Communications Research

Module summary

Module code: MEDS1038
Level: 5
Credits: 30
School: Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department: Design
Module Coordinator(s): Angela Mcarthur


Pre and co requisites



This course introduces communications research methods and techniques with an emphasis on practice. Students will engage with academic and professional approaches to research. Academic skills and research training will prepare the student for the independent work required in Year 3 (projects or dissertations). This will include: Research strategies; qualitative and quantitative methods; techniques for conducting research; and presentation skills.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course a student will be able to:

1 - Understand key methods and techniques for media and communications research
2 - Apply specific research methods, using appropriate techniques (e.g., focus groups, observation, content-analysis).
3 - Research scholarly, creative and professional sources using relevant tools (e.g., databases, books, journals).
4 - Communicate the outcomes of research in writing and other appropriate formats.

Indicative content

Students will be taught how to research texts, industries and audiences within media and communications. Tutors emphasise students' activities in this course, rather than formal lecturing. Each session's topic and key concepts will be introduced. Tutors will expect all students to have done the preparatory work in advance of each session. Often this will be reading, but students may be asked to research and prepare material for work in seminars - often collaboratively.

Teaching and learning activity

Learning and teaching will be delivered via two-hour weekly multi-modal classes, discussions, workshops, screenings of clips, online learning (via Moodle) and guided independent study.

Students will need to access and use digital media in seminars. All CPDA students have subscriber-access to training videos on, which will be very helpful for research projects.


Essay 1 - 35% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Learning outcomes 1, 2, & 4.
Outline Details - Write a proposal for a research project on a topic of your own choosing. The point of this is to formulate a question and explore three different research methods you could use to pursue it. 1500 words.

Essay 2 - 65% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Learning outcomes 1 - 4.
Outline Details - A research project to be carried out and presented in an essay format. The students can choose to research a particular media text, industry or audience of their choice. 2000 words.

Students are not required to pass all elements of summative assessment in order to pass the course.

Formative Assessment - Class exercises and presentations of findings. Short written exercises will be encouraged, with regular feedback from tutors.