Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module UXS-1000:
Issues in Media and Journalism

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Prof Andrew McStay

Overall aims and purpose

This module critically examines issues, theories and perspectives central to the study of Media and Journalism. From Media, it will examine the origins of media, the impact of media on society, the affordances of a range of media forms, interrelationships between technology and society, political economy, identity and community, production, dissemination and ownership, communication and interaction, privacy, and the ideological implications of networked mediated culture in a co-creative media age. From Journalism, it will examine the development of the public sphere, core journalistic ideals, forms, practices and the extent to which they have been compromised by the forces of professionalism, propaganda, public relations and market pressures. It also examines the consequences for our trust in journalism. Throughout, the course will draw on the perspectives of critical theorists, political-economists and sociologists, applying these perspectives to important examples within Media and Journalism.

Course content

The origins of professional media and journalism are indivisible, not least because the origins of professional media lies in news. This in turn necessitated advertising revenue and media distribution channels. To explore this, the course starts with a consideration of the impact of media on society in general, before moving to a more specialised focus on journalism. In the first half of the course, it will examine key media and critical theorists (such as McLuhan, Foucault and Adorno), along with foundational approaches to media (such as audience theory and political-economy). In the second half of the course, it examines issues more specific to journalism but that are also of primary relevance to understanding the media industry. This latter half presents and critiques the ideal of the public sphere. It then examines some of the forces that constitute the public sphere’s corruption – namely propaganda, public relations, advertising, market pressures and the influence of media affordances (such as those found in social media). Overall, taking a range of analytical perspectives (critical-theoretical, political-economic and sociological), a range of media and journalistic ideals, forms and practices will be critically analysed and evaluated.

Assessment Criteria


Work at this level (D and D+) will demonstrate adequate writing skills, a limited amount of background research, some attempt to grapple with concepts and a degree of success in using these to understand required topics. At threshold level mistakes will have been made in comprehension and thereafter application.

C- to C+

Work at this level (C- to C+) will demonstrate above average writing skills, background research and conceptual understanding and a degree of success in using these to understand issues in media and journalism.


At this level of A- and above students will display mature appreciation of media and journalism, its multifaceted nature, theoretical and ethical implications, and will have made an attempt to synthesize this understanding (to compare and contrast, and arrive at an argument). Students will also be able to make rich connections between theory and the real world so to advance understanding of either/both theory or/and appreciation of a practical media and journalism matter.


At B- to B+ a greater attempt to engage with ideas will have been made. Mistakes may still have been made but the student will have read more broadly and understood their examples in greater depth (whether this be a law, company, technology or other aspect of media and journalism).

Learning outcomes

    1. Demonstrate an understanding of how technologies and media culture developed from the inception of mass media until today, and how these developments can be contextualised historically.
    1. Demonstrate an understanding of key terms and concepts relating to mass media, media culture and digital media.
    1. Demonstrate an awareness of issues of production/design and reception, ownership, access, interactivity, and the ideological implications of mediated culture.
    1. Be able to describe the development of core journalistic ideals, practices and forms over time.
    1. Understand a range of critical-theoretical, political-economic and sociological approaches to studying media and journalism
    1. Demonstrate a good grasp of Jurgen Habermas’ ideal of the public sphere, and how it has been compromised (‘refeudalised’) via the forces of professionalism, propaganda, public relations and market pressures.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Leading a seminar 30
essay 70

Teaching and Learning Strategy


The lecture format will be employed, although the lecturer will be sensitive to need for high levels of interaction so as to ensure comprehension.

One-to-one supervision

One-to one tutorial for advice on assignment and other course comprehension matters.


These will primarily be student-led so as to encourage engagement and maintain weekly enthusiasm.

Private study

This will involve reading course materials and beyond. The latter will encompass academic sources, but also industry reports, policy documents and relevant news sources to be advised by the lecturer.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • An understanding of creative and critical processes, and of the wide range of skills inherent in creative writing. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.1).
  • Awareness of how different social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning (English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • The ability to synthesize information from various sources, choosing and applying appropriate concepts and methods (English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Ability to formulate and solve problems, anticipate and accommodate change, and work within contexts of ambiguity, uncertainty and unfamiliarity (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Ability to engage in processes of drafting and redrafting texts to achieve clarity of expression and an appropriate style. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3; NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Information technology (IT) skills broadly understood and the ability to access, work with and evaluate electronic resources (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: