module specification

SM5068 - Researching Media Audiences (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Researching Media Audiences
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 150
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   2,000 word essay
Coursework 60%   2,000 word essay
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module critically examines the history of media audience research focusing on theoretical, methodological and ethical questions. Students study different ways of conceptualising and researching the relationship between media and audiences. They learn to evaluate and apply key concepts, theories and methods in designing and conducting their own piece of audience research.

The module aims to equip students to:

● develop a critically understanding of different approaches to conceptualising media audiences and available research strategies
● examine and evaluate existing audience research, its history and context, and the methods that have informed it
● conduct a short piece of audience research

Prior learning requirements

Successful completion of Level 4


Typically, the module will cover the following:

Changing concepts of the audience
Research and research paradigms
Quantitative and qualitative approaches to research
Media effects
Screen theory
Uses and gratifications
Audience reception theories
Participatory culture
Content analysis
Textual analysis
Survey methods
Focus group interviewing
Research ethics

Learning Outcomes LO 1 - 2

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Teaching methods include lectures, seminars/discussion groups, audio-visual presentations, field trips, and guest presentations. Students will be expected to attend lectures and take notes; attend organised trips and arrange independent trips to film festivals or other events; students will be expected to read from primary and secondary sources and to use seminars and tutorials to raise issues and seek feedback.

A blended learning strategy will be employed to enhance the learning experience, facilitate communication between students and tutors and develop collaboration among students. The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) will be used as a platform to support online activities including on-line discussions, evaluation of online resources, and access to electronic reading packs. The VLE will also be used to facilitate formative assessment and related feedback, as well as a tool to integrate useful online learning materials provided by research institutions, academic publications, professional organisations and other relevant sources.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students will be able to:
1. Compare different ways of conceptualising the relationship between media and audiences
2. Critically evaluate concrete examples of audience research and the theories, paradigms and methods which inform it
3. Apply some of the paradigms and methods of audience research in short piece of fieldwork


Core texts
Braudy, L. and Cohen, M. (eds). 2016. Film Theory and Criticism. Eighth edition. Oxford; Oxford University Press.
Burgess, J. and Green, J. 2018. YouTube: Online video and participatory culture. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Bryman, A. 2016. Social Research Methods. Fourth Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gillespie, M. 2005. Media Audiences, Maidenhead: Open University Press
Perse, E. M. and J. L. Lambe. 2017. Media Effects and Society. 2nd Edition. New York and London: Routledge. Introduction.
Stokes, J. 2013. How to do Media and Cultural Studies. Second Edition. London: Sage
Sullivan, J. L. 2020. Media Audiences, Effects, Users, Institutions and Power. Los Angeles/London: Sage.

Additional texts

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.
Berger, A. A. 2013. Media and Communication Research Methods: An Introduction to Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Third Edition. London: Sage
Burgess, J. and Green, J. 2009. YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Gauntlett, D. 2007. Creative Explorations: New approaches to identities and audiences, London: Routledge.
Gorton, K. 2013. Media Audiences: Television, Meaning and Emotion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hall, S. et al (eds). 1980. Culture, Media Language. London: Routledge.
Jenkins, H. 2013. Textual Poachers– television fans and participatory culture. Second edition. New York and London: Routledge.
Livingstone, S. 2009. Children and the Internet. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Morley, D. 1992. Television, Audiences and Cultural Studies, London: Routledge.
Moores, S. 1993. Interpreting Audiences, London: Sage.
Tulloch, J. 2000. Watching Television Audiences: Cultural Theories and Methods, London: Arnold

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