Media Context

Module summary

Module code: MEDS1163
Level: 5
Credits: 30
School: Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department: Design
Module Coordinator(s): Hannah Lammin



This module aims to equip students with the theoretical skills to critically evaluate the importance of media in wider social, aesthetic, political and economic environments.

It aims to provide a concentrated engagement with a range of challenges facing the contemporary media. It will also present the intellectual frameworks that underpin our ability to critically assess these challenges. It will do so by asking a range of questions relating to three key areas: political economy, aesthetics, and technology.

• How is media situated within the current political and economic landscapes? How has the situation changed in historical terms?

• What have been the key aesthetic shifts in media? How do media impact on our aesthetic judgement and traditions?

• What has been the impact of technology on media?

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:
1. To build on debates in the area of media theory to produce coherent arguments.
2. To understand of the limits of their knowledge, and how this influences analyses and interpretations based on that knowledge.
3. To produce written work that critically engages with existing literature and debates.
4. To use the knowledge base developed during the course to deliver a presentation.
5. To identify and reflect upon ways in which theoretical approaches to media inform the students’ own practice.

Indicative content

Media is ubiquitous and consistently redefines how we engage with the world around us. This module will develop students’ critical understanding of theoretical frameworks surrounding media in social, political and aesthetic contexts, to deepen their understanding of how this happens - and why it matters.

Term 1 will introduce some of the most important historical ideas that have shaped the evolution of media theory and its socio-political concerns, and will ask students to reflect on the continued relevance of these ideas in relation to the contemporary media landscape. It will begin by posing the question: ‘what causes social change?’ and will use this as a lens through which to survey political economy approaches to media theory. As the term progresses, the focus will shift towards the role of technology in shaping human culture and communication.

In term 2, students will be asked to evaluate and apply these ideas in the contemporary context, by exploring how media aesthetics have changed in the shift from analogue to digital technology, and critically examining the effects of these changes.

Teaching and learning activity

This module provides a mix of learning & teaching activities that are aimed at providing students with increasing autonomy in their studies. Term 1 will provide the foundations for further study with a combination of lectures & seminars and assessed by a written essay. Term 2 will concentrate on specific case studies building towards a final presentation.


Essay: 50% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Word Length: 2500 to 3000 words.
Outline Details: Formal essay answering one of a range of questions relating a selection of primary texts discussed in seminars to contemporary media examples.

Presentation: 50% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Outline Details: 10 minute presentation. Research based presentation on subject of students’ choosing, demonstrating an awareness in historical developments of media and their aesthetic and social effects.

Formative Assessment: All students will be invited to respond to a research question in week 6 based on the readings from week 1-5. Written feedback will be given, and discussed during a small group (4-5) feedback sessions.