module specification

SM5054 - Media Audiences (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Media Audiences
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   Essay (2000 words)
Coursework 60%   Research report (2000 words)
Running in 2017/18 No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module critically examines the history of media audience research and related issues. It investigates both theoretical and methodological questions.

Students will study different ways of conceptualising and researching the relationship between media and audiences, and theorising power and the dynamics of public and everyday discourses in shaping culture and society.

Students will evaluate and apply key concepts and theories in conducting their own piece of audience research.

Module aims

  • To develop a critically understanding of different approaches to conceptualising media audiences and the surrounding debates
  • To examine and evaluate existing audience research, its history and context, and the methods that have informed it
  • To equip students to conduct a short piece of audience research


The ‘media effects’ tradition – history and contexts
Children and the effects of television and the Internet
Psychoanalytic accounts of ‘media effects’
Uses and gratifications tradition
Hall’s encoding/decoding model
Active audience theory
Audience ethnography
Melodrama and soaps
Feminist audience research
Ethnicity and media consumption
Transnational audiences
Fandom and participatory culture
Postmodernism and cultural populism 
Textual analysis
Focus group research
Research ethics


Learning and teaching

Teaching methods include lectures, workshops, seminars, screenings, fieldwork, 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. Students are expected to engage in self-directed learning including reading, use of Weblearn, and assessment preparation.  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 completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Compare different ways of conceptualising the relationship between media and audiences
  • Critically evaluate concrete examples of audience research and the theories, paradigms and methods which inform it
  • Critically evaluate research on how media texts may organise understandings, meanings and affects
  • Analyse evidence of how different social groups interpret and make use of media texts
  • Apply some of the paradigms and methods of audience research in short piece of fieldwork

Assessment strategy

The summative assessments listed below will be interspersed with regular formative assessment (including self-assessment) and feedback.

Students will be asked to write an essay and write a critical report based on a short piece of fieldwork.

The essay will test the student’s ability to compare and critically appraise different approaches to audience research, including the theories, models and methods they employ. The essay should be 2,500 words long.

The fieldwork will require the student to apply some of the paradigms and methods of audience research. The critical report will test the student’s ability to analyse his/her research findings, to evaluate the paradigms and methods used, and to discuss how different social groups may interpret and make use of media texts.

  • 2,000-word essay (40%)
  • A 2,000-word written report based on a piece of fieldwork (60%)



Alasuutari, P. (1999) Rethinking the Media Audience, London: Sage
Barker, M. and Petley, J. (eds.) (1997) Ill effects: the media/violence debate. London and New York: Routledge.
Bird, S. E. (2003) The Audience in Everyday Life, London: Routledge
Brooker, W. and Jermyn, D. (eds.) (2003) The Audience Studies Reader. London: Routledge.
Burgess, J. and Green, J. (2009) YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Gauntlett, David (2007) Creative Explorations: New approaches to identities and audiences, London: Routledge.
Gillespie, M (2005) Media Audiences, Maidenhead: Open University Press
Gorton, K. 2009. Media Audiences: Television, Meaning and Emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Hall, S. et al (eds.) (1980) Culture, Media Language, London: Routledge
Livingstone, S. (2009) Children and the Internet. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Moores, S. (1993) Interpreting Audiences, London: Sage
Morley, D. (1992) Television, Audiences and Cultural Studies, London: Routledge
Seiter, E. Et al (eds.) (1989) Remote Control: Television, Audiences and Cultural Power, London: Routledge.
Tulloch, J. (2000) Watching Television Audiences: Cultural Theories and Methods, London: Arnold.

Online journal: Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies.