module specification

SM4050 - Introduction to Digital Media (2019/20)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2019/20
Module title Introduction to Digital Media
Module level Certificate (04)
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%   Blog commentaries
Coursework 60%   Digital Artefact
Running in 2019/20
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Summer studies North Friday Afternoon
Autumn semester North Friday Afternoon

Module summary

The module is an introduction to the field of digital media as an area of practice, as culture, and as a set of structures. It addresses a variety of issues ranging from digital politics to social networks, from memes and glitch to self-organization and free labour. The module provides a sound foundation to the history of new media technologies. It also introduces students to the current debates, including those of amateur vs. professional, grass-roots revolutions, and free and open source vs. proprietary software. It is a theory and practice based course, and along with engaging with abstract concepts we will explore software and network environments.

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • Introduce students to digital media history and theory
  • Develop a practical understanding of digital media technology
  • Enable the students to critically evaluate key concepts and developments of digital media technology


An indicative programme of study covers the following:

  • History of networks, Internet and World Wide Web
  • Pixel, GUI, WYSIWIG
  • Early network pioneers
  • The concepts of Temporary Autonomous Zone, Digital Communism
  • Free and Open Source Software
  • Copyright and copyleft
  • Appliance-ization of the digital media
  • Web 2.0, self-organisation and ownership
  • Free labour and new forms of economy
  • Digital media politics and policies
  • Virtual Communities
  • Digital aesthetics
  • • Old media and new media

Learning and teaching

This module will be delivered by a variety of teaching strategies, putting emphasis on student-centred learning. Teaching will involve a combination of modes, including lectures, computer workshops, tutorials, assisted reading sessions and study of specially prepared online resources. Visits to relevant exhibitions, followed by discussions, analysis and presentations will also be included. Comprehensive, specially designed, online up-to-date support resources will be made available on VLE and updated weekly. The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) will be used as a platform to support online activities, facilitate formative assessment and related feedback, as well as a tool to integrate useful online learning materials. A blended learning strategy will be employed to enhance the learning experience, facilitate communication between students and tutors and develop collaboration among students.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to

  1. Summarise and comment on digital media history and theory.
  2. Critically evaluate digital media phenomena utilising digital media technology.

Assessment strategy

A) 5 Blog commentaries (each 250 words) commenting on digital media history and theory. (Weighting 40%) (LO1)

B) Digital artefact: Critically evaluate digital media phenomena utilising digital media technology. (60%) (LO2)

Students may pass on aggregate


Lister, M.  Dovey, J., Giddins, S.,  at al. (2003)  New media; A critical introduction. N-Y: Routledge.
Manovich, L. (2001) The Language of New Media, Cambridge: MIT Press.
McLuhan, M. (1962) Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Benkler, Y. (2006) The Wealth of Networks. How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Lessig, L. (2004) Free Culture.How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity, N-Y: The Penguin Press. Available at:
Shirkey, C. (2008) Here Comes Everybody. The Power of Organizing without Organizations, N-Y: Penguin Books.
Rheingold, H. (1994) The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier, N-Y: Perennial.
Wardrip-Fruin, N. and Montfort, N. Eds.,  (2003) The New Media Reader, Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.
Mitchell W.J., (1992) The Reconfigured Eye; Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era, Cambridge MA MIT: Press.
Tribe, M. and Jana, R. ( 2006), New Media Art, Taschen.
Terranova, T. ‘Free labor: producing culture for the digital economy’ In Social Text, 63, Vol. 18, No. 2,
Zittrain, J. (2008) The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, Yale: Yale University Press.