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Module UXS-1021:
Intro to Studying Mass Culture

Module Facts

Run by School of Music, Drama and Performance

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Gregory Frame

Overall aims and purpose

This module will introduce theoretical understandings of contemporary popular culture. It equips students with the skills necessary to analyse and critique these theories by applying them to specific forms: film, television, radio, newspapers and magazines, books, advertising, music and games. It asks students to critically engage with, explore and critique a range of mass cultural forms and practices. The module is particularly concerned with the impact of digital technologies – specifically, the internet – on these forms of mass culture. This module will provide students with a broad theoretical frame to help understand the media and popular culture, as well as an introduction to the research methods and study skills relevant to the study of this area.

Course content

Intro to Studying Mass Culture focuses on media developments paying attention to traditional media forms such as film, TV, radio and print media and on to digital media forms. The essence of this module is to consider the impact of media on society and the ways in which they have altered or affected society. This requires us to consider: how media affect the way we live, how we as people interact and communicate, what we make, how we experience places, and more broadly how changes in media positively and negatively make a difference in the world.

More formally, this module addresses: 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.

Assessment Criteria


A- to A* (70%+) - Comprehensive knowledge - Detailed understanding - Extensive background study - Highly focused answer and well structured - Logically presented and defended arguments - No factual/computational errors - Original interpretation - New links between topics are developed - New approach to a problem - Excellent presentation with very accurate communication

C- to C+

C- to C+ (50-59%) - Knowledge of key areas/principles - Understands main areas - Limited evidence of background study - Answer focused on question but also with some irrelevant material and weaknesses in structure - Arguments presented but lack coherence - Has several factual/computational errors - No original interpretation - Only major links between topics are described - Limited problem solving - Some weaknesses in presentation and accuracy


D- to D+ (40-49%) - Knowledge of key areas/principles only - Weaknesses in understanding of main areas - Limited evidence of background study - Answer only poorly focused on question and with some irrelevant material and poor structure - Arguments presented but lack coherence - Several factual/computational errors - No original interpretation - Only major links between topics are described - Limited problem solving - Many weaknesses in presentation and accuracy - Exceeds expectations for some primary criteria - Moderate factual knowledge with several weaknesses in understanding - A few ideas/arguments are presented but with weaknesses


B- to B+ (60-69%) - Strong knowledge - Understands most but not all - Evidence of background study - Focused answer with good structure - Arguments presented coherently - Mostly free of factual/computational errors - Some limited original interpretation - Well known links between topics are described - Problems addressed by existing methods/approaches - Good presentation with accurate communication

Learning outcomes

  1. Appraise a variety of theoretical and critical approaches contained within media and communication studies.

  2. Examine how economic forces and cultural norms have influenced consumer and prosumer behaviour.

  3. Explore how technologies and media culture developed from the inception of mass media until today.

  4. Test issues in production/design and interactivity and the ideological implications of mediated culture.

  5. Critique key terms and concepts relating to the study of mass culture.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

Cynhyrchu podlediad 7-10 munud


1500 word essay


Teaching and Learning Strategy


11 x 1 hour lecture


11 x 1 hour seminar

Private study

Students will be expected to work individually, undertaking research relevant to their 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
  • 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.
  • 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

Subject specific skills

  • Awareness of how different social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning (English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • 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 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).
  • Technological skills – digital capture, digital expression, digital innovation
  • Intellectual skills shared with other disciplines – research and exploration, reasoning and logic, understanding, critical judgement, assimilation and application
  • Skills of communication and interaction – oral and written communication, public presentation, team-working and collaboration, awareness of professional protocols, sensitivity, ICT skills, etc.
  • Skills of personal management – self-motivation, self-critical awareness, independence, entrepreneurship and employment skills, time management and reliability, organisation, etc.


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Reading list

Bennett, P. and McDougall, J., ed. (2013) Barthes' Mythologies today: readings of contemporary culture. NY: Routledge.

Boyd-Barrett, O., and Newbold, C. eds. (1995) Approaches to media: a reader. London; New York: E. Arnold

Castells, M. (2001) The Rise of the Network Society (Oxford: Blackwell).

Castells, M. (2009) Communication Power (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Cohen, S. and Rutsky, R. (eds) (2005) Consumption in an Age of Information (Oxford: Berg).

Dutton, W. H. (2013) The Oxford handbook of Internet studies. Oxford: OUP.

Curran, J. (2002) Media and Power (London: Routledge).

Featherstone, M. and Burrows, R. (1995) (eds) Cyberspace, Cyberbodies, Cyberpink: Cultures of Technological Embodiment (London: Sage).

Freedman, D. (2014) The contradictions of media power. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Gauntlett, D. (2000) Web studies: Rewiring Media Studies for the Digital Age (London: Hodder Group).

Gorton, K. 2009. Media audiences: television, meaning and emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Hunsinger, J. and Senft, T. (2014) The social media handbook. New York: Routledge.

Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture (New York: New York University).

Jenkins, H. (2006) Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture (New York: New York University Press).

Johnson, F.L. (2008) Imaging in Advertising: Verbal and Visual Codes of Commerce (New York: Routledge).

Leiss, W.; Kline, S.; Jhally, S. and Botterill, J. (2005) Social communication in advertising: Consumption in the mediated marketplace (New York: Routledge).

Lessig, L. (2001) The Future of Ideas (New York: Random House).

Lister, M.; Dovey, J.; Giddings, S.; Grant, I. and Kelly, K. (2009) New Media: A Critical Introduction (London: Routledge).

Lovink, G. and Niederer, S. (eds) (2008) Video Vortex Reader (Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures).

Manovich, L. (2003) The Language of New Media (Cambridge: MIT Press).

Meadows, S.M. (2008) I, Avatar: The Culture and Consequences of having a Second Life (Berkeley, CA: New Riders).

McStay, A. (2016) Digital Advertising (Basingstoke: Palgrave-MacMillan).

McStay, A. (2011) The Mood of Information (New York: Continuum).

Mosco, V. (2009) The Political Economy of Communication (London: Sage).

Robins, K. & Webster, F. (1999) Times of the Technoculture (London: Routledge).

Rushkoff, D. (1994) Media Virus (New York: Random House).

Shirky, C. (2008) Here Comes Everybody: How Change Happens when People Come Together (New York: Penguin).

Sullivan, J.L.. (2014) Media audiences: effects, users, institutions, and power. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications.

Tapscott, D. (1998) Growing-up Digital (New York: McGraw-Hill).

Turkle, S. (1995) Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet (New York: Touchstone).

Turow, J. (2010) Media Today (New York: Routledge).

Van Dijk, J. (2006) The Network Society. London: Sage.

Van Zoonen, L. (1994) Feminist media studies. London; Thousand Oaks, CA : Sage.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: