Course Overview

Attendance
UK/EU Fees £8,000 *
International Fees £16,500 *
Alumni Discount See details
Duration 1 year

* Price per academic year

Course summary

The Social Media, Culture and Society MA will give you the opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of contemporary digital communication and its seismic impact on politics, culture and society.

Social media have challenged how we understand communication, democracy, news, relationships, privacy, advertising and entertainment. Social media have captured the attention and imagination of hundreds of millions of people. They enable their users to develop and display their creativity, to empathize with others, and to find connection, communication and communion. But social media have also captured those users’ personal information, and turned their daily lives into commercial data through business models built around surveillance. 

The course examines social media as industries and as central sites for understanding the cultural politics of everyday life. It explores the meanings of sharing and privacy, of remix cultures and new forms of journalism, of new forms of communication and new forms of citizenship. It connects social media to other digital phenomena such as the internet of things, Big Data, and media convergence. In its core modules, learners engage with questions of media technologies and texts, of platforms and users, and of how networked digital media are adopted and adapted in an environment built around the convergence of personal and public communication. 

Option modules allow you to develop specialist expertise in areas such as data and society, global media, or activism and politics. All learners will develop high-level skills in research, critical thinking and communication. 

This Masters is organised in the environment of the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI). CAMRI is a world- leading research centre that studies the role of media and communication in society. In the most recent UK government research audit, the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), 79.7% of CAMRI’s research was classified as world-leading or internationally excellent, which makes it one of the UK’s top 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 take two core modules and also choose one optional module. Students also begin work on their major social media research project.

In semester two, students choose three optional modules. Students also continue to work on their research projects, working with an individual supervisor towards completing the project in August.

Learners may substitute one option module from this list with another relevant 20-credit level 7 module, if they receive permission from both their own course leader and the leader of the module that they wish to study. 

Core modules (semester one)

This module provides students 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. Students 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. This will involve using social media tools to explore course concepts and theoretical materials by, for example, blogging about course readings, making an online video essay to introduce a weekly seminar discussion, or making a photo essay in response to a key module concept.

The module covers a range of theoretical approaches to studying media and communication in a loosely historical order. Students will acquire an understanding of the historical contexts in which these ways of thinking emerged, be introduced to the leading thinkers driving these approaches and to key concepts associated with them. The focus will be on critically assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each approach, and students will be encouraged to carefully consider the applicability of each to the current communications landscape. The module will finish with a look at the most recent debates in the field, addressing the question whether new media do indeed require new theory. Students will be assessed in two written essay assignments on their ability to engage with often complex ideas and to test the utility of these for understanding current phenomena. Students will acquire an understanding of what is a history of our field, though it needs to be remembered that this is one possible history of many, and that many non-Western approaches have not been included due to the time constraints of the module.

This module enables learners to develop and carry out an independent research project. It provides them with a theoretical and practical understanding of key methodological approaches to social and digital media and communication research. Each learner will identify their own area of research interest, and will design, develop and investigate an original research question. Candidates will present their findings as a written dissertation of 15,000 words. Learners who have appropriate skills and experience can propose the option to present their research findings in alternative formats to the written dissertation. In Semester 1, learners will develop their project proposals in a series of workshops and a symposium; from Semester 2, each learner will work with an individual supervisor to complete their project for submission in August.

Option modules (Semester One)

This module will provide an overview of contemporary developments in the global media and communication industries and their impact on cultures worldwide. It will explore the changing political economy of the media related to questions of collective culture and identity in the new global context. The module will focus on transformations in existing media, with a particular emphasis on broadcasting and the audio-visual media and look at innovations of new information and communications technologies, especially the Internet. The module will examine the complex relation between the global and the local, reflected in the growing ‘glocalization’ of Western media products as well as the increasing globalisation of non-Western media such as Japanese comics, Brazilian soap operas, Arabic news networks and the Indian film industry. In exploring such phenomena, one key aspect of the module will be to analyse how the commercial media ecology impacts on the public media and the public sphere. The module will also analyse the role of the Internet in the development of transnational social movements and civil society.

