Home > Department of Media and Communications > Study > MSc Programmes > MSc Media and Communications (Data and Society)



Department of Media and Communications
London School of Economics & Political Science
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE

Opening hours:
Tower 2, 6th Floor, Clements Inn
Monday-Friday: 10am-4pm
n.b. closed for lunch 1pm-2pm


Tel: Who's Who


Email: Who's Who


Admissions queries: media@lse.ac.uk 


Join our mailing list


Maps and directions


Follow us: FollowUs


Read or contribute to our blogs



MSc Media and Communications (Data and Society)

MSc Data and Society


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.  

Programme director

ALison Powel

Dr Alison Powell

Alison Powell is a Lecturer at the Department of Media & Communications. She has a PhD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, where she conducted research on community wireless networks as forms of technical activism that created new mediated communities and publics. Before arriving at the LSE in 2010, Alison was an SSHRC postdoctoral research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, where she studied grassroots technology development and digital advocacy and their impact on new media technologies and policies.

Her research examines the history and future of 'openness' within new media. She is interested in how openness in architecture and policy are negotiated by a range of actors including amateurs and 'contributors'. More specifically, she studies open-source cultures including community wireless networks, free software advocates and people interested in open sourcing knowledge including hardware design.

LSE Experts


Core faculty


Dr Jean-Christophe Plantin

Jean-Christophe Plantin is Assistant Professor at the Department of Media & Communications. Prior to arriving at the LSE, he was Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan, where he worked on the impact of large and heterogeneous datasets (or “big data”) on data infrastructures and interdisciplinary collaborations. In 2012, he defended his PhD in Communication Studies & Information Science at the Université de Technologie de Compiègne, France. He holds MAs from Université Paris 8, France, and European Graduate School, Switzerland. 

His current research investigates the political and social implications of “data science.” The hypothesis of this ongoing research is that the social implications of that opacity, such as data-driven surveillance and discrimination, calls for new modes of visuality to shed light on how data circulate between the different social worlds involved in both producing and using these data.


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.

Books and Open Source Academic Articles

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.

Nov 9th: Thomas Parisot, BBC R&D

Silverstone Room, 18:00-19:00

Nov 23th: Sarah Gold, Studio Design IF

NAB.2.04, 17:30-18:30

Prospecting Facebook: Beyond the Economy of Attention

Professor Greg Elmer, Ryerson University

Wed December 7th, 14:00-15:30, Silverstone Room

This presentation investigates how Facebook, in the years proceeding its IPO on the NASDAQ stock exchange, sought to rearticulate its core business model to investors. It is argued that the 'economy of attention' framework fails to account for Facebook's prospecting for value outside of its advertising business. The presentation pushes aside industrial critiques of social media 'work' and 'factories' to make room for a speculative framework that recognizes how financialized social media companies discriminate on a social scale.

Greg Elmer is Bell Media Research Chair, and Professor of Professional Communication at Ryerson University, Toronto. Greg has published eight book on topics ranging from social media and political communication to surveillance and protest. His is currently writing a book on the financialization of new media companies. His second feature documentary film "The Canadian Delegation" will be released in the summer of 2017. 

Microsoft logo

The Microsoft Prize is offered annually in recognition of excellent dissertation in the field of data and society.

It was awarded for 2016 to Atilla Filipe Cevik for the following dissertation:

Life in the Filter Bubble: A Platform Perspective on User Selectivity in Online News Consumption

Comment from Supervisor, Dr Alison Powell: A fascinating empirical examination of content sorting in online news aggregators. It is a totally novel study and features an extremely well defined position to the literature, framing and then answering three types of questions. It provides a good hypothesis challenging and interrogating current leading research, with well specified hypotheses. An interesting methodology almost amounts to reverse-engineering, leading to an important insight that algorithms are not structuring forces along, but are always about articulations to platforms. This is an important empirical validation of the claim that algorithmic curation reduces diversity, but also disproves hypotheses that political news is sorted based on political preference. Commendable work and should be published as soon as possible!



How to Apply