MP4015 - Approaches to Media and Culture

What will I learn on this module?

This module will introduce you to the study of mass communication and culture (with an emphasis on popular media forms). Throughout the module you will explore key issues in the study of mass communication alongside influential critical concepts, and be asked to consider how one analyses ”media objects” in relation to such ideas: what knowledge is required to contextualise the analysis? How does one select and integrate theory into analysis? What primary and secondary sources are considered “legitimate” in academic analysis, and how are these decisions made?

The focus of the module is at once to allow you to engage with mass communications first-hand and develop your analytical skills (in terms of written work and collaborative group discussion), but also to expose you to methodological frameworks—a foundation that will act as the basis of your future studies.

How will I learn on this module?

Each session will focus on a key issue or concept as a springboard for three strands of investigation: a) offering strategies for studying the issue/concept, b) underlining the significance of studying such issues and concepts (with reference to broader theoretical/historical/contextual concerns), and c) methodological implications, related specifically to your research, writing and presenting practices. The lectures will offer an introduction to the object/concept of investigation, outlining these lines of investigation, providing case studies to demonstrate the kinds of analysis required of them, and explaining the methodological implications. The seminars will work with the lecture, providing a space in which you will present short summaries of the week’s reading to the class. This will permit the tutor to assess your understanding of the approaches outlined in the lecture and the accompanying reading, while also consolidating learning through first-hand experience. The workshops will provide a space for you to consider how methodological issues raised will affect you, developing the ideas in the lecture and seminars, and allowing you to reflect on/raise questions relating to these matters. These workshops will be student-led: you will be encouraged to discuss key issues, and begin researching the articles that will inform your final assessment. The discussions will provide a personal focus, allowing you to develop reflexivity – that is, a critical consideration of your working practices, your strengths, and aspects that you may need to develop.

The summative assessment — a 3000 word Critical Writing Portfolio (comprising a literature review of key articles, plus a contextualising introduction and reflective conclusion) — aims to ensure that you engage with secondary reading from the outset of the degree programme, and develop strategies for critically engaging with, and writing about, the reading in question. Formative feedback from this assessment will come from your peers and the module tutor during the workshop sessions. You will also receive written feedback on your final writing portfolio submission. Both types of feedback will develop your skills, identifying strengths and weaknesses in your learning and knowledge application strategies.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be academically supported by the module tutor with whom you can make private appointments during their scheduled office hours. These are in place to encourage you to seek advice on course-related materials, including course content and the final assessment.

The seminars and workshops will also provide an arena of academic support both from classmates and the module tutor during group discussion. Such discussions are encourage to aid in your ability to solve problems and develop robust peer support networks.

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 gain a critical understanding of mass communication and culture and demonstrate this through analysis of media objects
• KU2: You will be able to account for a number of broad historical, cultural and theoretical contexts that situate both media objects and academic responses to those objects

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• IPSA1: You will gain experience of displaying your awareness of methodological constraints and considerations that underpin academic study
• IPSA 2: You will gain experience of collaborative academic discussion, evidencing instances academic understanding.

How will I be assessed?

You are required to submit a 3000-word Critical Writing Portfolio worth 100% of the overall module grade. The assessment is designed to assess the your ability to write, research, process and reflect on, complex theoretical ideas that inform the study of media at HE level.

You will have tutorials in the final week of the semester in which the module tutor will feedback to you regarding your individual progress on the module (your contribution to seminars, attendance, and so forth) based on observations made during teaching sessions.

You will be assessed on your ability to conduct analysis and think critically during the seminars and workshops. This will test your ability to critically engage with media. Class discussions in seminars will also be used to assess your understandings of the concepts outlined in the lectures, and the key reading you will have conducted..

You will receive formative feedback from your peers and the module tutor during the seminars throughout the course, allowing you to apprehend how your analytical skills are developing. You will receive both formative commentary and a collective summative mark on your written work. You are encouraged to reflect on your methodological choices throughout the course, allowing you to formatively assess your own performance beyond the seminars.

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

Approaches to Mass Communication will introduce you to how to analyse media objects at undergraduate level. Throughout the module you will explore key issues in the study of mass communication alongside influential critical concepts. Together, we will explore what knowledge is required to contextualise and analyse “media objects”, how one selects and integrates theory into analysis, what primary and secondary sources are considered “legitimate” in academic analysis, and how these decisions are made. The module seeks to develop your critical skills (in terms of written work and collaborative group discussion). The module will also expose you to methodological frameworks—a foundation that will act as the basis of your future studies.

Course info

UCAS Code P3P2

Credits 40

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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