Communications Policy MA
Alternative attendance modes for this course
Courses start in September, unless otherwise stated
View course-specific entry requirements
You should possess, or be expecting, a good first degree (equivalent to at least an Upper Second or a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA ) of 3.00) from a recognised university in a humanities or social sciences discipline and/or have relevant professional experience. Particular consideration will be given to mature applicants. The testing nature of the degree means that you must be able to write and speak fluent English. If English is your second language you should have an IELTS score of at least 6.5 with 6.0 in each element. You may additionally be asked to write 500 words on a topic assigned by the university. As far as possible, telephone interviews are conducted before offers of admission are made. In these, the interviewer looks for evidence of interest in and commitment to, the study of communication, as well as analytical skills.
This course is designed to give you a critical analysis of issues of policy and regulation in the media, information and/or telecommunications/internet sectors, which may include links between policy and policy-making affecting media industries and telecommunications/internet and political, economic or social developments affecting markets, companies, technologies, institutions or international relations. The course encourages diversity and is designed to have international appeal. It ensures that you receive a relevant, well-grounded, high-quality education and skill base, enabling you to have a wide, clear and comprehensive understanding of communications policies.
Based on continuous assessment, the course is taught in lectures and seminars by the team from Westminster’s top-rated Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI). You will be part of a bustling, multicultural academic department which boasts a strong research culture. You will be able to attend the regular talks by outside speakers (academics and practitioners) on a variety of communication and mass media issues.
The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course. For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the full course document.
Core modules, semester one
A taught module and group workshops in the first semester will guide you in conducting a major piece of independent research. This module will be supplemented by individual supervisions beginning from the second semester. The aim is to give you a guided framework within which you can demonstrate your ability to carry out advanced independent study and write it up in the form of a dissertation. The dissertation is a 15,000-word piece of original research on a topic agreed with your supervisor and related to issues of policy and regulation in the media, information and/or telecommunications/internet sectors, which may include links between policy and policy-making affecting media industries and telecommunications/internet and political, economic or social developments affecting markets, companies, technologies, institutions or international relations.
POLITICAL ANALYSIS OF COMMUNICATIONS POLICY
As international regimes and national regulation become increasingly important in the creation and delivery of communications, it becomes necessary to understand how the two levels interact. This module will introduce you to those theories of policy making and international relations which provide tools for the analysis of communications policies, and their dynamic interaction at the national and international level.
Option modules, semester one
This module provides an overview of contemporary developments in global media and communication industries and their impact on cultures worldwide. It focuses on transformations in existing media, with a particular emphasis on broadcasting and the audio-visual media and looks at innovations of new information and communications technologies, especially the Internet.
POLITICAL ECONOMY OF COMMUNICATION
This module will introduce you to the political economy approach to analysing the production, distribution and consumption of media content in text and audiovisual form, whether online or offline, as well as the workings of telecoms networks behind online media. It identifies distinctive economic features of media and relates these to trends in the organisation of specific media industries, taking account of ways in which the economics of media have been affected by the spread of digital technologies.
STUDY SKILLS (NO CREDITS)
If your first language is not English, or you have no experience of the British education system, you will benefit from this module. You will be taken through the process of producing a piece of written work, from note taking to editing, so as to enable you to produce written work in accordance with current British academic standards and practices.
TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS POLICY
This module will offer a comprehensive introduction to a range of broadcasting and telecommunications technologies and the internet, enabling you to assess the economic and political issues surrounding each technology. Topics covered include capital investment in networks, how and why technologies change, strategic interests and communications, and substitutable technologies and the creation of markets.
THEORIES OF COMMUNICATION
The module is intentionally eclectic. You will cover (in a loosely historical way) the arguments, advantages and problems of the main sociological, cultural and psychological theories about the media, from classical modernization concepts to contemporary concerns with network society. It aims to provide a comprehensive introduction to the most important ways of approaching the fundamental issues posed by the relationships between the media of communication and social and economic life. It will also enable you to understand the problems posed by different intellectual traditions, and to place those theories in their proper contexts.
Core module, semester two
APPROACHES TO MEDIA AND COMMUNICATION RESEARCH
This module will introduce you to the main methods of communication research. We shall look at how to undertake selective quantitative and qualitative methods, understanding and exploring the different stages of the social science research process, from a definition of a research hypothesis, to data collection and analysis. We shall also look at the theoretical reasoning behind different methodological approaches to media and society, in particular the politics of social research.
