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Module UXS-2055:
Privacy and the Media

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Prof Andrew McStay

Overall aims and purpose

The purpose of this dual-coded course it is to offer Level 2 (and 3) students insight into critical debates on privacy and life with data-intensive technologies The module takes an expansive view of what we mean by media to include networked environments, television, journalism, social media, and more. Through a balance of theory and case studies, students will develop awareness of the various ways in which privacy can be conceived, its philosophical understandings and industrial realities; technologies and philosophies of surveillance; and questions of identity and power. Students will eventually use their range of theoretical, technical and economic insight to make recommendations to key stakeholders in privacy matters.

Course content

Week 1: Introduction: What is privacy and why does it matter? A historical/theoretical perspective.

Week 2: Nothing to hide, nothing to fear: myth and Western roots of privacy

Week 3: Journalism: a complex relationship with privacy

Week 4: The Snowden leaks: a call for better surveillance

Week 5: Encryption: simultaneously public and private

Week 6: Platforms: disruption, connection and new social actors

Week 7: Reading Week

Week 8: Big data: machine learning and the politics of algorithms

Week 9: Re-introducing the Body: intimate and wearable media

Week 10: Empathic media: towards ubiquitous emotional intelligence

Week 11: Sexting: exposure, protocol and collective privacy

Week 12: Summary and assessment guidance

Assessment Criteria


A- to A*

Submitted work is of an outstanding quality and excellent in one or more of the following ways:

  1. Has originality of exposition with the student’s own thinking being readily apparent.
  2. Provides clear evidence of extensive and relevant independent study.
  3. Arguments are laid down with clarity and provide the reader with successive stages of consideration to reach conclusions.


D- to D+

Submitted work is adequate and shows an acceptable level of competence as follows:

  1. Generally accurate but with omissions and errors.
  2. Assertions are made without clear supporting evidence or reasoning.
  3. Has structure but is lacking in clarity and therefore relies on the reader to make links and assumptions.
  4. Draws on a relatively narrow range of material.


C- to B+

Submitted work is competent throughout and may be distinguished by superior style, approach and choice of supporting materials. It:

  1. Demonstrates good or very good structure and logically developed arguments.
  2. Draws at least in parts on material that has been sourced and assessed as a result of independent study, or in a way unique to the student.
  3. Assertions are backed by evidence and sound reasoning.
  4. Accuracy and presentation in an appropriate academic style.

Learning outcomes

  1. Display robust understanding of the philosophical/theoretical complexities of concepts of privacy, surveillance and the 'public good'

  2. Display understanding specific areas of law and policy that should guide privacy and be able to offer insight onto the philosophical norms that inform these

  3. To be able to critically analyse new media developments in light of specific theories on privacy and surveillance

  4. To be able to critically analyse new media developments in light of specific theories on privacy and surveillance

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Group Presentation 50
Report 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Seminar/workshops: (1 per week)

Private study 177

Lectures: (1 per week)


One-to-one discussion (1 per semester: opportunity to meet and discuss specific points of theory or assessment)


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: