All are core for single honour students; joint honours get to select a combination of modules: either Media & Society plus Cultures of Everyday Life, or Introduction to Communication & Culture plus Communication & Technology.
Communication and Culture
This module surveys the field of communications theory and provides an introduction to the key methodologies and topics of cultural studies within the context of contemporary life. Students will be introduced to key theoretical approaches to the communications process and encouraged to develop literacies across a wide range of visual and written sources, including advertising, TV, and journalism. Students will also be encouraged to assess the gains and shortcomings of particular theoretical models and to consider the processes that obstruct and frustrate the ambition of establishing clear channels of communication. The module also introduces approaches to cultural studies through the following key themes: 'high' versus 'popular' culture; race and ethnicity; feminism, Marxism and postmodernism; and the Internet.
Cultures of Everyday Life
Our daily lives are filled with 'realities' and phenomena that exceed our abilities to account for them: we might order a headstone on the way to Sainsbury's or be mesmerized by a carrier bag blowing in the wind; we may spend much of our time bored or dreaming of winning the lottery. While we may take the idea of the everyday for granted, associating it with routine, familiar and repeated experiences, our everyday lives are, simultaneously, punctuated by the exceptional, the random and the disruptive. Traditional theoretical attempts to account for the everyday tend to overlook aspects of daily life that refuse system and order: sociology, anthropology, cultural and media studies, for example, deal with activities such as work and leisure but neglect the unique texture of everyday experience. This module thus emphasises the everyday world as fraught with difficulty (in terms of seeing, theorising and representing), and looks at a wide range of attempts to register day to day existence from the modernist novel to photography to film to time capsules to poetry to video diaries to comic books.
Media and Society
This module explores communication processes in an international context outlining key imperatives (e.g. technology, mobility, economics, space/time compression, cultural difference, ethics and conflict) which impact upon the way we understand each other across the new (highly mediated) communications landscape. Particular attention will be paid to transnational media texts and audiences and the emergence of what has been termed 'the network society'.
This module takes a detailed look at debates around the impact of new information and communications technologies (such as the internet, digital TV, mobile and wireless communications) upon processes of communication. Particular attention will be paid to the social, economic and political implications of information communication technology (ICT) adoption (the emerging 'digital divide' between the information rich and poor) and to the issue of human-machine interaction (exploring the reshaping of communication forms and practices together with notions of posthumanism and cyberbodies).
This module is designed to support first year students as they make the transition into degree level work. Students will gain skills in independent and collaborative learning with the aid of guided and self directed learning tasks.
Study a foreign language of your choosing. Language options include: Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Spanish, offered at different levels (including the beginners' level).
Political Communication, Public Relations and Propaganda
The module explores the evolution of political communication from the turn of the 20th century and considers its links to the emergence of modern public relations. Starting with the influential work of Edward Bernys, who is widely considered as the father of modern public relations, we will consider how PR has developed and how its tactics and practices have increasingly been co-opted by modern politicians. This will encompass an examination of the various promotional strategies employed by political parties in campaign cycles and during non-election periods, which are sometimes described as news management and 'spin'. This module will also look at the history of modern propaganda campaigns from their early origins during the First and Second World Wars, through to more contemporary examples.
This module develops the political dimension of theoretical approaches to culture and communications. Looking at everyday forms and practices, the course highlights the ideological investments in questions of cultural value. Concentrating on race, class, gender, disability and sexuality as areas of inequality which shape, and are shaped by, cultural and communications practices, the course emphasizes the power dynamics at play in processes of cultural production, consumption and control. The programme moves from macro to micro approaches to culture beginning with broad questions around ideology, power and resistance and ending with the particulars of everyday strategies and tactics.
Understanding Cultural Industries
We tend to think of films and television programmes in aesthetic and artistic terms: the way particular texts may tell us stories, present us with larger than life performers, or inform us about the world. However, films, television programmes and other kinds of popular media are produced, distributed and marketed using the techniques and strategies of modern industry: show business is just as much about the business as it is the show. This combination of 'art' and 'industry' has long sparked debate about the status of the 'Cultural Industries' and the way that art and commerce intermingle. This module explores the complex way that cultural industries function, examining a series of dynamics that help us understand how media texts take the form they do. Specifically, it asks how modes of cultural production have changed in different contexts and periods. What role does advertising play in the life and design of film and TV products? How does market research shape the products that are made and the kinds of audience that are catered for? How do technological or legislative developments influence the way that products of the cultural industries are produced, distributed and consumed? This module will provide an introduction to these and other questions, drawing upon a range of case examples from the film and television industry, and offering students the chance to develop and pitch their own show.
This module introduces students to the key concept of translating between cultures as part of inter-cultural communication. The commingling of national and regional cultures in the light of increased flows of people, goods, capital and information is rendering the study of the impact of cultural difference on communication indispensable. This is particularly so for management theory, advertising and marketing, public relations and international news. Using a range of examples and case-studies, this module enables students to apply comparative analyses that isolate cultural effects on communication (for example, how does the same advert 'play' in collectivist as opposed to individualist cultures; how might 'high-context' communication in a Chinese context effect a business negotiation; how might cultural differences around conceptions of truth challenge Western liberal principles of freedom of speech, etc.). A balance is struck between the ideal of harmonious inter-cultural communication on the one hand, and the richness of cultural diversity on the other.
This module builds on approaches to national cinema introduced in first-year film modules. It looks at recent understandings of postnational and transnational media, and specifically considers the flows of people, media, technology, ideas, and finances among nations. The module addresses in particular global media interactions emerging from tensions between cultural homogenisation and heterogenisation. The module will present foundational theoretical material on transnational media and will include weekly case studies for students' consideration and analysis. Case studies will include particular historical and contemporary manifestations of flows of global culture.
This module focuses concepts, theories and approaches explored in first year modules on the analysis of actual cultural phenomena. In the first half of the module we will look at a number of historically important cultural analyses, and in the second half of the module we shall concentrate on the analysis of contemporary culture. Students will be encouraged to understand various methods in cultural analysis (e.g. semiotic, sociological, aesthetic) and their relation to cultural critique (one of the forms analysis often takes) with a view to undertaking a cultural analysis of their own.
Researching Culture, Film and Media
This module will introduce students to the key issues and approaches at stake in culture, film and media research, familiarising them with a sample of qualitative and quantitative methods for investigating interdisciplinary research topics. Students will be expected to identify their own topic of research and to select and reflect upon the appropriateness of particular methods to their subject.
Continue to study the foreign language of your choosing. Language options include: Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Spanish, offered at different levels.
Cultural Studies Dissertation
This module gives students the opportunity to work independently on a chosen subject area of their choice, with an appropriate supervisor.
The major theoretical approaches to understanding images have included art history analysis, semiotics, psychoanalysis and discourse analysis. Each of these theoretical ways of ‘decoding’ images is explored by this course. The course asks how making affects meaning and how images can be seen as tools of critical theory in media culture. It looks at a wide range of images from fine art, photography, print media, television and film, science and advertising. The course covers many themes such as ‘what is an image?’, ‘what is the relation between language and images?’ ‘what is the relation between image and thought?’ It ends on the open question of what visual literacy might be and mean in a visual culture.
This module examines the contested nature of culture in a variety of contexts. Beginning with a definition of culture that includes the arts and media, but broadening out to consider cultural practices in a range of situations, the module asks the key questions: who defines and controls culture and for what purposes and, conversely, what kinds of opportunities exist for cultural and creative resistance?
Hearing Cultures: Sound, Listening and Everyday Life in the Modern World
This module introduces students to the cultural and social role of sound and listening in everyday life. Scholars have argued that, since the Enlightenment, modern societies have privileged sight over the other senses in their desire to know and control the world. But what of hearing? Until recently, the role of sound in everyday life was a neglected field of study. Yet Jonathan Sterne argues that the emergence of new sound media technologies in the nineteenth century — from the stethoscope to the phonograph — amounted to an 'ensoniment' in modern culture in which listening took centre stage. Beginning with an examination of the relationship between visual and auditory culture in everyday life, this module introduces a variety of cultural contexts in which sound played an important role, including: how people interact with the sounds of their cities; how new sound technologies allowed people to intervene in everyday experience; why some sounds (such as music) have been valued over others (such as noise); the role of sound in making and breaking communities; the role of sounds in conflict and warfare; and the importance of sound in film and television from the silent era onwards. We use a variety of sound sources, such as music and archival sound recordings, in order to understand the significance of sound in everyday life from the late eighteenth century to the present.
Self, Sign and Society
This module equips students with the theoretical tools needed to explore how social identity is both asserted and challenged through the deployment of signs broadly conceived. 'Sign' is understood here primarilly with reference to Saussurean linguistics, and the impact of the structuralist and then poststructuralist movements on disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, semiotics, postcolonial theory, cultural studies and visual culture. How does our accent function as a sign of our class origins or cultural sympathies? Does skin colour always function as a social sign? How do the clothes we wear align us with particular lifestyles and ideological positions and how is this transgressed? How has the phenomenon of self-branding colonised our everyday lives? What does our Facebook profile say about how we would like to be read by the wider world? Does the logic of the sign itself exceed what we intend to do with it? How do the signs that construct a social 'self circulate in the context of new media? Are there psychological costs associated with living in this society of the sign? This module will address these and other related questions by introducing students to the approaches of thinkers such as Freud and Lacan, Saussure and Greimas, Barthes and Baudrillard, Levi-Strauss and Geertz, Derrida and Bhabha, and Mirzoeff and Mitchell among others.
Teaching Film and Media Studies for Undergraduate Ambassadors
This module is part of the nationwide Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme which works with universities to provide academic modules that enable students to go into local schools to act as inspiring role-models. Students split their time between the university-based seminar and their allocated school, where they are placed in an appropriate department as a teaching assistant. Students are required to design and deliver a teaching project aimed at improving pupil understanding of selected aspects of media studies. Students will be supported by the module convenor and the education specialist on campus, and by their contact teacher at their school. Typically there are fortnightly seminars and 7 half-days spent in school. Placements are in secondary schools and Sixth Form or FE colleges.
Public Cultures: Protest, Participation and Power
This module will adopt an interdisciplinary approach to exploring the relationship between public space, politics and technology. Drawing on research in a range of fields including: critical theory, cultural studies, cultural geography, digital studies, urban sociology and politics, it will give students an empirically focused account of debates the changing nature and uses of public space, with an emphasis on contemporary developments in urban environments. A range of protest movements will provide case-study material and offer a central focus for both theoretical and practical explorations of the role of new technologies in controlling space, resisting control and enabling new forms of civic participation.
This module asks the deceptively simple question "What is a blockbuster?" By considering a number of historical case studies, we shall treat the phenomenon within a diverse range of contexts. Where does the term "blockbuster" come from? To what type of films has it been applied? Are blockbusters a product of "New Hollywood" or did they originate in the classical period? Why are blockbusters so successful, financially, culturally and emotionally? What social value may such films possess? What conditions are necessary for its success? To what extent is the blockbuster an "international" form?
Continue to study the foreign language of your choosing. Language options include: Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Spanish, offered at different levels. You can substitute language modules with other optional modules offered in Year 3.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.