module specification

MC6001 - Communication Theory and Concepts (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Communication Theory and Concepts
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
210 hours Guided independent study
9 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 0%   PISO initiative Reflective learning (PISO II) Formative Assessment 200 words
Coursework 30%   Individual Communication Research Report 3,000 words
Group Presentation 30%   Group Presentation & plan 15 minutes
Seen Examination 40%   Seen Exam 2 hours
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

The module will consider what is meant by “communication” and why a study of the subject is especially important for communication professionals.  A range of methods for evaluating communication will be discussed together with the theories of the main authorities in the field.
Current affairs will be a key feature in the module to illustrate the application of various theories and concepts.
The aim of the module is to engage students in critical and evaluative considerations using key theories, concepts; this will be through consideration and engaging with the language and discourse related to the subject area. The module will discuss the key theories, concepts, and approaches within the field of communication. Students will be introduced to the problems inherent in defining communication, and the different approaches to the topic.  Students will also develop further the practical communication skills addressed in earlier modules.

The module content is broken in to three distinct sections throughout the year
1) Communication models & Measurements 
2) Codes signs and public communication
3) News propaganda and the public sphere 

The module aims to assist in the building of the following specific skills:
• Critical Thinking and Writing
• Academic Reading  & Academic writing and literacy
• Researching
• Analysing data & problem solving
• Commercial Awareness
• Interpersonal, including collaborating / working with others, cross cultural awareness, having a positive attitude, negotiation and persuasion
• Communicating/presenting – orally and in writing, including inter-cultural communication


Communication Models & researching communications
Overview  and introduction to theoretical perceptive on the study of communication- critical theory propaganda ideology, Structuralism and semiotics, post modernism, anthropology and cultural studies, learning theories, Information processing, Psyche  linguistics, Psyche- dynamic theory
Communication, Information transmission, meaning

Communication Models – Application &  criticism Shannon & weaver, Laswell Model, Newcomb’s model, Gerbner - Westly & Maclean Jacobson model

Researching communication Media & audience
Researching audiences – Positivist, interpretive approaches, quantitative, qualitative BARB, Raja radio audience measurements audience ratings. Critical issues in shifts in media consumption and channels and measurements

Researching communication Analysing media content.  Content Analysis –Rationale measuring  own output, To measure the output of others and in  In order to comply with regulatory requirements objective, measurable, verifiable of content analysis Reliability testing, Coding Scheme, inferences and sample size LO1


Codes, Signs and Public Communications
Cultural analysis – Ideological Process -myth, Doxa & Hegemony, Ideology & media representation -stereotyping , assimilation, othering,  Exoticism

Rhetorical analysis – Uses of semiotics critical & Practical .Theories of the sign and meaning Semiotics and Organisational Communications, Codes and conventions, Systems of difference, Symbolic sign Icon, Index, Symbol Indexical Sign Applying semiotics- denotation, connation signifiers, signified

Public communications- Campaign domains. Social marketing, Communication-persuasion matrix, Social control Effectiveness of Social Norms marketing, Advocacy of campaigns  critical perspectives -Theories used in social Marketing, Health Belief Model (HBM), The Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) Social Cognitive Theory (SCT LO2


News & Propaganda
News sources & changing dynamics –Sources & Motives Control - Regions and Closures, Source Control - news as purposive behaviour, credibility & trust , False news, democratisation of news & the web PR & motives.

News management techniques – Absorption, News encounter critical perspectives on news values McDougall taxonomy News worthiness Gultung and Rudge 1970 news values , Alternative measures the role of social media in news values

Propaganda and persuasion-propaganda forms White propaganda Black propaganda Context of propaganda Atrocity propaganda war and propaganda Chomsky and Hermans Propaganda model

Media function  public broadcasting- The role and purpose of media   Propaganda, Commercial laissez-faire models, power model, Media convergence, debates re press regulation

The public sphere- The Media and the Public Sphere Circulation of information and opinion, Truth Negative and public reason, Press as a check on state power, Habermann & public sphere, Negative assessment of mass media & public opinion public, opinion polls and pollster

Media Ethics –Challenges and ethical considerations for communications & professionalism.   Critical approaches to ethics including situational ethics, virtue ethics, discourse ethics, utilitarianism. Professional codes of practice LO3


Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

The module will be delivered using a combination of one and half lectures & seminars sessions. Where possible, guest speakers will be invited from sectors of the communication industry. Seminars will be one an half hours. Videos and online case studies will frequently be used to stimulate discussion in seminars.  In the main, seminars will be student-led, and a problem-based approach will be adopted. A routine of daily media monitoring will be encouraged for the study of examples of mass communication, and to facilitate analytical and evaluative skills.
Web learn will be used for the dissemination of learning materials, for assessment briefs, and for regular updates by the tutor.  Students will be provided with both formative and summative feedback in the lecture and seminars and during tutor’s feedback and advice hours. 

