Course Overview

UK Fees £950 *
International Fees £1,900 *
Alumni Discount See details
Duration 2 years

* Price per 20-credit module

Course summary

This innovative Master's degree aims to equip students with the skills, knowledge and strategic approach to develop and analyse social change campaigns and activism, with a particular focus on the role of communications and the media. This is the only postgraduate programme of its kind, and has a flexible delivery to suit both full-time and part-time students.

The 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, Friends of the Earth, Save the Children, WaterAid, SumOfUs, Advocacy Hub, Campaign Bootcamp, FairSay 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. Alumni work in a range of senior campaign and communications roles in charities, NGOS, agencies, think tanks and government departments.

The course team has extensive experience both in developing social change campaigns and in academic research into the connections between media, protest and social change. The course is jointly led by Michaela O’Brien and Dr Anastasia Kavada, with additional teaching by practitioners and members of our internationally renowned Communication and Media Research Institute. 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. In addition to the Media, Campaigning and Social Change MA, we offer a Media, Campaigning and Social Change Postgraduate Diploma and a Media, Campaigning and Social Change Postgraduate Certificate, which comprise fewer modules than the full MA and so can be completed in a shorter period of time.

To study for the Postgraduate Certificate, you will be required to take the three core 20-credit modules listed in the Course Structure. The Postgraduate Certificate usually takes one year to complete part-time. Apply for the Postgraduate Certificate now via the Westminster online application form.

To study for the Postgraduate Diploma, you will be required to take the three core 20-credit modules listed in the Course Structure and also choose an additional three 20-credit modules from the Option modules list. The Postgraduate Diploma usually takes one year to complete full-time or two years to complete part-time. Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma now via the Westminster online application form.

Course structure

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 two pathways, one with a more practical emphasis and one with a more theoretical emphasis. The theoretical pathway includes three thematic areas: a) media industries and audiences, b) new technologies, and c) news, globalization, development and diversity. Students can combine modules from different pathways and thematic areas or focus on a single pathway and thematic area. These three modules allow to complete the 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).

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

Core modules

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.

20 credits

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.

20 credits

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, masterclasses and guest talks by leading campaigners and social change communicators.

20 credits

MA students only

The module will provide you with the opportunity to undertake independent research in the form of a dissertation that critically, systematically and theoretically develops an understanding and analysis of the role of media in campaigning and social change. Alternatively, you can complete a professional practice project (which can be work based).

60 credits

Option modules - Practice Pathway

A course for students new to content production in English and those new to producing professional content, particularly content with an industry focus. The module requires students to research and analyse data about the market and performance of media businesses. Students focus on evaluating the strategic responses to market changes, of medium and large corporate media businesses. Working in teams, students develop a proposal for a new digital media start-up business to take advantage of market changes. Finally, they pitch their ideas to a panel of industry experts.

20 credits

The contemporary media relations environment revolves around a core understanding of the roles of, and opportunities supplied by paid, owned, earned and social media. This module equips students with the professional practice skills to conduct media relations within this environment, including producing shareable content, presenting work online, and identifying key influencers with whom interaction is needed to reach key target audiences. In addition to understanding this largely digital space, the module also stresses the importance of understanding the constituents of a compelling news story, together with the skills of news release writing, conducting media interviews and preparing media events and other materials.

20 credits

The module covers key perspectives on the cultural production and representation of social and cultural diversity with the focus on race, ethnicity and faith, in the media. It also discusses, examines and critically assesses the role of the media and journalistic practice within such processes. Particular emphasis will be placed in critically examining media stereotypes of people of colour, various ethnic and religious groups, refugees and immigrant communities in the mainstream news media. We will also identify existing, and produce more inclusive reporting and media alternatives to enable a fairer representation of social and cultural diversity in the media. In class and scheduled newsroom sessions we will engage with identifying and critically reflecting on existing journalism practice across the wstern world and producing more inclusive reporting and media alternatives to enable a fairer representation of social and cultural diversity in the media. We assessing will also engage with critically assessing and analysing the existing and future role of social media in the possible democratisation of social and cultural diversity coverage in the media.

20 credits

The module will critically examine the influence, responsibility, and power of journalism with a focus on broadcast media across a number of genres in reporting on and representing gender, sexuality, age & disability. It employs practical exercises, personal examination and critical media analysis to increase awareness and critical engagement with the issues surrounding the reporting of diversity in society. It will engender a critical engagement with visual media and will train students to develop a self-reflective approach to devising, developing and delivering individual and team work necessary to address these issues through the production of an investigative short piece for TV and a short documentary film.

20 credits

Option modules - Theory Pathway

This module is designed to introduce you 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.

20 credits

Media Industries and Audiences

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.

20 credits

The first part of the module reviews a range of interdisciplinary perspectives, focusing on and critiquing key debates on media audiences. Using a global perspective and different genre-based case studies, the second part of the module is devoted to discussions of digital media, post-modernity and identity.

20 credits

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.

20 credits

New Technologies

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 presentation to introduce a weekly seminar discussion, or making a photo essay in response to a key module theory.

20 credits

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.

20 credits

This module offers a comprehensive introduction at postgraduate level to the politics of technologies involved in television, telecommunications and the Internet.

20 credits

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.

20 credits

Building on Data and Society: Concepts and Applications, 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. The module consists of a range of lectures and seminars.

20 credits

News, Globalization, Development and Diversity

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.

20 credits

This module provides an overview of the theoretical and practical history of communications within the development process of middle and lower income economies and considers the impact of international institutions in the expansion of western media. It examines the role of new technologies and the role of BRICS/alternative actors (e.g. China/NGOs) in communications policy and development. It concludes by examining the impact of activism on the shaping of policies for public service media.

20 credits

A critical study of the news media in the context of current society.

