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Course starts: 18 September 2023Apply now
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.
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.
In the first year – the foundation year – you will study five modules: a module about the foundations of humanities, journalism and media theory, an essential study skills module, a foundation project module, practical numeracy skills, and a multimedia communications module or a new century module depending on your degree choice. After completion of this foundation year, you will then move onto the Media, Culture and Communications honours degree course.
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.
The English, Journalism and Media Integrated Foundation Year includes five modules:
Depending on the degree you wish to study after the Foundation Year, you will also take one of the following modules:
Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.
Introduction to Digital Media Cultures (20 credits)
Trace the evolution of digital media and its associated cultural phenomena by charting the emergence of the personal computer and the nascent internet as crucial forces in shaping contemporary communication practices. Investigate key debates and contribute to analyses of emergent behaviours and practices that take place within and across digital media and social media environments.
The Making of Popular Culture (20 credits)
Explore the historical development in the nineteenth century of modern urban popular culture, including the development of the culture industries of stage melodrama, Christmas, music hall, the seaside holiday, pastimes and the selling of sensationist crime. Examine the transition from rural to urban culture and the institutionalisation of the distinction between elite and popular culture and the development of popular literature and genres. Engage with a number of relevant case studies, both in class and as part of organised field trips to appropriate venues and locations.
Understanding Media and Culture (20 credits)
Develop a critical understanding of the role and importance of media and culture in contemporary life. Gain knowledge of the historical development of the modern media landscape and culture industries and develop analytical and evaluative skills through examining media texts and cultural practices. Finish the module with skills of analysis, academic argument and understanding the operations of power.
Sounds and Visions: Broadcasting Histories, Texts and Contexts (20 credits)
Trace the evolution of broadcasting from its technological beginnings in the nineteenth century through its institutional birth in 1922. Explore significant historical, regulatory and institutional developments in relation to radio and television. Look at various broadcasting contexts, from the creation of public service models of broadcasting through to the arrival of commercial competitors, and at the relationship between various mediums and platforms and their respective audiences.
Gain an introduction to the procedures and techniques of single camera video production. Learn the technical practices and creative skills required to produce a video. Originate, develop, script, shoot and edit a production of three minutes in length, working in a production crew.
Gain an introduction to the theory and practice of public relations, enabling you to position PR within a business context. Trace the emergence and development of PR through analysis of case studies and theoretical models. Develop key skills in planning, strategy, team working, news release writing and communication skills across a range of media.
Learn role of the journalist and the range of practical skills needed to produce news, magazine and sports content, including research, newsgathering, interviewing, copy presentation and writing style.
Examine different theoretical approaches and traditions involved in the study of popular culture and the analysis of texts and practices of popular culture. Learn about the most influential approaches to the study of popular culture including Marxism(s), psychoanalysis, postmodernism, and feminism, using relevant examples such as popular music, advertising, film, television, and consumption (shopping, football and fan culture).
Thinking Outside The Box: TV, Past, Present and Future (20 credits)
Gain an introduction to critical approaches to television studies. Focus on close textual analysis of television fiction and non-fiction programming, alongside discussion of industrial context and key theoretical debates. Study areas such as British and US industrial contexts; concepts of representation, ideology and globalisation; issues of genre (which may include case studies such as sitcom, soap and comedy); convergence; transmedia storytelling, content streaming, the place of the audience and the value of critical models such as authorship and quality, alongside central issues such as flow and public service broadcasting. Consider the cultural impact of television and evolving modes of consumption.
Interrogating Factual Media (20 credits)
Develop a critical understanding of the role and importance of fact-based media output across multiple platforms, from broadcast content to diverse internet-based publishers. Gain analytical and evaluative skills through analyses of media discourses impacting upon public knowledge and the effective functioning of democracy while exploring a range of relevant contemporary topics and theories. Complete the module with a robust understanding of the interplay between the construction of media messaging, their communicative value and effectiveness, and the public’s response.
Researching Media in Theory and Practice (20 credits)
Develop a critical understanding of the history and growth of media research and the importance of continuing to examine media use in contemporary life in the midst of rapid technological change. Gain knowledge of media research and ‘hands-on’ research skills through detailed case studies of past research into media use and a practical research project of your own or a placement should you wish to arrange one. Complete the module with a firm grasp of the complex relationships between ordinary media use and the formation of identities, beliefs and practices and gain useful, practical research and problem-solving skills.
