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MCH8058 : Methodologies: Researching Media, Culture & Society

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Sharon Zheng
  • Lecturer: Dr Chris Haywood
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The aim of this module is to provide students with:

A thorough understanding of the principal media and sociological research methods used in the study of media, culture and society;

A comprehensive understanding of how these research methods operate in practice;

The techniques and skills required to undertake a major research dissertation;

Knowledge of the principal ways of generating research data and specific forms of qualitative analysis;

An understanding of the retrieval of information, location of evidence, analysis, interpretation and synthesis of materials, critical thought and evaluation, questioning of assumptions and, where appropriate, how to relate theory and practice.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module introduces students to a range of methodologies and techniques of data gathering that are central to researching the media, culture and society. It begins by examining ways of generating and analysing research data and investigating specific forms of quantitative and qualitative analysis, with an emphasis on the latter. The foundations of epistemology, methodology and techniques of information gathering and analysis are explored. Key sociological and cultural debates about research methods in media and culture are scrutinised. Students engage with the practical components of conducting research so that students may gain a sophisticated understanding of key aspects of the politics of and ethical issues concerning research methodology in order to enhance the skills they will need to produce a dissertation.

The topics addressed may include the following:
Ontology, epistemology, and methodology;
Quantitative and qualitative research methods and analysis;
Digital ethnography;
Case study, focus group, and interview;
Textual and content analysis;
Researching digital media technologies;
Cross-cultural and transnational media research;
Ethical positions;
Dissertation proposal writing;
Dissertation preparation

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00Interactive non-synchronous lecture materials delivered online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00Lectures to be delivered on campus; can be switched online if necessary
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion220:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00On-campus seminars; can be switched online if necessary
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1127:00127:00Guided self-study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lecture and lecture materials convey knowledge about the major research methods available in the study of the media, culture and PR, with a particular focus on the relationship between theory, methodologies and methods. The seminars will provide students with the context for developing their research skills. Students will learn how to apply these skills to the professional contexts that they are likely to encounter on completion of the course. Classes will mix formal instruction experiences with informal advice sessions.

The assessment strategy allows students to enhance the skills needed to conduct a research dissertation on the programme.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M50Essay, 2,000 words, mid-module
Research proposal1A50Research proposal, 1,500-2,000 words, end-of-module
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Assessment 1: Essay (mid-module)

Students produce a 2,000-word essay that fully assesses the strengths and weaknesses of a method or methods, or ethical implications, of research into Media, Culture and Society as examined during the module. The essay questions allow students to study an area of methodology and the relationship between theory and method.

Additional task-specific criteria are as follows:
- Rigorousness of the definition of the topic, informed by engagement with and understanding of primary and secondary research (S1; K3; K4);
- Demonstration of understanding of how research methods facilitate studies of media, culture and society (K4; K5; S2);
- Analysis of research methods in order to make conclusions about its strengths and weaknesses for studying media, journalism and/or PR (S2; K4);
- Quality of the written structure of the research essay, including the suitability of academic tone at postgraduate level and display of examples and analysis (S3; S5; S6).

Assessment 2: Dissertation Project Proposal (end-of-module)

Students produce a 2,000-word research plan in relation to their proposed dissertation. This should include clearly articulated research question or questions, a theoretical framework, a proposed method, ethical considerations and a working bibliography.

Additional task-specific criteria are as follows:
- Methodological quality of the approach and design of proposed dissertation, how it aligns to the methodologies taught on the module and the ethical implications of the project (K1; K2; K3; K6);
- Awareness of theoretical and research context and framework drawing on both primary and secondary sources (K5; S1);
- Use of research context and theoretical framework to inform the production of research questions (K4);
- Quality of the structure and planning of your proposal, including the suitability of academic tone for postgraduate research and the quality of referencing (S5; S6; S7).

The reassessment strategy is a resit of the failed component or components.

Reading Lists