Option modules, semester two
This module is for you if you have little or no knowledge of the Chinese media, but nevertheless realise that for anyone interested in the media in the world today, some understanding of the biggest national media system is a necessity. The objective is to introduce participants to the Chinese media in the context of a world order changing on account of the growth in wealth and power of several countries, in particular China. The Chinese media are seen as a factor in this, and also as an example of a media system distinct from the Anglo-American, which has often been touted as a model of universal applicability.
DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNICATIONS POLICY
The aims of this module are to provide you with a theoretical overview of the concept of ‘development’, and the opportunity to consider how it relates to empirical experience in communications in small and developing countries. You will be able to compare the experiences of a range of countries in attempting to retain cultural autonomy, in developing their own communications technologies and policies, in democratisation, and in exporting mass media content.
MEDIA, ACTIVISM AND CENSORSHIP
This module offers a critical assessment of the role of media in political mobilization, social movements, dissent, wars, conflicts, elections, and political and social crises. The module considers the impact of different forms of censorship and regulation on social, political and cultural expression in the media. It also looks at the impact of the internet and new means of transparency and communications on journalism and activism in a range of circumstances from secure democracies through different kinds of political systems.
This module begins with an overview of media audiences, and goes on to analyse audiences and media institutions, passive/ active audiences, media influence and effects, and ethnography and media audiences. The second part of the module is devoted to discussions of media and identity, fans, diasporas and new media audiences.
MEDIA BUSINESS STRATEGY
This module explores the challenges facing media organisations in the fields of strategy and innovation. It addresses the contextual nature of strategy formation, identifies and analyses key drivers of change within media industries, and examines the application of structured methods of planning in media product and service development. The module applies management concepts and tools to business and strategic challenges confronting public and private media enterprises across the globe.
POLICIES FOR DIGITAL CONVERGENCE
The module studies digital convergence and the role of policy and regulation in facilitating and controlling that process. The focus is on Internet-related policy debates and concepts drawing mostly on developments in the USA, the European Union and Britain but with a critical awareness of the issues facing developing, transitional and small countries. It critically assesses competing arguments concerning the interplay between policy and technology and implications for market structures and business models, as appropriate.
SOCIOLOGY OF NEWS
You will examine both theoretically and empirically different aspects of the news creation, dissemination and reception processes. The module will look at the relevance of different traditions in mass media research to the study of news and will be based on a number of case studies. The module will focus mainly on contemporary practices, in both print and electronic media, but attention to historical and conceptual perspectives will also be given.
Note: The University is constantly improving its offer to students. It is intended that some changes, such as practice options under new course titles, may be approved between printing this brochure and enrolment for this course. You are therefore advised to look at the website for updated details
Graduates have found jobs in middle and upper management in the media industries, as well as in the broader private sector (eg consulting and advertising firms), the public sector (eg government ministries, regulatory authorities), international organisations and NGOs.
Length of course
One-year, full-time or two to five years, part-time day
Additional costs information
To check what your tuition fees cover and what you may need to pay for separately, see our What tuition fees cover page.
Students are encouraged to seek work experience in the industry and opportunities are regularly communicated by members of staff. This has often led to full-time employment once graduating from the course.
In addition, the MA course takes advantage of the vibrancy of the media environment in London. For instance, students are encouraged to benefit from events taking place in London, eg at Frontline Club.
Equally, there are a number of activities within the Department that give plenty of opportunities to students for networking which increases their employability. An example here is the University’s Communication And Media Research Institute (CAMRI) seminars every fortnight where leading researchers present their work. This extracurricular activity promotes networking among MA students and gives them an opportunity to meet PhD students, other research staff and visiting speakers.
Further networking opportunities are offered by the regular workshops and conferences which the various research centres within CAMRI organize and which our students can attend for free. These workshops and conferences bring together academic researchers, industry representatives as well as regulators and policy makers.
