MC421      Half Unit
Critical Approaches to Media, Communication and Development

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Shakuntala Banaji TW2.7.01F


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Media, Communication and Development. This course is available on the MSc in Inequalities and Social Science, MSc in Media and Communications, MSc in Media and Communications (Media and Communications Governance) and MSc in Media and Communications (Research). This course is not available as an outside option.

It is also available to other students from the Department of Media and Communications with the permission of the teacher. 

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.

Course content

The content of the course addresses the history of and tensions between 'media for development' and 'communication for development', while challenging mainstream development perspectives on aid, modernisation, and the role of media and communication in low income countries and unequal social contexts. It achieves this aim by emphasising the conflictual relationships between economic and political power stuctures and the empowerment of individuals, as well as among collective groupings within their local and regional contexts. In particular, paying attention to issues of history, colonisation, race and gender, this course  questions the epistemological basis of modernisation approaches to Media, Communication and Development.  It explores the ways in which the concepts of ideology, discourse, orientalism, reflexivity and power can enable a critical understanding of social life, participation and change in the global south. The course also offers a critique of the scholarly and policy oriented literature that regards the media, information, and communication strategies, and information and communication technology applications, as obvious means of alleviating poverty and fostering democracy and human rights in low-income countries. It offers alternative theorisations of the contested way in which developments in these areas become embedded in the cultural and social fabric, especially where poverty and unequal power relations influence the capacities of individuals to make changes in their lives.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

Film viewing: 3 hours in MT.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to complete advance reading, participate in case studies and discussions on moodle forums, prepare seminar presentations, organise and attend practitioner seminars and film/documentary viewings and submit one essay of 1,500 words.

Indicative reading

Abrahamson, R. (2000) Disciplining Democracy: Development Discourse and Good Governance in Africa. London, Zed Books;

Banaji, S. (2016). Children and Media in India. London and New York: Routledge;

Escobar, A. (2011) Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World. Princeton USA: Princeton University Press;

Freire, P. (1970) Pedagogy of the Oppressed, New York: Continuum;

Hall, S (ed.) (1997) Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications;

Hayter, T. (1990) The Creation of World Poverty. London: Pluto Press. Hemer, O. and Tufte, T. (eds) (2005) Media and Global Change: Rethinking Communication for Development, Clacso and NORDICOM;

International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems. (2004) One World: Communication and Society, Today and Tomorrow; Towards a New More Just and More Efficient World information and communication order, London, New York and Paris: UNESCO and Roman & Littlefield;

Katz, C. (2004) Growing Up Global: Economic Restructuring and Children's Everyday Lives. Mineapolis and London: University of Minessota Press; Kapoor, Ilan (2008) The Postcolonial Politics of Development (London and New York: Routledge);

Kovats-Bernat, J. C. (2006) Sleeping Rough in Port-au-Prince: an Ethnography of Street Children and Violence in Haiti. Florida: University of Florida Press;

Manyozo, L. (2012) Media, communication and development: three approaches, New Delhi, India SAGE Publications;

Melkote, S. and Steeves, H. L. (2001) Communication for Development in the Third World: Theory and practice for empowerment, New Delhi and Thousand Oaks CA: Sage;

Quebral, N. (1988) Development Communication, Laguna: UPLB College of Agriculture;

Rodriguez, C. (2011) Citizens media against armed conflict. Minnesota: Minnesota University Press.

Scott, M. (2014) Media and Development. London: Zed books;

Said, E. (1979) Orientalism. New York: Vintage; Schramm, W. (1964). Mass Media in National Development. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press;

Servaes, J (ed.) (2008) Communication for Development and Social Change. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks, CA and Singapore: Sage.

Singhal, A. and Rogers, E. (1999) Entertainment-Education: A Communication Strategy for Social Change. Malden, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

This is a seen examination, made available to students up to seven days prior to the sitting.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 43.1
Merit 47.1
Pass 9.8
Fail 0

Teachers' comment

Via questions about history, power, representation and knowledge, this course challenges modernisation perspectives on the use of media and communication for development in the global south. 

Students' comments 

"This brilliant and insightful course challenged me to think deeply about the connections between participation and modernisation approaches to improving living conditions in the global south."

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2015/16: 41

Average class size 2015/16: 14

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Lecture capture used 2015/16: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication