module specification

SM4013 - Media Histories (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Media Histories
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
192 hours Guided independent study
108 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Summative assignment (500 words)
Group Presentation 30%   10 minute individual presentation
Coursework 50%   Essay (1200 words)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Tuesday Morning

Module summary

The module provides an introduction to media history and some of the key arguments and research areas in the field. Both history and theory are approached through contemporary issues and debates and the relationship of each to theoretical, social, cultural and economic contexts is emphasised. Discussion of theory addresses the problems posed by different intellectual traditions and places them in their appropriate critical contexts, while a historical perspective enables the technologies of the mass and new social media to be understood in relation to wider social developments.

Module aims

• To provide an introduction to the study of media and its various rationales and methodologies.
• To promote a critical understanding of the history, content and structures of the media industries and examine the social, political and economic factors which shape them – and their products.
• To develop an understanding of the development of debates and theoretical contexts related to the media and media technologies.
• To develop and encourage confidence in the use of appropriate learning, analytical and discursive skills in both oral and written argument. To help students acquire key bibliographic research skills.


The module examines the rise of different forms of media in a wider social context and, in parallel, the history of theoretical approaches, many of them formulated in response to the concerns of public opinion and politicians. Each history lecture provides an introduction to different media forms and institutions, from book to the press, broadcasting, cinema, advertising and news agencies and the rise of the internet and online publication. The theory lectures, often linked directly to the historical moments treated in the history lectures, cover ownership (political economy), audience studies, identity (gender, sexuality, race and national identity) and the interrelationship between technology and globalisation.

Learning and teaching

Teaching methods include formal lectures, seminar discussion, screenings, library sessions on research methods and tutorials.  Students are expected to attend lectures and seminars: in the seminars they will at times work in small groups and be given practice in listening to each other’s contributions and offering constructive criticism, and in chairing and reporting discussion to the plenary seminar group. The module booklet will be available online, as will lecture outlines and some readings. Weblearn or its equivalent will also be used for communication with students individually and as a cohort. In addition to guided reading, students are expected to read and to use variety of sources (primary and secondary) and use seminars and tutorials to raise issues, questions and seek feedback.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
1. Describe the historical origins of contemporary media systems
2. Give examples of theoretical approaches to mass media and mediated culture and apply them to some of the recent developments in Communication
3. Identify a variety of relevant sources
4. Summarise and analyse researched data and the arguments of sources
5.Develop the capacity to engage co-operatively in a group using discursive skills to produce a common presentation

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy builds towards an essay which assesses the ability to engage with a critical understanding of media history and theory. 

1. A 500 word summative exercise building on formative assessment to enable an early opportunity for assessment (this does not map onto the learning outcomes as it relates to learning across the entire programme. This isn’t ideal but is the way the university has mandated it should happen).  
2. A 10 minute individual presentation will enable students to develop their thinking around specific aspects of media history and media theory in preparation for the final essay (LO 1-5)
3. A 1200 word essay is a summative exercise encouraging students to develop their academic skills (LO 1-5).


Albertazzi, D , A. & Cobley, P. (2010). The Media: An Introduction. London: Pearson Publishing.
Briggs, A. & Burke, P. (2010) A Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet. 3rd Ed. Polity Press.
Crisell, A. (2002) An Introductory History of British Broadcasting, 2nd Ed. London: Routledge
Curran, J. & Gurevitch, M.(eds) (2005) Mass Media and Society. 4th Ed London: Edward Arnold.
Curran, J. & Seaton, J. (2010) Power Without Responsibility. London: Routledge.
Feather, J. (1996) A History of British Publishing. London: Routledge.
Febvre, L. & Martin, H. (1976) The Coming of the Book. London: Verso
Hesmondhalgh, D. (ed) Media Production. London: Sage/Open University Press
Marris & S. Thornham (eds.) (2009).Medi.a studies: A reader. 3rd Ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
Seymour-Ure, C. (1996) The British Press and Broadcasting Since 1945. Blackwell.
Stevenson, N. (1995) Understanding Media Cultures. London: Sage  
Thompson, J.B. (1995) The Media and Modernity. Cambridge: Polity.
Tunstall, J. (1996) Newspaper Power: The New National Press in Britain: Oxford University Press.