This programme offers an intensive, year-long exploration of the significance of data and information within contemporary societies and communications. At a time when intensive data-gathering about online activity is central to both business models and to governments’ strategies for understanding their citizens, the programme’s critical perspective on the “move towards data” is highly relevant, allowing students to understand, evaluate and respond to the social and political contexts of data production and analytics. You will also consider the cultural aspects of data’s role within everyday life.
The MSc Media and Communications (Data and Society) provides students with the resources to understand the wider implications of a social shift towards data (as highlighted in recent debates about the data-gathering of the NSA and social media platforms). The programme will also teach students skills in understanding how data processes can be constructed, managed and renewed to fulfil social and civic ends, identifying the ethical questions raised by data’s growing role in communication and social processes and what approaches might resolve them, and understanding the significance of data-collection processes.
The programme aims to develop:
a broad understanding of the development and forms of media systems in relation to political economy, regulation and power, production and organisation, processes of mediation and influence, communication content and audience response
a broad understanding of data, information and knowledge as aspects of contemporary society, including theoretical and analytic perspectives
an up-to-date engagement with diverse theoretical, conceptual and empirical developments in research on media and communications, including in relation to the implications of data, both historically and in the present, for social, political and economic organisation
a mix of core and optional courses, culminating in an independent research project in media and communications, that provides an ideal preparation for research or employment in media and communications and data-related fields
the flexibility to tailor the programme to pursue particular topics of interest by selecting from a wide range of courses taught by leading experts in the Department of Media and Communications and other departments at LSE, with a focus on data, communications and society
We attract students from a diverse range of backgrounds, often including professional experience working in media and communications and data-related fields. Indeed, the opportunity for cross-cultural meetings and the exchange of ideas among the student body is a valuable feature of studying at LSE.
For more details and entry requirements, please check on the School's graduate prospectus page.
Set out below, you will find some suggested readings that will prove helpful to you in preparing for your arrival at LSE, and for finding out about courses you may be interested in taking.
It is not essential that you read everything on the list - the intention is simply to give you an idea of the level and range of material covered.
Boyd Danah & Crawford K., 2012. Critical Questions for Big Data. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), pp.662–679.
Cohen, J. 2012. Configuring the Networked Self: Law, Code, and the Play of Everyday Practice. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Gitelman, L, Ed. 2013. “Raw Data” is an Oxymoron. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Goldstein, B. and L. Dyson. 2013. Beyond Transparency: Open Data and the Future of Civic Information. Code for America.
Kitchin R. 2014. The Data Revolution: Big Data, Open Data, Data Infrastructures and their Consequences. London: Sage.
Morozov, Evgeny. 2013. To Save Everything, Click Here: Technology, Solutionism, and the Urge to Fix Problems that Don’t Exist. New York: Union Books.
Mosco V. (2014) To the Cloud: Big Data in a Turbulent World: Boulder, CO; Paradigm Publishers.
Schneier, B. Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World. New York: Norton.
Mayer-Shoenberger, V. and K. Cukier. 2013. Big Data: A Revolution that will Transform how we Live, Work and Think. London: John Murray.
Tufekci, Z, 2014, Engineering the Public: Big Data, Surveillance and Computational Politics , First Monday, Volume 19, Number 7
Vaidhyanathan S., 2011. The Googlization of everything (and why we should worry), Berkeley: University of California Press.
van Dijck, José. 2013.The culture of connectivity. A critical history of social media. New York, Oxford University Press
van Dijck , José, 2013. Datafication, dataism and dataveillance: Big Data between scientific paradigm and ideology, Surveillance & Society 12(2).
Also look at the Big Data and Society journal, open source journal available at:
AAPOR Task Force Report on Big Data 2015, American Association for Public Opinion Research
The Data Revolution: Finding the Missing Millions, 2015, Overseas Development Institute, London.
The Social, Cultural and Ethical Dimensions of "Big Data", summary of an event by Data & Society Research Institute, New York City, March 2014.
Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values. A report from the White House, May 2014.
Big data and positive social change in the developing world: a white paper for practitioners and researchers. Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Centre conference papers?, May 2014.
UN Global Pulse. (2012) Big Data for Development: Challenges & Opportunities. New York: UN Global Pulse.
For a recent WEF business perspective see
26th November: Alison Powell at "Machines with Brains" hosted by Quartz. 7:00 pm at WeWork 1 Fore St Moorgate London EC2Y 9DT (website TBC).
28th October: Jean-Christophe Plantin presenting 'Contrasting platforms and infrastructures as configurations for data sharing', at DARIAH's Humanities at Scale Winter School in Prague: 24th-28th October 2016.
5th October: "What Does Big Data Look Like - Data walkshop with Alison Powell" at LSE, supported by LTI's NetworkED programme.
29th September: Alison Powell speaking at Council of Europe Platform Exchange on Culture and Digitalization, "Small States, Big Data".
28th October: Data Citizenships, public lecture by Alison Powell at the Living Maps Seminar Series, Young Foundation.
21st October: Workshop on Big Data and Ethnography, at UCL.
6th October: Alison Powell will speak at Ethics of Big Data "Walkshop" with Microsoft Research, hosted by CRASSH Big Data Ethics programme.
16th September: Alison Powell will speak at the public lecture Data Citizenships and Communication Commons (struggles over technological citizenships) at the Infoscape Research Lab, Ryerson University Toronto Canada.