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MCH1025 : Critical Skills

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Joanne Sayner
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Gareth Longstaff
  • Lecturer: Dr Tina Sikka, Mr Ryan Woodward, Dr Andrew Shail
  • 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


This module trains students in the principles and methods of the scholarly study of media, communication and culture. It dispels widespread popular misconceptions about both the study of humans and the study of these specific fields, 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 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 enquiry 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

The module is divided into two phases:
1. The principles of scholarly integrity, with teaching materials designed to equip students to work in the study of media and culture at university level. Topics include the methods of scholarly enquiry, formal logic and critical engagement with published scholarship.
2. Theories and methods suited for the analysis of phenomena in media, communication and culture, with teaching materials designed to equip students to identify patterns, politics and ideologies in these phenomena.

Weekly required reading, required viewing and lectures explore relevant models and ideas, or provide material for analysis. In seminars, students will delve further into those models and ideas, and practice applying them.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Mid-module assessment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00End-of-module assessment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials11:001:00Library briefing
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture151:0015:00On-campus lectures (can be delivered non-synchronously online if necessary)
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading114:0044:00Weekly required reading and/or viewing
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching92:0018:00On-campus seminars (can be delivered synchronously online if necessary)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study162:0062:00N/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 programme, whatever that degree programme is. Lectures provide students with accounts and rationales of the principles and methods of good scholarly practice. In seminars students will develop their understanding of, and skills in applying, these methods. The library briefing 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
Essay1A502000-word essay answering a question selected from a list provided by the module leader
Prof skill assessmnt1M10Participation and engagement
Written exercise1M40A combination of a) a Works Cited list of at least 6 sources for an essay that pertains to a specific essay question for MCH1023 and b) one paragraph (max. 500 words) that challenges a specific claim pertaining to that essay question.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Full marks for the participation and engagement component are awarded to all students who engage with seminar discussions and tasks, or otherwise engage with the seminar/module leader if the student is unable to do the former. Assessment 1 (the Works Cited list and debunking paragraph) requires students to employ the skills and knowledge of skeptical enquiry and skills in identifying and properly attributing good academic sources practised during phase 1 of the module. Questions for Assessment 2 (the 2,000-word essay) require students to select from the various skills and knowledge in the analysis of media and cultural works learned in phase 2 of the module and apply them to specific objects of study.

Reading Lists