on consumption and advertising allows students to consider social and cultural theories of advertising and consumption, production & regulation and, cultural identity. This assessment fits well with formative side of module as well as realities and experiences of local-global economies and cultures.

These assessments allow students to establish practical, theoretical, critical and evaluative skills and stress the importance of working to deadlines and goals.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 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 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.