MC405      Half Unit
Current issues in Media and Communications: Policies for ICTs, Society and Development

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Savita Bailur


This course is available on the MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and Fudan), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and USC), MSc in Media and Communications, MSc in Media and Communications (Media and Communications Governance), MSc in Media and Communications (Research) and MSc in Media, Communication and Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Priority will be given to students on other programmes in the Media and Communications department. In order to accommodate academic staff research leave and sabbaticals, and in order to maintain smaller seminar group sizes, this course is capped, meaning that there is a limit to the number of students who can be accepted. Whist we do our best to accommodate all requests, we cannot guarantee you a place on this course.


Background similar to completion of MC424 is desirable but not essential.

Course content

How does one design an ICT (information and communication) policy which is as inclusive as possible? What are the decision-making processes involved - for example, in mobile regulation, internet governance or e-waste, just to take a few examples? This course will examine policies and their relationship with society and development, drawing on multi-disciplinary theories and mutual learning from other modules (for example, MC424, MC403, MC421) but also offer a unique practical approach with the course leaders as practitioners in the policy field. We discuss issues including competition and regulation, ICTs and development, internet governance, mobile phones and exclusion, overcoming affordability barriers, information rights, mobile internet use and ICT waste. For example, some of the topics we have discussed in the past include policy-making surrounding the political economy of billing in South Africa, mobile internet and income generation for women in China or competition and regulation in Bhutan.

Course objectives are: to examine the relationship between ICT policy and wider public policy domains (e.g. social policy, international development, the environment); to explore the development and regulation of communications in countries at all stages of economic and social development; to understand current experience and the application of policy development and research methods in these areas; and to illustrate these issues from practical experience.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to complete advance reading, prepare seminar presentations, and submit one mid-term formative reflection of 500 words on their seminar participation and what value this has shown to them.

Indicative reading

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (2009). Future Consumer: Emerging consumer Issues in Telecommunications and Convergent Communications and Media, Sydney.

Broadband Commission (2015). The state of broadband 2015: broadband as a foundation for sustainable development.  ITU and UNESCO.

Donner, J. (2015). After access: Inclusion, development, and a more mobile Internet, Cambridge, MIT Press.

Development as freedom – how the Capability Approach can be used in ICT4D research and practice, Information Technology for Development, 18:1 (2012), Thematic Special Issue.

Heeks, R. (2010). Do information and communication technologies (ICTs) contribute to development?. Journal of International Development, 22(5), 625-640.

International Telecommunication Union (2015). Measuring the Information Society.

Mansell, R. (2012). Imagining the Internet: Communication, Innovation, and Governance, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Souter, D. ed. (2009). The APC ICT Policy Handbook, Association for Progressive Communications.

Toyama, K. (2015). Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology. Public Affairs.

Unwin, Tim (ed.) (2009). ICT4D: Information and Communication Technology for Development, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Wicker, S. B., & Santoso, S. M. (2013). Access to the internet is a human right. Communications of the ACM, 56 (6), 43-46.

World Bank (2016). Digital Dividends: World Development Report, Washington DC, World Bank.

Wu, T. (2010).The Master Switch: The rise and fall of information empires, New York: Alfred Knopf


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 19.2
Merit 45.2
Pass 32.9
Fail 2.7

Teachers' comment

This course considers how conflicting interests are handled in policymaking for communications (focusing on internet and mobile phones); and the outcomes of these often messy processes, looking both inwards to how the sector works, and outwards to how it affects society and development.

Students' comments

"I was very pleased with the practical approach to the course content and the critical look on real situations when the underlying theory does not operate perfectly. I thought the interactivity of the seminars was excellent."

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2015/16: 33

Average class size 2015/16: 16

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness