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MCH1025 : Introduction to Scholarly Practice

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Andrew Shail
  • Lecturer: Dr David Bates, Dr Joss Hands, Dr Alastair Cole, Dr Clifton Evers
  • Teaching Assistant: Mr David Farrell-Banks, Miss Dana Bogova, Ms Alessandra Mondin
  • Other Staff: Mrs Anne Archer
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module trains students in the principles and methods of the scholarly study of both the general field of human phenomena and the specific field of media and culture. It dispels widespread popular misconceptions about both the study of humans and the study of media and culture, and it demonstrates the many ways that scholarly rigour and precision can be used to produce knowledge in these fields.

The module introduces students to relevant taxonomies of media and cultural objects, processes and organisations, and to orthodox and unorthodox methods of gathering and analysing a variety of types of both quantitative and qualitative evidence from all of these phenomena. These phenomena include contemporary and historical media companies, markets and audiences as well as the ‘works themselves’.

The module also explores the forms of inquiry that scholars in the field conduct, and in so doing illuminates the significant variety of scholarly disciplines and methods that bear on the study of media and culture. The module places particular emphasis on mastering a spectrum of skills, from the minutely practical – e.g. producing a detailed description of a components of a given work, such as a scene in a film – to the loftily conceptual – e.g. identifying the position that any given work’s most buried subtext takes on the political compass.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lecture topics will fall into two main areas:
1. Lectures on the nature of phenomena in media and culture. Possible lecture topics include the nature of intent in fiction and the historical modelling of changes in media forms.
2. Lectures on academic integrity and research skills, which will prepare students for the demands of working at university level. Possible lecture topics include ways of striving for neutrality, avoiding logical fallacies and the sceptical handling of published scholarship.

In seminars students will practice applying the models and distinctions explored in lectures.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion160:0060:00Assessment 2
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Assessment 1
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading114:0044:00Weekly required reading and viewing
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops11:001:00Library workshops
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study140:0040:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module is delivered in just the first semester of stage 1 to provide students with an intensive grounding in knowledge and skills that will be fundamental across the rest of their degree. Lectures provide students with accounts and rationales of the principles and methods of scholarly practice. In seminars students will discuss, explore and apply these methods to selected examples of cultural works. Lectures also foster academic integrity by explaining the various types of academic misconduct, demonstrating the proper handling of existing scholarship, outlining the principles behind good scholarly prose, and showing how to distinguish between scholarly and non-scholarly resources. The library workshop complements this grounding in academic integrity by outlining an array of methods for finding primary and secondary resources.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M251000-word account of why a very flawed essay by a fictional student deserves a specific mark according to our criteria of assessment
Essay1A753,000-word essay. Students answer the same essay question as answered in the very flawed essay considered in Essay 1
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Essay 1 requires students to employ the skills and knowledge of sceptical inquiry practised so far on the module in identifying the many ways that a piece of student work might be flawed, in this case using a piece by a fictional student (an example deliberately written, by the module leader, so as to be riddled with flaws). By requiring students to explain what mark this fictional student deserved for this essay and why, Essay 1 also familiarises students with the criteria of assessment that will be used in marking their work throughout their degree. Essay 2 then builds on Essay 1 by asking students to produce their own answer to the essay question that the fictional student tackled. For Essay 2 students will be provided with electronic access to every primary and secondary source that the fictional student had.

Reading Lists