Media, Culture and Communication with Integrated Foundation Year BA (Hons)

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This is a four-year version of our popular BA (Hons) Media, Culture and Communication course, with an integrated foundation year. Gain a unique insight into cultural theory, mass communication, films, TV Genres and more. Get skilled in critical analysis and build your independent judgement. Build a foundation to launch your career in the media.

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This course explores and explains the diverse patterns of media and offers a comprehensive understanding of media power, media use, and the increasing significance of media in contemporary culture and society.

In the first year – the foundation year – you will study 4 modules; a subject-related module, a numeracy skills module, a study skills-related module called 'Succeeding at University and Beyond' and a foundation project module. After completion of this foundation year, you will then move onto the Media, Culture and Communication honours degree course.

Engage with a mix of critical approaches: cultural studies, communication studies, film studies and media studies. You will also study a wide range of related topics including everyday life, popular culture, digital media cultures, cultural representation, gender and ethnic identities and sexualities.

Throughout your studies, you’ll be guided and supported by our experts. You’ll work with academics at the Centre of Research in Media and Cultural Studies, who are at the forefront of research in the field. You’ll study alongside scriptwriters, film makers, radio producers, and independent film producers. Many of the key books you will learn from have been written by the staff who teach you.

Gain a range of transferable skills including presentation skills, critical analysis, independent thinking, written and research skills, and the ability to work in groups and on your own. In your final year, you will put your skills and knowledge into practice in a major independent research project.

Why us?

  • Our Media and Film Studies courses are ranked 15th in the Guardian University League Tables 2018
  • 'World-leading' research in Communications, Cultural and Media Studies, according to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • 100% of our BA (Hons) Media, Culture and Communication graduates are in employment or further study within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2015/16 (based on UK students) 
  • Our support for independent learning is praised by our external examiners; you will work towards a major piece of independent research at Stage 3
  • With its emphasis on critical thinking, the degree provides an excellent basis for employment in a broad range of careers such as teaching, television, radio, journalism, marketing and new media
  • We are a University that is nationally recognised for supporting learners particularly from non-traditional backgrounds and many students come to us with no formal qualifications but with valuable work experience

Course structure

Teaching and assessment

Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, group work and e-learning. We encourage you to develop independent study skills.

As well as assessments that count towards your degree, there are also ongoing assessments for feedback and consolidating your learning. Assessment methods include essays, reports, written coursework, projects and presentations.

Foundation Year

The Media, Humanities and Creative Industries Integrated Foundation Year includes four modules: 

  • Foundations of Media, Humanities and Creative Industries (40 credits)
  • Practical Numeracy Skills (20 credits)
  • Foundation Project (20 credits)
  • Succeeding at University and Beyond (40 credits)


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 1 (national level 4):

  • Introduction to Media and Cultural Studies
  • Media Histories
  • Introduction to Digital Media Cultures
  • The Making of Popular Culture

Selected optional modules:

  • Celebrity Cultures  
  • Contemporary Cinema  
  • Introduction to Film Studies
  • Television Cultures
  • History of Cinema
  • Introduction to Screenwriting
  • Introduction to Television and Radio Broadcast
  • Media Production Skills
  • Introduction to Audio and Radio Production
  • Introduction to Social Media
  • Introduction to PR Theory and Practice 1
  • Media Photography
  • Online Sports Journalism

Year 2 (national level 5):

  • Media Studies 1
  • Cultural Theory and Popular Culture 1
  • Researching Media in Everyday Lives OR (at MDIS Singapore) Video Documentary Production
  • Academic Research Skills OR (at MDIS Singapore) Practical PR, Strategy and Theory

Selected optional modules:

  • Sexual Cultures
  • American Film and Society
  • British Cinema
  • Animated Film
  • Radio Production1
  • Scriptwriting
  • The Moving Camera
  • Newsroom
  • Digital Fictional Film 2
  • Practical PR, Strategy and Theory
  • Developing Your Media Career
  • Video Documentary Production

Availability of optional modules is subject to students having met any prerequisites.

Final year (national level 6):

  • Media Studies 2
  • Dissertation and Research Methods OR (at MDIS) Media Project

Selected optional modules:

  • Cultural Theory and Popular Culture 2
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Television
  • Popular Music Cultures
  • Film, Horror and the Body
  • Hitchcock
  • Film and Feeling: Music, Performance and Genre
  • Screenwriting for Television and Film 2
  • Radio Drama
  • Video Documentary Production
  • Media Project  
  • Advanced Public Relations  
  • Media Ethics

Availability of optional modules is subject to students having met any prerequisites.

The David Puttnam Media Centre,
Sir Tom Cowie Campus,
St Peter's Way,


  • Get hands-on in our two broadcast-quality production studios complete with green room and changing facilities.

    You’ll access four Steadicam rigs plus dolly, track and mini crane. Our field camera systems, comprises Blackmagic Ursa, Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro, Blackmagic 4K Production Camera and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, with associated location kits, lighting, field monitors and audio mixers.