This module provides a broad introduction to the political economy approach to the media, communication, culture and digital media. The module provides an introduction to political economy in general and the political economy of communication in particular, which entails a focus on political economy theories, the history of the political economy of communication-approach, the political economy of media concentration, the political economy of advertising, the political economy of global media, the political economy of cultural labour, the political economy of the Internet and digital labour, and the political economy of the information society.

This module is intended to lay the theoretical foundations when it comes to investigating and understanding how digital data and society intersect. The main focus of this module is on digital data practices and how they shape and are shaped by socio-cultural, political and subjective factors. Students will be introduced to key concepts and theoretical frameworks from an interdisciplinary perspective and engage with those during seminars and independent study. The assessment consists of a creative data project as well as a written essay.

Optional modules (Semester Two)

This module introduces students to the main critical theories of digital media, and provides specific focus on the implications of race and culture on the development, infrastructures and ownership of digital media. This module has a particular interest in the power structures generated by geo-politics and fosters international knowledge of digital media. It uses readings and videos about the ways race, class and gender impact the production and circulation of digital culture and helps breaks down the popular mythologies about a placeless virtual reality and borderless digital culture. Whilst providing students with a theoretical and critical base, practical skills will also be developed through the making of a digital video artefact.

This module is designed to introduce learners to some important methods in social and media research. We shall look at how to undertake selective quantitative and qualitative research methods, understanding and exploring the different stages of the research process, from a definition of a research hypothesis, to data design, 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.

Building on Data and Society 1, this module places an emphasis on methods for researching datafication. This module is intended to provide an introduction at postgraduate level to the methodological tools for collecting, analysing and visualising digital data, both as an object of study and a means for analysis. The focus is on qualitative, quantitative as well as digital data methods.

This module critically investigates the relationship between media, activism and politics. It offers a critical assessment of the role of media in political mobilizations, social movements, elections, and political and social crises. The module looks at issues around the media and democracy, public opinion and the public sphere. It critically investigates the role of humour, art, satire, memes and creative practices in political communication. It also examines issues of censorship, surveillance, freedom of expression and radical transparency in a variety of countries and political processes. The module also critically discusses the power dynamics that shape the media representation of political issues, as well as the role of the media in the framing of humanitarian crises. 

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.

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.

More information

Careers

Graduates of the Social Media, Culture and Society MA are able to work in a wide range of sectors and professions. The degree will benefit those seeking a competitive edge in a careers market that values high-level skills in communication, research and critical thinking. This degree will be of particular interest to students who 

  • plan to work or are already working in the creative industries
  • work in non-profit sectors, including NGOs and advocacy groups
  • work in a variety of sectors including research, consultancy, administration and management.

It also provides an excellent preparation for those planning to continue their studies to PhD level. 

Today’s organisations need graduates with both good degrees and skills relevant to the workplace. The University of Westminster is committed to developing employable graduates by ensuring that: 

  • Career development skills are embedded in all courses 
  • Opportunities for part-time work, placements and work-related learning activities are widely available to students 
  • Staff continue to widen and strengthen the University’s links with employers in all sectors, involving them in curriculum design and encouraging their participation in other aspects of the University’s career education and guidance provision 
  • Staff are provided with up-to-date data on labour market trends and employers’ requirements, which will inform the service delivered to students. 

 

Our Careers and Employability Service is here to support you to achieve your full potential.
 
With a growing network of over 3,000 employers around the world and a team of experienced careers consultants, we provide you with a variety of opportunities to work and develop new skills. As a University of Westminster student, you’ll have access to our services throughout your studies and after you graduate.
 
We can help you:
    •    find work placements, graduate jobs or voluntary experience related to your course
    •    discover international opportunities to enhance your employability
    •    write effective CVs and application forms
    •    develop your interview and enterprise skills
    •    plan your career with our career consultants
    •    gain insights into your chosen industry through mentoring
    •    meet employers and explore your career options at our employer fairs, careers presentations and networking events 
 
Find out more about the Careers and Employability Service.

 

Find out more about other employability initiatives at the University of Westminster. 

Fees and Funding

UK and EU tuition fee: £8,000 (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: £16,500 (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 our creative, media and digital courses, 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.

Contact us

Contact the Course Enquiries Team:

+44 (0)20 7915 5511

[email protected]

Opening hours (GMT): 9am–4.30pm Monday to Friday

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