MP5019 - Researching Audiences

What will I learn on this module?

This module will introduce you to several things. First, it will give you a grounding in some of the main recent traditions for thinking about and researching media audiences, and the historical contexts of these; the rise of the European cultural studies approach to audiences, the mainly American mass communications approaches, the reception studies tradition, and the growing interdisciplinary field of fan studies. What links all of these approaches is an emphasis on the contexts which shape how audiences engage with and respond to different media and cultural products.

The module will also ensure you are experienced at reading and evaluating original audience and reception research. In other words, that rather than just reading second-hand summaries or excerpts, you read in detail actual empirical work in order to think about and understand the processes undertaken, and assess what distinguishes good/strong from poor/weak research.

Finally, alongside tackling the intellectual issues of audience research, the module aims to do something quite unusual – to give you experience of the processes involved, and the challenges encountered, by giving you a chance to carry out your own small piece of audience research. This necessarily has to be small-scale and preliminary, in order to fit it within the confines of one module over one semester. But working in a small group you will design, conduct and compare some different ways of learning about audience responses.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures, seminars/workshops, and group and independent research. The lectures will explore the main recent traditions and approaches within the field of this module, while the seminars and workshops will examine in more detail particular concepts and theories from these traditions, as well as providing you with the methodological/practical skills to be able to conduct your own piece of audience research. There will be a number of workshop sessions where you will be able to work in your small group on your audience study with support from the module tutor.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Support will include feedback from your tutor during seminars, workshops and tutorials. Your tutor will also respond to questions you may have regarding your group’s audience study via the module’s discussion board at the University’s eLearning Portal so that the whole class can benefit.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• KU1: You will develop detailed knowledge regarding recent traditions of researching media audiences and demonstrate your understanding of the historical context, theoretical foundations and underlying assumptions of these approaches
• KU2: You develop the detailed knowledge required to critically reflect on the processes and challenges involved in designing and carrying out audience research by conducting a small-scale group study

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• IPSA1: You will develop your skills in independently comparing and evaluating different research traditions and approaches
• IPSA2: You will develop skills in designing and conducting empirical research in groups, as well as reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of those processes and how these valuable skills enhance employability in a range of applicable careers

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• PVA1: You will develop your ethical principles and standards within a practical research context

How will I be assessed?

For the assessment you will write up a 3,000 word evaluation of the research exercise that you will have carried out with a small group of other students (100%).

You will receive formative feedback on your ability to conduct analysis of events and cultural objects during the seminars. Class discussion will test your ability to critically engage with advanced mass communication theory in an academic fashion and allow you to demonstrate your understanding of the theoretical concepts raised in the lectures. You will also have the opportunity to discuss your ideas with your peers, working together to find solutions to theoretical dilemmas and so forth.

Under normal circumstances, you will receive written feedback on your summative submissions within 20 working days. The feedback will normally be supplied electronically as part of the ESAF process. This feedback will provide a detailed account of your research/methodological skills, critical engagement and communicative ability, as well as supporting future learning by indicating areas for development. You can also request additional verbal feedback on your submissions by arranging a meeting with the module tutor.





Module abstract

This module might well be something a bit different from your other modules. Its aim is to give you three, linked opportunities…

First, it will introduce you to some of the main recent traditions for thinking about and researching media audiences; traditions which explore how audiences encounter, engage with, and respond to all kinds of different media and cultural products: film, television, books, newspapers, music, theatre, video games, etc.

The second thing the module will do is to offer you the experience of reading and evaluating actual audience and reception studies, rather than just reading second-hand summaries or excerpts in textbooks.

Finally, and most excitingly, the module aims to do something quite unusual – to give you experience of the processes involved, and the challenges encountered, by giving you a chance to carry out your own small piece of audience research in a small group with other students on the module.

Course info

UCAS Code P3N5

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Arts

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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