    Film facilities
  • We’ve got thousands of relevant books and e-books, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

    Resources which will be particularly useful for Media Studies include:

    • Archival Sound Recordings with over 12,000 hours of recordings
    • British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC), which provides resources for the production, study and use of film and related media
    • Screen Online (BFI), which is an online encyclopaedia of British film and television, featuring clips from the vast collections of the BFI National Archive
    Library Services - media studies
  • We have four journalism suites, each with Apple Mac workstations with industry-standard software including NewsCutter, Burli and ENPS.

    Our MediaHUB, a bustling newsroom and home to a team of BBC Newcastle Journalists, is responsible for our suite of websites and provides a variety of experiences. Made in Tyne & Wear are just downstairs, offering placements to students and jobs to several of our graduates. 

    Learn in our 203 seat cinema with full HD projection and a 7.1 surround sound facility. Access two broadcast-quality production studios complete with green room and changing facilities and equipment such as Steadicam rigs, track and mini crane.

    Go on air in one of five radio studios, including a larger radio drama studio and a transmission suite for Spark FM our award winning student-run community radio station.

    Media facilities


The David Puttnam Media Centre is a thriving place to study and experience media. Rub shoulders with BBC Newcastle and Made in Tyne & Wear, who are both based in the building. Volunteer with award winning Spark Sunderland, write for one of our suite of websites or edit Spark Magazine in our MediaHUB. Get hands on in TV and Radio Studios, Journalism and Digital editing suites. Learn from experts in this centre of excellence for training.

Entry requirements

The Integrated Foundation Year is specially designed to support you where you have just missed the grades required for direct entry onto a three-year degree, or if you have relevant work experience and are now looking to broaden your subject knowledge but want more time to develop study skills before starting your degree.

Entry requirements are provided for guidance only and we may offer you an entrance interview which will help us determine your eligibility for your chosen degree. This enables us to consider making you an offer if you are perhaps a mature student who has been out of education for a period of time, or you have gained significant knowledge and skills through employment rather than traditional education.

Eligible entry qualifications:

1. Normally a minimum of three Level 2 qualifications (NVQ, GCSE or equivalent ), including Maths and English at grade C or above** and a minimum of 40 UCAS tariff points from Level 3 qualifications (e.g. A or AS Levels, BTEC certificates/diplomas, access courses or equivalent)
2. Demonstrable evidence of appropriate knowledge and skills acquired from at least three years of post-school work experience.

If you are unsure of whether you think you might be suitable for the course, please contact us!

** If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above. Equivalent alternative qualifications are also accepted, such as Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have not achieved a grade C in Maths and English we may be able to work with you to ensure that you are able to gain these in the first year of the course, depending on your experience.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

For more information about Integrated Foundation Year programmes, including more detailed module information, please see our Help and Advice articles.

Fees and finance

The Foundation Year will be £4,000. For the following three years, the annual fee will be £9,250, but you will receive £1,250 cash-back in the first and final year of the three years.

In addition, you will receive free travel across the Tyne and Wear region, and you may be eligible for means-tested scholarships if you are from a low-income household.

Register with StudyPLUS and enjoy up to £200 worth of books and university study essentials.

If you are a full-time UK student you will be eligible to receive financial support to cover your fee and maintenance loan for the full four years.

Please note, this course is not available to international students.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's by night


This degree provides an excellent foundation for a wide range of careers in the media. Examples of possible sectors include TV, radio, new media, journalism, marketing, PR, organisational communications, and advertising.

Career destinations

Recent graduates from Sunderland have gained jobs with employers such as BBC (including Radio 1), Channel 4, Sky TV, MTV, The Guardian, I Daniel Blake, regional newspapers, PR companies and the public sector.

You could choose to continue your studies on one of our Masters degrees such as MA Film and Cultural Studies, MA Radio or MA Public Relations.  

Work placements

We actively encourage students to gain relevant work experience while at university. In every year of your course, you will be guided and encouraged to gain meaningful experience that will fit around your studies.

In Year 2, there is a work placement opportunity with a media organisation such as the BBC, Tyne Tees Television or one of the region’s production companies. You can also choose to undertake a number of practice modules that involve practical projects.

All students studying on-campus undergraduate media courses can take up a CV-enhancing work placement, a University-led industry initiative, or a professional and business development boot camp. By the term placement, we mean we are offering you a taste of the industry which might last anything from two days to four weeks on a part-time basis.

Practical experience 

Many students get involved in Spark Sunderland, a community radio station based at the University. Students are responsible for all news-gathering, programme production and advertising. Spark has won many awards including four golds at the Student Radio Awards 2012, and holds the Nations and Regions Award for Best Radio Station in the North East.

Work alongside BBC Newcastle Journalists in our mediaHUB, home to student-run websites covering sport, news, entertainment, fashion and Spark online magazine.

Sunderland's daily newspaper, The Sunderland Echo, has a weekly page called 'On Campus' that is written entirely by students at the University. It’s an opportunity to find and research your own stories, take photographs, meet deadlines and see your name in print.

Throughout the course, we invite guest speakers to run workshops and master classes that allow you to relate your learning to real-life opportunities.

Meet our academics