Full time 12 Month(s), Part time 24 Month(s)
Communication and Media Studies at Lancaster is ranked first in The Times and the Sunday Times Good University Guide Subject Rankings, 2016. This degree provides students with the theoretical and methodological grounding they need to carry out independent research in media and cultural studies.
The course introduces you to the key texts, debates and thinkers in media and cultural studies, ranging from the work of classical cultural theorists through to contemporary writing on new media, globalised culture, science and technology studies, and queer theory.
You will be encouraged to reflect critically on the role of popular media in structuring our everyday lives. The course examines the role of media in reproducing, disseminating and challenging hegemonic power relations, as well as thinking through the ways in which gender, sexuality and ‘race’ are constructed in global media cultures.
This is not a vocational or practice-based degree. However, it is a degree that will teach you skills in critical thinking, independent research, and analysis highly relevant for development and innovation in the cultural and media sectors.
You will study a range of modules as part of your course, some examples of which are listed below.
This module is designed to introduce you to contemporary methodological issues, key approaches, practical techniques, and case examples relating to the study of media and culture.
Many different methods are used in media and cultural studies, and that variety is reflected in this module. To explore research practice in this discipline, we look at textual and discourse analysis, visual analysis, ethnography and participatory approaches, but place a strong emphasis on engaging with issues of identity, differences, power and experience in the hyper-complex media and cultural environments that we live in.
To give you a taste of particular research methods and approaches, we draw on recent examples of media and cultural research done here at Lancaster, and encourage you to explore their theoretical and practical implications.
In conversation with invited guest researchers, you will also be able to discuss and critically evaluate different methodological approaches and learn how to draw on these approaches as a starting point for your own research. This helps to ensure that you acquire a good understanding of the key elements in planning and carrying out independent research projects.
This module introduces approaches to critical analysis of key forms of contemporary media and culture such as commodities, celebrities, platforms and different media forms and environments.
We will read and discuss recent and formative writings in cultural and media studies, allowing you to develop an understanding of key concepts such as subjectivity, platform, materiality, commodity, difference, value and power, and how they help us make sense of contemporary social life. You will also engage with analytical work on specific media platforms, products and practices, ranging from photographs and search engines to newspapers and reality TV.
Among the topics that we will explore are:
concepts of culture in relation to images, commodities and brands
popular culture, audiences and media practices associated with celebrity
contemporary digital media cultures, and their circulation and consumption
embodiment, differences, politics and identities amidst media change
As the final element in your Masters programme, the MA dissertation allows you to bring together and showcase the skills and knowledge you have acquired from other modules, and demonstrate your ability to carry out a substantial independent research project.
Provided a suitable supervisor is available, you can choose your own topic to investigate. Once you have chosen your topic, the Department will provide a supervisor that best matches your research interests. You will be assessed on your capacity to define your research topic, to articulate a coherent scheme for examining that topic, to gather the necessary information, and to analyse and present the information in a way which does justice to the topic you have chosen.
As preparation for your dissertation you will take part in five MA learning skills workshops, although this element of the module is not formally assessed. These sessions are designed to help you develop your skills in reading, reviewing and writing, and in presenting your work in an environment which offers both support and constructive criticism.
This module approaches the culture of digital infrastructures through a variety of different angles including the media industries, community media, open standards and hacktivism in a digital era. While the overall focus of the module is on the digital, you will also be encouraged to think about ways in which analogue practices have been shaping the digital practices, and technologies, that are central in this module.
This independent research project gives you the opportunity to relate knowledge and techniques acquired from other Gender and Women's Studies modules to a research problem of your own choosing. The research can be library based or could involve other sorts of data collection (e.g. interviews, surveys, participant observation, analysis of cultural artefacts). The project could also include co-operation with an outside organisation.
This module focuses on crucial feminist interventions in cultural production and cultural studies and introduces you to contemporary debates in feminist theory. It looks at specific forms of activism, engagement and resistance that have identified hierarchies and challenged the ways in which these produce gendered, sexual, ethnic and racial identities and oppression.
We will examine a range of sources from popular culture, media, art, public culture and policy, enabling us to bring feminist cultural theory into dialogue with a range of media and other cultural productions and practices.
