Media, Campaigning and Social Change MA
Alternative attendance modes for this course
Courses start in September, unless otherwise stated
This new Masters degree from the world ranking Department of Journalism and Mass Communications aims to equip students with the skills, knowledge and strategic approach to develop and analyse social change campaigns, with a particular focus on the role of communications and the media. Now in its second year, this is the only MA of its kind in the UK.
This innovative course builds on our close links with leading campaigners and communicators in London's vibrant social change sector. An advisory panel, with representatives from Amnesty UK, Campaign Bootcamp, FairSay, Friends of the Earth, NCVO, RIBA, WaterAid and The National Council of Voluntary Organisations among others, will ensure we always reflect the skill sets in demand and deliver an exciting learning experience. A limited number of work placements and internships will be available.
The course is aimed at those with some experience or interest in social change, the media, and communications or campaigns within not for profit organisations. The course will help you improve your practical skills, develop a deep understanding of the theories and frameworks that underpin and shape campaign communications, and enjoy the space to reflect critically on current and past practice. It is designed to help you start, or progress, a career in charity, pressure group or public sector campaign communications. It may also be of interest to those working in corporate social responsibility.
The course team has extensive experience both in developing social change campaigns and in academic research into the connections between media and social change. The course is jointly led by Michaela O’Brien and Dr. Anastasia Kavada with additional teaching by practitioners and members of CAMRI. It is taught at our campuses in the West End of London, and also at the Harrow campus.
The course offers a number of delivery modes to suit the different needs of students and can be taken as either part-time or full-time.
There are three core modules. The first develops practical planning and campaign communications skills; the second considers media and activism theories; and the third combines theory with practice, reflecting on applying concepts like power and ethics within the setting of campaign communications. Each module has assessments – e.g. essays, campaign plans, reflective blogs, debates and presentations - rather than exams.
These three core modules make up the Postgraduate Certificate.
Students can take another three modules - chosen from a very wide range of options including practical media and content production skills; diversity issues; development and policy; social media; theories of communication and more - to complete a Postgraduate Diploma.
Students wanting to take the Masters course also complete either a 15,000-word research dissertation, or a professional practice project (which can be work-based).
Details of the individual modules are given below:
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 module semester one
Critical Issues in Campaigning
In this module, you will consider the factors that influence social change in the context of current campaigns around the world, and the historical development of campaign techniques and practices. You will apply a critical analysis of concepts such as power, theories of change, ethics, innovation, media representation, narrative and framing to practical scenarios and topical campaigns. This module requires you to monitor and critically evaluate practice in the UK and/or internationally.
Core modules semester two
Media, Activism and Politics
The module investigates the relationship between media, activism and politics. It offers a critical assessment of the role of media in political mobilisation, social movements, dissent, memes, satire and art, and political and social crises. The module looks at the impact of the communications on activism in a range of circumstances from secure democracies through different kinds of political systems. The module combines traditional academic lectures and seminars with attendance at topical events and visits to relevant exhibitions and institutions.
Planning Campaign Communications
In this module you will learn how to research and plan a strategic campaign for social change based on the theories of social change examined in Semester One. You will produce communication material such as news releases, e-alerts, tweets, infographics and/or videos to support your campaign strategy. Where possible, you work to live briefs from campaigning organisations. This is a practical, hands-on module taught through a series of workshops, visits to campaign communication teams in London-based campaigning organisations, and guest talks by leading campaigners and social change communicators.
You choose three option modules from the following menu. You may choose to focus on practical skills, on new technologies, on diversity or development, or on media audiences and industries.
Choose two of the following in addition to the core module:
- Approaches to Social and Cultural Diversity
- Global Media
- Media Management and Content Production (PR and the Media)
- Media Production
- Political Economy of Communication
- Reporting Diversity: Gender, Sexuality, Age, Disability
- Social Media and e-Marketing
- Social Media: Creativity, Sharing, Visibility
- Technology and Communications Policy
- Theories of Communication.
Choose one of the following in addition to the core modules:
- Approaches to Media and Communications Research
- Critical Theory of Social Media and the Internet
- Development and Communications Policy
- Media Audiences
- Online Journalism
- Reporting Diversity: Faith and Religion
- Reporting Migration, Race and Ethnicity
- Sociology of News
- Web Production: Westminster News Online.
Michaela O’Brien, Course leader
This course is particularly relevant if you want to start, or to progress, a career in communications and campaigning for social change, whether in a charity or non-governmental organisation; in a public sector body; in a political party or election campaigning setting; or even in a corporate social responsibility role. It could also be a stepping-stone towards a PhD and an academic career in this growing field of study.
- Communication MA
- Diversity and the Media MA
- Media and Development MA
- Public Relations MA
- Social Media MA
Length of course
- One year, full-time
- Two years, part-time
Harrow and central London
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.
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Students on the Media, Campaigning and Social Change programme create strategic campaign plans, produce campaign communications materials, publish a reflective blog, draft codes of conduct, write essays, take part in debates and make presentations in teams on case studies.
In class we discuss the connections between theory and practice. In the photos below, students are exploring the evolution of campaigning tactics and approaches globally, both through creating an evolution wall and through visits to London museums.
Here is some of the work recently produced by students:
Journalism and Mass Communication - why Westminster?
Students visit exhibitions and institutions during the course. Recent trips include the Houses of Parliament, the suffragette archives at the Museum of London, and Disobedient Objects at the Victoria and Albert Museum (pictured).
Links with employers
Leading campaigners and communicators give guest lectures, run practical training sessions for students, provide live briefs for assessed course work and host visits such as this one to WaterAid's offices.
Our first cohort of graduates
Congratulations to the first cohort who graduated from the Media, Campaigning and Social Change programme in November 2015. Thanks for your glowing feedback on the course and all the best for your careers!