Module Catalogue 2021/22

MCH3074 : Critical Approaches to Media, Communication and Culture

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Joss Hands
  • Other Staff: Dr David Bates, Mr Christopher Little
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module examines historical and contemporary issues and debates as they pertain to media, communication, and culture. Analysis is guided by critical approaches developed in media and cultural studies. This module also expands the critical and theoretical understandings developed by students in culture, communications and the media in previous stages. The module aims to enable students to interrogate and develop their thinking and practices in relation to theoretical and issues-based challenges. It is intended to help students to work on identifying and determining what is and is not critical detail and undertake critical self-reflexivity. It will encourage students to pay attention to texture, argument, criticality, subtlety, and complexity. Such aims support their final dissertations.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module draws on relevant theoretical texts and cultural practices to explore and comprehend culture, media and technology in the context of historical and recent developments in the field of media, communication and cultural studies. Each week provides students with a detailed and critical understanding of a theorist, concept, medium, theory, text, practice, or event from a range of perspectives. The module encourages students to consider their own involvement in the matters at hand, and to be critically self-reflexive about this. The module will thus facilitate a space in which to thoughtfully consider our identities and interests in relation to the demands of large but also intimate public spheres, challenges, and global contexts. Assignments are structured around studies of social movements, media, events or cultural formations (e.g. class, ethnicity, gender). Alternatively, students can focus on a particular direction in a theory’s or theorist’s trajectory.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

A student successfully completing the module will have knowledge of:
1. The role and significance of theory and theorised accounts of culture, communications and media;
2. Major thinkers in the area, and their theoretical approaches;
3. Key concepts explaining the organization of meanings, understandings and subjectivity.

Intended Skill Outcomes

A student successfully completing the module will be able to:
1. Engage critically with the key themes and issues that underpin the study of media, communication and cultural studies
2. Closely analyse, interpret and apply critical judgement in the understanding and the evaluation of concepts.
3. Gather, organise and deploy ideas to formulate arguments in effective written and oral forms.
4. Consider and evaluate their own work in a reflexive manner, with reference to academic issues and debates.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:3016:30Concept-led materials delivered in short videos, narrated PowerPoints or audio-only formats
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Present-in-person on-campus seminars (where possible)
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities112:0022:00Non-synchronous reading and lecture response log
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion111:0011:00Reflection and discussion based on key ideas, theorists, themes and concepts from each week, online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops32:006:003 x 2-hour reflection and essay preparation workshops present-in- person on-campus - weeks 1/6/11
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study183:3083:30N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module allows students to link theory with practice in the field of cultural, media and communications studies. Different styles of teaching and learning, alongside input from a range of colleagues with specialist interest in specific areas of the module, will encourage students to understand some of the implications of learning ‘theory’ as an enriching way of understanding contemporary social life. But theory is never divorced from contexts or situations, and so the themes and issues in contemporary cultural studies will be allowed to impact on theory, learning outcomes, and on-going research.

This module uses the lectures to map out the themes and issues in media, communication and cultural studies. The online lectures are delivered using a variety of methods. These includes a range of resources, such as PowerPoint, video and individual and group tasks. The students will be required to have undertaken a range of preparatory tasks to facilitate the interactive character of these sessions.

Seminars are used as a means for students to lead discussion. These are held in order for students to develop and follow up some of the issues from the lectures. One feature of the seminar is that the lecturer is simply there to facilitate discussion. We have found that students often benefit from other students’ interpretations and discussions.

Tutorial sessions will be available to students at strategic times during the module timetable.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A753000 words
Reflective log1A251000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment methods relate closely to key elements in the module’s knowledge and skills outcomes. The assessments are designed in order to allow students to sense the importance of critical detail, theoretical complexity, density of argument, etc.

The reflective log provides a chance for students to draw on their reading and lecture responses and online discussions to bring together conclusions about their learning, their learning experiences and the value of critical thinking. The 3000-word essay allows students to demonstrate critical and evaluative skills, to fully research and deepen their understanding of a focused topic and to express firm knowledge/understanding, of complex theoretical questions.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2021/22 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 2022/23 entry will be published here in early-April 2022. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.