The particular focus and format of the module may change each year, allowing us to link to topical debates or events taking place in the wider community. Recently, for example, the module was run as a week-long summer school on Feminist Activism and involved film screenings, lectures, group work and discussions. It ran in parallel with a Manchester University Summer School on “Queer Arts as Activism”, and included a field trip to Manchester.
This module introduces you to the practicalities and philosophies of doing interdisciplinary research in gender and women’s studies. You will learn to interpret, understand and explore the consequences of particular research methods and will be encouraged to consider the relationship between theories and methods in research.
The module also provides scope for reflecting on the politics of knowledge, the ethics of research, and the relationship between disciplines and interdisciplinary fields such as gender and women’s studies. You will learn how some key conceptual frameworks within feminism (for example, sex and gender, body politics, sexual difference, queer) have been constructed over time through both research practices and theoretical arguments.
This module will be useful as preparation for your own research later in the programme and particularly for your Masters dissertation.
How are gender, sex and bodies understood in contemporary sociology and feminist theory? How do feminist theorists and social scientists address questions of difference, representation and performativity in their research? What kinds of methods are used to research sex, gender and bodies?
In this module we engage in depth with the work of particular theorists (enabling you to acquire skills in close reading) and we explore current issues of importance to feminism. These include girlhood and sexualisation, gender and work, race and racism, and sex and sexuality.
The essays you write then give you scope to follow your own interests in more depth by using the reading lists provided and undertaking independent research.
The focus of this module is on helping you to think critically about gender-based violence – what causes it, and under what circumstances there is more or less of it.
We look at what counts as gender-based violence in social and gender theory as well as in empirical and policy studies. This will require you to engage critically with alternative ways of theorising and analysing the interconnections between gender and violence, and to consider what implications these could have for practice.
We will also investigate the links between gendered violence and the economy, governance and policy, civil society and other forms of violence.
In this module we consider a major theme in classical and contemporary sociology – capitalism and its crisis tendencies.
Topics for debate will include:
the nature of capitalism, its phases, varieties, and global articulation
whether capitalism is inherently prone to crisis, and what forms of crisis are characteristic of capitalism
the nature of the contemporary crisis in capitalism, its periodisation and temporalities, differences in its dynamics across so-called varieties of capitalism, and its broader economic, political, and socio-cultural repercussions
the question of whether capitalism is governable, crisis management, and crises of crisis management
Current debates over issues such as genetically modified crops, nuclear power, shale gas, loss of biodiversity or climate justice – and the protest movements and campaigns that have arisen in response – provide tangible evidence that the relationship between society and the environment is a difficult and often controversial one.
This module examines the role that sociology and social theory can play in helping us to understand that relationship better, and explores the range of approaches that have been developed in environmental sociology.
Studying the environment sociologically opens up a host of interconnected social, cultural and political issues. Whose knowledge counts? How can we handle unquantifiable risk? What role should technology play? And what about democracy, freedom, diversity and justice?
Using lectures and seminar discussion, the module will lead you through the resources of sociology and social theory to enable you to think through these questions in relation to some of the most urgent environmental issues facing societies today. For example, what might ‘liveable cities’ look like in the future? Do biotechnologies provide solutions to world hunger, or not? How can governments make democratic decisions about the disposal of nuclear waste?
This module explores the social, ethical and political implications of science and technology, introducing you to the main theoretical and methodological approaches associated with science and technology studies (STS) and to the debates between them.
On this module you will acquire a thorough grounding in the history of STS through review and discussion of seminal texts and you will also be introduced to current approaches, using a varied mix of workshops, contemporary case studies, film screenings and two laboratory visits.
This enables us to explore how different theoretical approaches may be applied, and helps to build your understanding of how different approaches to analysis imply particular political and epistemological assumptions. You will also develop the capacity to criticise different approaches to STS, and gain the initial knowledge needed to develop and justify your own approaches.
Lancaster is home to the internationally recognised Centre for Science Studies and is a centre of excellence for STS research. On this module you will meet some of the key researchers in the field.
This module examines the ways in which different social theoretical perspectives approach their objects. It focuses on three main topics: an investigation of the nature of the object of social theory, that is, the social; key issues in contemporary social theory; and the relationship between social theory, modernity and postmodernity.
In this module you will look at the possible long-term effects of information and communications technology (ICT) on human society.