Build on the theoretical and practical foundation you developed in your first year to learn the key elements in the process of creating a PR strategy for a real-world client or employing organisation. Engage with a critical review of PR planning models and gain an understanding of the importance of research and the study of a variety of case studies. Learn about the importance of ethical codes that aim to guide practitioners in the minefield of modern-day PR practice.
Explore the key ideas behind the medium of podcasting and develop the practical and professional skills needed to produce your own podcast series.
Ready Player One: Operating within the Streaming Industry (20 credits)
Develop both a practical and critical understanding of one of the fastest growing media sectors in the 21st century: the livestreaming economy. Research the live streaming economy and create content for a unique product through a variety of pre-recorded and live stream videos. Complete the module with an understanding of the importance of the relationships between content creator and intended audience, effective branding and planning, as well as a critical awareness of ethical practices and broadcast regulations.
Undertake a piece of independent-led work, the content of which will vary from student to student and will be based on theoretical or empirical approaches, or a combination of these. Complete the module with a specialist understanding of your chosen area of research.
Develop a critical understanding of the industrial links between Advertising and Branding and Quality Television Drama (and many other types of media) in terms of their historical development and production. Gain analytical and evaluative skills by examining the current issues and debates about the impact of media on society. Finish the module with a robust knowledge of the intertwined concerns of creating content, creating profit and the necessity for analysis of media output and industrial systems to maintain a healthy, democratic society.
Develop your own research project based on interest of a cultural text, practice or body of theoretical work. Undertake self-directed research, develop, and produce a piece of independent written work.
Learn about the economic value of corporate reputation and goodwill along with the implications for corporate responsibility and community relations. Continue to develop your practical skills in a wide range of PR techniques, including speechwriting and acting as a spokesperson.
Film, Horror and the Body (20 credits)
Chart the emergence of body horror cinema in the late 20th century before proceeding to explore different historical and contemporary examples across a range of international contexts. Consider other filmic forms that feature the body undergoing changes that may be horrific or challenging but yet may not be considered to adhere to the horror genre. Employ ideas from both film studies and cultural studies and address questions of bodily fascination, from puberty and issues related to sexual desire through to explorations of bodily disgust and repulsion.
Popular Music Cultures (20 credits)
Chart the historical evolution of key popular musical genres and the cultures they both reflect and sustain. Focus primarily upon two of the largest markets that produced and shaped mainstream popular music since the 1950s, namely the US and the UK, but the success and impact of musicians from outside of these regions will also form the basis of analysis. Cover topics spanning multiple genres including rock, reggae, punk, rap, and dance music and explore the socio-political dimensions of the music. Produce two feature articles for an online music publication as part of your assessment alongside an end of module essay.
Examine the historical roots of the science fiction, horror and fantasy genres, from its literary origins, through to its subsequent appearance on radio, film and more specifically television. Explore several key theoretical approaches to the study of the genre, including fan cultures, representation and dystopian/utopian futures. Cover a chronological overview of the genres, from the 1950s to the present day, exploring British and American science fiction and fantasy television.
We don’t currently display entry requirements for United States. Please contact the Student Admin team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0191 515 3154.
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, T 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.
The annual fee for this course is £9,250 if you are from the UK/Ireland/EU settled/pre-settled.
If you are a full-time UK/Irish/EU settled/EU pre-settled student you may be eligible to receive financial support to cover your fees for the full four years. UK and EU settled students may also be eligible to receive a maintenance loan.
Please note, this course is not available to international students.
Learn more about settled status, pre-settled status, special discounts, visa requirements and Common Travel Area (CTA) agreements for the Republic of Ireland applicants 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.
This information was correct at the time of publication.
This degree provides an excellent foundation for a wide range of careers in the media. Possible sectors include TV, radio, new media, journalism, marketing, PR, organisational communications, and advertising.
Our students have gained placements or graduate roles with employers such as BBC Radio 1, Capital FM, Channel 4, Heart FM, Metro Radio, Sky TV, BBC Sport, MTV, ITV Studios (Coronation Street), Talk Sport, The Guardian, Jamie Oliver Productions, Lime Pictures, Absolute Radio, BBC Radio 6 Music, I Daniel Blake, BBC World Service, regional newspapers and PR companies.
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.
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.
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