The MA course is well established and has a strong (inter)national reputation. Our students are very successful in gaining employment status, in many cases straight from graduating the course. Graduates have found jobs in middle- and upper management in media industries, as well as the broader private (e.g. consulting and advertising firms) and public sector (eg. government ministries, regulatory authorities), international organisations and NGOs. Some graduates also continue to do PhD research. Success in their Masters degree has allowed many who have been in media jobs before joining the course to move into more senior roles within their companies or organisations and to transfer to new sectors of the media.
Graduates from the MA Communications Policy are now working, amongst others, at national media and communications Ministries and regulatory authorities, media and communications organisations, and consulting firms around the world.
Our dedicated Career Development Centre is actively working with an ever-expanding network of over 3,000 employers to provide you with exceptional employability support and guidance. As a result we were nominated as finalists for a significant industry award – the NUE Awards Most Improved Commitment to Employability 2016.
We provide our students with work placements and international opportunities to support them in becoming highly employable, globally engaged graduates, and with one million businesses operating within 20 miles of the University of Westminster, over 84% of our students are in work or further study six months after graduation. Our graduates work in a variety of sectors and organisations, from small/medium-sized companies and start-ups to large not-for-profit organisations and corporates.
During your time at Westminster you will be able to use our comprehensive online vacancy service and meet with our experienced careers consultants, providing you with thorough training and support on CV writing, application forms, interview preparation and assessment centres.
In addition to this, you will receive careers support from academic staff and faculty work placement teams, offering targeted course-specific careers advice and assistance in securing a work placement during your time at Westminster. You can find out more about course-specific career opportunities by visiting the Prospects website.
For more details, visit the employability section on our site.
Career Development Centre
Our Career Development Centre can help and support you throughout your study and after graduation.
We can help you to:
- find part-time/vacation, placement and graduate jobs, including voluntary experience
- explore how to develop the skills that employers are looking for
- plan your career development
- identify your career options
- market yourself effectively in CVs, application forms and at interviews
- develop your enterprise skills
We also organise a range of presentations and networking events with employers, professional bodies, alumni and other organisations throughout the year to help you with career planning.
Find out more about the Career Development Centre.
Our Work Placement Teams are based in your Faculty Registry Office and can help you find a suitable placement, as well as support you in making applications, writing CVs and improving your interview technique.
More details on work placements can be found on our Work placements page.
Career options in your subject area
Our team of careers consultants work closely with Faculty departments to deliver tailored employability support, including subject-specific workshops, employer events and careers information, advice and guidance.
Study in the city
If you study at the University of Westminster, everything that London has to offer is on your doorstep.
Our central London campuses are ideally located for the city's fantastic learning institutions including libraries, archives and museums, as well as opportunities for shopping, eating out, enjoying London's nightlife or just simply relaxing.
After choosing your course, one of your biggest decisions will be where to live, and we aim to make that choice as easy as possible. Whether you want to apply for our Halls of Residence or live in private housing, we can help you to find the right accommodation.
Fees, funding, bursaries and scholarships
In recent years the University of Westminster's scholarship scheme has been the largest university scholarships scheme in the UK, and our Scholarships Department won the Times Higher Education inaugural Award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students.
All students on courses of a year or more and who are registered for more than three modules will be allocated a personal tutor.
Your personal tutor will be there to support you from induction onwards, helping you to integrate into the University, academically and socially, at an early stage. They will be able to give you advice and support on academic and personal matters affecting your study, as well as developmental advice through regular individual and group tutorials.
Polylang is a University-wide programme through which you can study a language as a free choice module.
Personal advice and counselling
While most students overcome any problems with help from friends, family or a personal tutor, the University's free counselling and advice services are there if you need them.
With one of the UK's largest international student populations, the University of Westminster has plenty of experience in giving you the help and support you need to make the most of your time with us.
Study Abroad and Summer School programmes
Westminster's Study Abroad programme has been running for more than 15 years, and is one of the largest in the UK – each year we welcome hundreds of visiting students from universities all over the world.
If you are already studying outside the UK, the programme offers you the opportunity to study with us for one or two semesters, or for a period in the summer.
Sport and recreation
The University has extensive sport and recreation facilities, with a sports hall and gym at Harrow, a state-of-the-art gym at Regent Campus, and the University sports ground by the River Thames at Chiswick.
University of Westminster Students' Union (UWSU) aims to make sure you have the best university experience possible by providing a range of activities and support, from sports clubs to society groups, educational advice and social events.