You will do this by critically exploring the beliefs and claims of different ‘cybercultures’ – social and cultural movements, each of which promotes a particular vision of the future premised on the radically transformative potential of ICT.
You will explore a range of ‘cultural imaginaries’as manifested in popular culture, civil society, professional groups and scholarly writing. In these imaginaries, the development and spread of digital and networked technologies are seen as having revolutionary implications for social identities, political life and economic relations – or even for the essence or viability of human beings themselves.
These imaginaries involve narratives that range from the utopian to the apocalyptic – from cybercommunist and cyberfeminist visions of rejuvenated progressive politics to a postpolitical world run by algorithmic capitalism, or from transhumanist visions of digital immortality to dire warnings of machine super-intelligence replacing humanity.
Through lectures, seminar discussions, film screenings and debates, and drawing on sociology, media and cultural studies, science studies, philosophy and science fiction, you will learn about some of the most high-stakes questions about the future of society.
This module provides you with first-hand experience of organising and undertaking a group research project on a subject of your own choosing. You will work through processes of research design and strategy, developing research questions, planning and carrying out fieldwork and analysis, and presenting and evaluating research.
Working together in groups of four or five, you will produce a high-quality project report which could take various forms – for example, an article for publication, a multimedia website, or a report suitable for presentation to a funding body. You also make an oral presentation of your work.
Although the module is essentially practical, it also provides the opportunity for you to examine generic issues involved in doing social research and to learn about the contemporary context of research policy and funding.
This module offers you the chance to engage with the work of some key social theorists influencing sociology today – particularly their views, implicit or explicit, on the role and nature of critique and values in social science, how they theorise our social nature, and power in social life.
We will address a number of major questions – for example, are so-called ‘critical’ approaches compatible with the idea of sociology as a social science? On what grounds can we develop critiques of society? If we are products of our social circumstances, what room, if any, does that leave for individual responsibility? How can we best theorise power? What can sociology tell us about neoliberalism?
Through examining such questions we aim to help you form your own judgement of how adequate these sociological theories are, and how they might usefully inform research. Sub-themes of the module include universalism, discourse, structure and agency.
This module is designed to familiarise you with various ways of thinking about and analysing contemporary relations between science, technology and society. It draws upon a rich vein of theory and practice within science and technology studies (STS), an area of research that is particularly strong at Lancaster University.
You will be encouraged to ask sociologically informed questions about the sciences and technologies that have become part of our everyday lives – including, for example, mobile phones, social media, cloud computing, genetic modification, human fertilisation techniques, air conditioning and technologies for electricity generation.
The module helps you to understand how different interpretive research methodologies used in STS – such as ethnography and participant observation, surveys, and analysis of social media – enable a researcher to ask important critical questions about science, technology, the environment and society.
Through case studies chosen by students on the module you will consider how we might engage as analysts – using which methods and practices? In what kinds of role? With what kind of limitations? And with what kinds of responsibility and accountability?
This module reflects the mobilities turn within the social sciences, a turn pioneered at Lancaster’s Centre for Mobilities Research, which is recognised worldwide as a key centre for mobilities research.
Social institutions and social practices rest upon multiple mobilities – of people, objects, messages and ideas – and the complex interconnections between them.
This module explores how various types of mobility are fundamental to society. It shows that examining these many different mobilities, fluid and fleeting as they often are, is crucial to social science inquiry, explanation and critique. It provides key conceptual and methodological resources that will help you to understand changes in past, present and future patterns of mobility and what fateful implications they can have for people’s lives and experiences.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research.
Undergraduate Degree: 2:1 (Hons) degree (UK or equivalent) in a relevant social science
If you have studied outside of the UK, you can check your qualifications here: International Qualifications
English Language: IELTS - Overall score of at least 7.0, with no individual element below 6.0
We consider tests from other providers, which can be found here: English language requirements
If your score is below our requirements we may consider you for one of our pre-sessional English language programmes
Pre-sessional English language programmes available:
4 Week Overall score of at least 6.5, with no individual element below 6.0
10 Week Overall score of at least 6.0, with no individual element below 5.5
Longer courses are not an option for this programme
Funding: All applicants should consult our information on Fees and Funding; Faculty Scholarships and Funding; Sociology Fees and Funding
Further information: For more information about the department please visit our webpages http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/sociology/
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