As part of the PISO initiative, Reflective learning (PISO II) is incorporated into the module. Students are advised to keep a journal of experiences and personal development to analyse and reflect on the effectiveness of their learning. This is facilitated in the first formative assessment in week 4 and feedback in week 5. This will assist students in the subsequent assessment in week 8

For the Individual & assessments, students will be given an opportunity and be required to show draft work/progress to their tutors for comments and feedback during seminars 2 weeks prior to the deadline.  Generic feedback will also be provided in class, seminars one week post submission. Students will receive written feedback and grades within 14 working days of submission.  For the group presentation students will be provided with immediate oral feedback.  Formal feedback & grades will be made available to students in the seminars 14 working days post submission and or via web learn.
Weekly drop-in surgeries will be provided on campus by the tutor in office hours. Exam preparation  and revision will take place two weeks before the academic exam period

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit the students will be able to:

1. Be proficient in planning and carry out communication research  and evaluate findings LO1
2. Demonstrate the ability to  critically an synthesis theory and practice in the organisation of organisational communication plans LO2
3. Critically  appraise and evaluate academic perspectives  in the context of  News, propaganda public sphere and ethical considerations LO3

Assessment strategy

Assessment 1  Content Analysis Research Report  3,000 words
In week, 2 students will be given a small formative task related to assessment 1 and to submit work in week 4. Students will then be required to reflect on their learning. This has been designed to assist in assessment 1. Additional students will be provided with the opportunity to produce drafts in weeks 6 & 7 seminar period for formative feedback on their content analysis report. The assessment have been designed to develop and assess analysing data & problem solving skills.The feedback should assist students in addressing their individual content analysis research report  which will be due in Week 8 LO1 
Assessment 2 Group Presentation 15 minutes
Students will be given an opportunity to develop a public communications plan
For the presentation, students will be given an opportunity to work on the presentation in the seminar period   in order to gain formative feedback on the work in progress, and will be required to show draft work/progress presentation reports to their tutors for comments during seminars in week 16, 17.  Due in week 18. More Generic oral feedback will be provided post presentation on the day of the presentation in the class, seminars. The assessment draws on the development of  interpersonal, including collaborating / working with others, cross cultural awareness, having a positive attitude, negotiation and persuasion in communicating/presenting – orally and in writing.
Students will receive written feedback and grades within 14 working days of submission.LO2
Assessment 4 Exam
The exam seeks to test  students  ability to crucially appraise and evaluate academic perspectives on  news and propaganda and the role of the public sphere & ethics in communication LO3

The module is a pass on aggregate on all assessment of the module


This module has no core book due to the nature of the topics covered. However reading will be taken from the chapters readily available via the library resources and chapters will be made available on web learn. Core weekly reading will be supplied at the beginning of teaching

Essential reading

Bainbridge J.  Goc N., and Tynan E. (2015) Media and Journalism 3e:New
Approaches to Theory and Practice oxford Press Third Edition
Berger A. (2016 ) Media and Communication Research Methods An Introduction to Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches Fourth Edition Sage
Bignell J (2002)Signs & media  Manchester university press
Christians C ,  Fackler M. , Richardson K , Kreshel P. Woods H. (2017) Media Ethics Cases and Moral Reasoning, 10th Edition Routledge Taylor Francis
Coleman, S., Ross, K., 2010. The Media and The Public: “Them” and “Us” in Media Discourse, First ed. Wiley-Blackwell.
Daymon C. & Holloway I. (2011) Qualitative research methods in public relations and marketing communications, London: Routledge
Edwards L and Hodges C. (2011) Public Relations, Society and Culture: Theoretical and Empirical Explorations, London: Routledge
Fiske, J. (2011). Introduction to Communication Studies   (3rd ed.). Routledge.
Gass R. & Seiter J. (2011) Persuasion social influence and compliance gaining Pearsons
Habermas, J., (1979) ‘The public sphere’ in A. Mattelart & S. Siegelaub, eds., Communication and Class Struggle pp.198-201
Hansen R. (2016) Mass Communication: Living in a Media World Sage Publications
Jones P. Holmes D. (2012) Key Concepts in Media and Communications Sage Publications
Jowett G. O’Donnell( 2006) Readings in Propaganda and Persuasion New and Classic Essays Sage Publications
Krippendorff K. (2013) Content analysis: an introduction to its methodology. 3rd ed. Los Angeles  London: Sage
Manning, P., 2001. News and news sources: a critical introduction. Sage, London
Moloney, K., 2006. Rethinking public relations: PR propaganda and democracy, 2nd ed. ed. Routledge, London.
McQuay D and Windahl S (1993) (2nd Ed) Communications Models for the study of Mass Communications, London: Longman.
Mc Quail D. (2010) McQuail's Mass Communication Theory 6th Edition Sage publications
O’Shaughnessy, N.J., 2004. Politics and propaganda: weapons of mass seduction. Manchester University Press, Manchester.
O'Shaughnessy M., Stadler J., Casey S. (2016) Media & Society 6th Edition
Oxford University Press
Palmer, J., 2000. Spinning into control: news values and source strategies, Studies in communication and society. Leicester University Press, London
Parsons P. (2016) Ethics in Public Relations A Guide to Best Practice Kogan page
Rice RE and Atkin CK (eds) (2013) Public communication campaigns. 4th ed. Los Angeles  London: Sage publications
Stevenson N. (2014) Understanding Media Cultures Social Theory and Mass Communication, Second Edition London: Sage Publications.
Severin W. Tankard J. (2014) Communication Theories origins methods and uses in mass media  6th Edition Pearsons 
Windahl, S., Signitzer, B., & Olson, J. T. (2008). Using Communication Theory: An Introduction to Planned Communication (Second   ed.). Sage Publications Ltd.
Ott B. Mack (2014) Critical Media studies Wiley Blackwell
Watson J. (2016) Media Communication : an Introduction to Theory and Process  4th Edition Palgrave Macmillan
Windhal S.( 2009) Using communication theory Sage publications 

Academic Journals
Mass communication & society
Media Culture & Society
Journalism Quarterly
Journalism Studies
Journalism Practice
Public Relations Quarterly
Public Relations Review
Public Relations Research
Journal of Public Affairs
International Journal of Communication
Journal of Mass Media Ethics
Journal of Communication Management
Journalism Studies
Journalism Practice
Journal of Advertising
Journal of Advertising Research
European Journal of Communication
Journal Marking Communications
Current & daily Newspapers

Electronic Databases:
Library-Lexis  News data base