20 credits

The module covers a range of theoretical debates and approaches to social and cultural diversity, ranging from assimilationism to variants of multiculturalism and examines the conceptual tools devised to make sense of diverse societies as well as related concepts such as social cohesion, integration, pluralism, diversity, super diversity and more current debates on ‘post -multiculturalism’ or ‘post-diversity’. We will conceptually engage with multiple theories on identity formation and the position of different strands of thought in its study; from ethnomethodology, to post structuralism and postmodernism and different strands of feminism. Examples from everyday life and current politics from across the world will be highlighted and used throughout the teaching. While the module engages with conceptual debates, it does so, through the use and analysis of historical examples and current political events. The position advanced in teaching is that engaging and understanding the complexity of our societies is not just a theoretical enterprise but also necessary in understanding the nature of our societies and the politics involved in processes of ‘othering’, and excluding specific groups from citizenship. That social and political change can be best understood as a constant process of struggle for recognition, and acknowledging such struggles, allows for a better understanding of the history and the future of our societies.

20 credits

Programme Specification

For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the programme specification.

To request an accessible version of the programme specification, please email [email protected]

Course Leaders

Michaela-O'Brien's profile photo


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.

Michaela O'Brien

Head of School - West. Sch Media Comms

Michaela O'Brien has more than 20 years experience developing campaign communications for national and international charities and not-for-profits including Amnesty International, War on Want and Carers UK. She set up the U.K.'s first postgraduate module on not-for-profit communications in 2007. Leading not-for-profit practitioners, and Westminster academics with relevant expertise including Winston Mano and Roza Tsagarousianou, also teach students on the course.

 

See full profile

Anastasia Kavada

Reader

Anastasia Kavada’s research looks at the role of digital media in social movements and campaigning organisations, focusing on processes of organising, storytelling and capacity-building. She has written about a wide range of movements and organisations, including Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion, the Occupy movement, the Indignados, the Global Justice Movement, as well as Avaaz, Amnesty International and Oxfam.

Anastasia is Co-Leader of the Arts, Communication and Culture Research Community (ACC), which fosters interdisciplinary research across these areas within the University of Westminster. She is also a Coordinating Editor of the academic journal Social Movement Studies.’

See full profile
Anastasia Kavada's profile photo

The passion and diversity of the students makes this course what it is; together we explore how communications can help deliver progressive social change.

 

Entry Requirements

A minimum of an upper second class honours degree (2:1) or a lower second class honours degree (2:2) and substantial relevant work experience.

The Personal Statement must reflect the understanding of the course and how you will contribute.

If your first language is not English you should have an IELTS 7.0 with 6.5 in writing and speaking and 6.0 in listening and reading.

Applicants are required to submit one academic reference.

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

A minimum of an upper second class honours degree (2:1) or a lower second class honours degree (2:2) and substantial relevant work experience.

The Personal Statement must reflect the understanding of the course and how you will contribute.

If your first language is not English you should have an IELTS 7.0 with 6.5 in writing and speaking and 6.0 in listening and reading.

Applicants are required to submit one academic reference.

More information

Careers

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.

Graduates from this course are confident campaign communicators and work in senior roles in charities, government, trades unions and NGOs including Amnesty International, Change.Org, the RSPCA, the Campaign Against Living Miserably and the Church Mission Society. Alumni also work at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, in virtual reality, in think tanks, in communications and public affairs agencies and in national government departments in the global south running behaviour change campaigns.

They work in roles as varied as digital content manager, campaigns manager, head of fundraising and communications intern.

Alumni from each cohort are building an international course network through our course-specific Facebook group.

Our advisory panel, with representatives from Amnesty UK, Friends of the Earth, FairSay, Mencap, the National Council of Voluntary Organisations and WaterAid among others, ensures that we always reflect the skill sets in demand and deliver an exciting learning experience.  

Leading campaigners and communicators give guest lectures, run practical training sessions for students, provide live briefs for assessed coursework and host visits to their offices.

A limited number of work placements and internships are available, and students have interned at charities and not-for-profits including WaterAid, the Sheila Makechnie Foundation, Children England, Mencap and Climate Bonds Initiative.

Student visit to Wateraid

Recent visit to one of WaterAid's offices

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.

Student Work

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 globally through creating a history wall and visiting the Museum of London, creating apps for a live NGO brief and taking part in a masterclass on storytelling.

Find out more

Field trips

Exhibition with paintings and balloons

 

We take full advantage of our location in London to visit relevant institutions, including the Houses of Parliament and the Museum of London suffragette archives, as well as exhibitions such as Disobedient Objects at the Victoria and Albert Museum (shown above). Students have access to both the newsroom and software training facilities on Harrow campus and classrooms in our central London campuses.

Online information session

 

Watch an online information session with course leader Michaela O’Brien, or email her at [email protected].

Fees and Funding

UK tuition fee: £950 (Price per 20-credit module)

When you have enrolled with us, your annual tuition fees will remain the same throughout your studies with us. We do not increase your tuition fees each 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 postgraduate students, which cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Find out if you qualify for one of our scholarships.

Additional costs 

See what you may need to pay for separately and what your tuition fees cover.

International tuition fee: £1,900 (Price per 20-credit module)

When you have enrolled with us, your annual tuition fees will remain the same throughout your studies with us. We do not increase your tuition fees each 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 postgraduate students, which cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Find out if you qualify for one of our scholarships.

Additional costs 

See what you may need to pay for separately and what your tuition fees cover.

Course Location

Our Media, Campaigning and Social Change course is part of Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design, based at our Harrow Campus. Teaching will take part at both our Harrow Campus and in central London, at our Cavendish Campus. You will benefit from the vibrant and specialist facilities at our Harrow Campus, as well as experiencing central London's dynamic commercial music industry.

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