Course Overview

Attendance
UK/EU Fees £7,500 *
International Fees £14,500 *
Alumni Discount See details
Duration 1 year

* Price per academic year

Course summary

Social Media, Culture and Society MA offers a flexible, interdisciplinary exploration of key contemporary developments in the networked digital media environment. It will benefit those seeking to develop their understanding of contemporary communication and its societal, political, regulatory, industrial and cultural contexts.

Social Media, Culture and Society MA provides students with the opportunity to focus at postgraduate level on:

  • Studying the ways in which social media and the internet shape and are shaped by social, economic, political, technological and cultural factors, in order to equip students to become critical research-oriented social media experts.
  • Developing reflective and critical insights into how social media and the internet are used in multiple contexts in society, and into which roles social media can play in various forms of organisations that are situated in these societal contexts. The aim is that students are equipped to become reflective and critical social media practitioners.
  • Gaining in-depth knowledge and understanding of the major debates about the social and cultural roles of social media and the internet.
  • Acquiring advanced knowledge and understanding of the key categories, theories, approaches and models of social media's and the internet's roles in and impacts on society and human practices.
  • Obtaining advanced insights into practical activity and practice-based work that relate to how social media and the internet work and which implications they have for social and cultural practices.

This Master's is organised in the environment of the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI) and its Centre for Social Media Research. CAMRI is a world-leading research centre that studies the role of media and communication in society. It has become known as the Westminster school of critical media and communication research. The analysis of social media, culture and society is one of its research specialisms. In the most recent UK government research audit, the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), 42.2% of CAMRI’s research was classified as world-leading and 37.5% as internationally excellent, which makes it one of Britain’s four leading media and communication research institutions. 

Course structure

The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course. 

In semester one, students must select two elective modules from the two thematic groups below (any combination of modules is applicable): 

  • Theory and Global Political Economy of Media and Communication 
  • Media Politics, Regulation and Business Strategies. 

In semester two, students must select two elective modules from two thematic groups below (any combination of modules is applicable): 

  • Media Politics, Regulation and Business Strategies 
  • Media, Culture and Everyday Life. 

More information on modules and groups to which they belong to can be found below.

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 or creating a theoretically inspired social media artefact. 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 the political, economic, cultural and/or sociological factors which shape the practices and outcomes of social media or a social media artefact accompanied by a written report of approximately 7,000 words, in which you critically reflect on your social media project and ground it in relevant theory. 

This module provides you with a theoretical understanding of the development, significance and contemporary uses of social media. It fosters both critical analysis and reflective practice in the networked digital media environment. You will critically engage with key ideas of creativity, sharing and visibility in social media and will participate in creative and reflective practice using leading social media tools and platforms. 

Option modules (Semester One)

If your first language is not English, or you have no experience of the UK 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 UK academic standards and practices. 

Two elective modules from two topical clusters (any combination of modules is applicable): 

  • Theory and Global Political Economy of Media and Communication 
  • Media Politics, Regulation and Business Strategies. 

Thematic Group: Theory and Global Political Economy of Media and Communication

This module examines key developments in the media and communications industries associated with the logic of globalisation. You will explore the complex nature of the globalisation process, focusing on the emergence of both supra-national and sub-national developments and explore the relationship between new contexts of production and questions of collective culture and identity.

This module will introduce you to the political economy approach to analysing the structure and performance of communication industries in capitalist economies. 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. 

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. 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.

Thematic Group: Media Politics, Regulation and Business Strategies 

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.

This module will introduce you to a range of broadcasting and telecommunications technologies, 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. 

Core modules (Semester Two)

This module provides an overview of the critical and theoretical analysis of how the internet and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, WikiLeaks, file sharing, blogs etc) shape and impact on society, the economy and politics, and how power structures in society shape the internet and social media. 

Optional modules (Semester Two)

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. 

The module critically investigates the relationship between media, activism and censorship. It offers a critical assessment of the role of media in political mobilisation, 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. 

Thematic Group: Media, Culture and Everyday Life

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. 

A critical study of the news media in the context of current society; this module examines different aspects of how news is created, disseminated and consumed. 

This module looks at the various ways in which our understanding of diversity and difference has impacted on the way in which media models, institutions and professionals engage with social and cultural diversity. It focuses on different national media policy frameworks and media cultures, it examines the meaning of the melting pot, cultural mosaic and salad bowl metaphors and their operationalisation by the media, and looks at various media institutions and their responses to social diversity. This module is offered as an option in the dissertation route. 

Another 20 Credit Level 7 module for which the student meets the prerequisites and gains the permission of the course leader(s). The selected module must fit with your timetable and the course’s goals. 

This MA is organised in the environment of the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI) and its Centre for Social Media Research. CAMRI is a world-leading research centre that studies the role of media and communication in society. It has become known as the Westminster school of critical media and communication research. The analysis of social media, culture and society is one of its research specialisms. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), 42.2 per cent of CAMRI’s research was classified as world-leading and 37.5 per cent as internationally excellent, which makes it one of Britain’s four leading media and communication research institutions. 

Entry Requirements

Applicants should generally have an Upper Second Class Honours degree in any subject; if you have different qualifications and/or work experience, you can contact the Course Leader for advice on making an application. If English is your second Language you should have an IELTS score of 6.5, with 6.0 in each element.

View more information about our entry requirements and the application process.

Applicants should generally have an Upper Second Class Honours degree in any subject; if you have different qualifications and/or work experience, you can contact the Course Leader for advice on making an application. If English is your second Language you should have an IELTS score of 6.5, with 6.0 in each element.

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Careers

The Social Media, Culture and Society MA will benefit those seeking to develop their understanding of contemporary communication and its social, political and cultural contexts. This degree will be of particular interest to those who plan to work in the creative industries, as well as those already working in this field. Social Media, Culture and Society MA will also be of interest to students working in non-profit sectors, including NGOs and advocacy groups. The degree will help those seeking a competitive edge in a careers market that values high-level skills in communication, research and critical thinking.

The course also provides an excellent preparation for those wishing to continue their studies to PhD level. Around 10% of graduates of the course are now undertaking PhDs. Others work in the social media start-up scene in London, or work as journalists and in a range of industries and non-profit sectors.

 

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Fees and Funding

UK and EU tuition fee: £7,500 (Price per academic year)

Find out how we set our tuition fees.

Alumni discount

This course is eligible for an alumni discount. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply by visiting our Alumni discounts page.

Funding

As well as tuition fee loans, there is a range of funding available to help you fund your studies.

Find out about postgraduate student funding options.

Scholarships

The University is dedicated to supporting ambitious and outstanding students and we offer a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students, which cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Find out if you qualify for one of our scholarships.

International tuition fee: £14,500 (Price per academic year)

Find out how we set our tuition fees.

Alumni discount

This course is eligible for an alumni discount. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply by visiting our Alumni discounts page.

Funding

Find out about funding for international students.

Scholarships

The University is dedicated to supporting ambitious and outstanding students and we offer a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students, which cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Find out if you qualify for one of our scholarships.

Course Location

The vibrant home of Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design, the Harrow Campus offers one of the richest portfolios of creative industry research and learning in Europe. The recent redevelopment of the campus has seen the creation of fluid, informal learning spaces, dedicated project and gallery spaces and a revamped library. For more details, visit our Harrow Campus page.

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