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MCH2075 : Popular Culture & Speculative Futures

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Michael Waugh
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This optional module forms part of the BA (Hons) Media, Communication and Cultural Studies degree. The module examines popular cultural texts and movements from cultural, sociological, political, artistic and philosophical perspectives. It introduces a range of concepts and analytical frameworks from Queer, post-structuralist, feminist and decolonial fields of study. These help students to understand how popular texts from music, film, television, comics, videogames, literature and digital/social media construct, reflect and subvert wider sociocultural issues of identity, representation and power while offering the potential for speculative futures and alternative imaginaries. This module provides theoretical, conceptual and practical toolkits that students will continue to use within and beyond their studies. The course will enable students to critically reflect on their own media practice as well as the work produced by other practitioners.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module offers theoretical perspectives from media studies, cultural studies, philosophy, visual cultures and sociology, as well as studying identities and representations in popular media texts and movements. A variety of weekly examples will be drawn from the fields of music, television, comics, film, literature, videogames and digital/social media.

Module content may include:
- Engagement with theories of popular culture and identity;
- Analysis of representations of race, gender, sexuality, race, class and disability in contemporary popular cultural texts;
- Studying the relationship between popular culture and wider sociocultural issues;
- Exploration of the potential for popular culture to be a space for speculation, fictioning and alternative ideologies.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00Weekly lectures. Present-in-person (can be delivered online if necessary)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion180:0080:00Essay. Second assessment preparation and completion
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Essay plan. First assessment preparation and completion
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading115:0055:00Student readings and research in preparation for lecture and seminar discussion
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Weekly seminars relating to core themes. Present-in-person (can be delivered online if necessary)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork12:002:00Fieldwork trip in the local community with guest lecturer/practitioner. Supplementary to lecture and seminar content
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module offers theoretical perspectives from media studies, cultural studies, philosophy, visual cultures and sociology, as well as examining identities, representations and speculative fictioning in popular cultural texts and movements. It uses formal present-in-person lectures to provide an initial guide to impart this knowledge. Weekly present-in-person seminars are employed to allow smaller group discussion and activities which enable critical engagement with key themes, concepts and frameworks. A fieldwork trip within the local community, led by a guest lecturer/practitioner, will enable students to apply issues explored in the lectures, seminars and readings in contexts outside of the university institution. Combined with private study and essay writing, the lectures, seminars and fieldwork provide the basis for advanced study of the theoretical and conceptual lenses through which popular cultural texts and their audiences can be examined, as well as contributing to an understanding of how popular culture relates to the field of Media, Communication and Cultural Studies more broadly.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M25500-word essay plan
Essay2A752500-word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessments allow students to critically engage with theoretical perspectives in studies of popular culture.

The first assessment, a 500-word essay plan, prepares students for the essay that they will write for the second assessment. Each student will construct an essay plan in conjunction with ongoing seminar guidance, and they will then submit this during the semester in order to receive constructive feedback. They can then reflect on these suggestions prior to and while researching and writing the second assessment.

The second assessment, a 2500-word essay, asks students to use the conceptual models explored across the module to consider how popular cultural texts, audiences, events, movements and/or phenomena produce, reproduce and/or subvert social and cultural meaning. This allows students to bring together critical and evaluative skills in an extended piece of work.

Both assessments represent the cumulation of ongoing formative critical reflection in student-led seminars. The assessments are matched to this formative side of the module and enable students to consolidate their analysis and evaluative skills by applying them to an example of their own choosing. These assessments allow students to establish practical, theoretical, critical and evaluative skills and stress the importance of working to deadlines and goals.

Reading Lists