Advanced Methods of Research in Media & Communications (including Qualitative & Quantitative Analysis)

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jean-Christophe Plantin (Office: Tower 3, 7th floor, 0.1L) - Michaelmas, Lent and Summer Term


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Media and Communications (Research). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Students taking non-research track media and communications MSc programmes may take this course instead of MC4M1 subject to their own degree regulations and with the agreement of the teacher responsible.

Course content

i. Principles of Research in Media and Communications: a series of lectures offered by media and communications staff in MT. The lectures will normally cover the following topics central to research design across the social sciences, with a specific emphasis on their application to media and communications contexts: the general nature of research as social inquiry, interviewing, social network analysis, critical discourse analysis, content analysis, visual analysis, survey design/questionnaires, experiments, ethnography and participant observation, as well as research ethics.

ii. Principles of Social Research: A series of ten three-hour workshops (5 comprised of two x 1.5 hour sessions and 5 comprised of one x 3 hour sessions) offered by media and communications staff in LT. Students are required to participate in all ten workshops.

iii. Quantitative Analysis: Students have to take two statistics courses offered by the Methodology Department: MY451M Introduction to Quantitative Analysis; MY452L Applied Regression Analysis. Please note that these courses are compulsory and automatically included when you register for the standard MC4M2 course. (Students may be permitted to substitute a more advanced course offered by the Methodology Department in place of MY451M and/or MY452L, with the approval of the MC4M2 course convenor and subject to timetabling constraints.)


i. Principles of Research in Media and Communications: Lecture (one hour) x 10 MT; Lecture on Writing Methodological Critiques (one hour) x 1 LT.

ii. Principles of Social Research: Workshop (three hours) x 10 LT.

iii. Quantitative Analysis: MY451M: Lecture (two hours) x 10 MT and x 1 ST; Computer class (one hour) x 9 MT; MY452L: Lecture (two hours) x 10 LT; Computer class (one hour) x 10 LT.

iv. Methodology pilot drop in clinic: Workshop (two hours) x 1 LT and ST.


Formative coursework

i. Principles of Research in Media and Communications: All students are expected to complete advance readings and submit one essay of 1,500 words to their supervisors in week 11 of MT.

ii. Principles of Social Research Workshops: All students are expected to complete advance readings and submit workshop assignments.

iii. Quantitative Analysis: Most statistics courses require weekly assignments

Indicative reading

  • Alasuutari, P. (1995). Researching Culture: Qualitative Method and Cultural Studies. London; Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Bauer, M. W., & Gaskell, G. D. (2000). Qualitative Researching with Text, Image and Sound: A Practical Handbook for Social Research. London; Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Bell, A., & Garrett, P. (1998). Approaches To Media Discourse. Oxford; Malden, Mass: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Bertrand, I & Hughes, P. (2005) Media Research Methods. Audiences, Institutions and Texts. New York: Palgrave.
  • Bryman, A. (2012). Social Research Methods. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Burton, D. (2000). Research Training for Social Scientists: A Handbook for Postgraduate Researchers. London; Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Deacon, D., Pickering, M., Golding, P., & Murdock, G. (1999). Researching Communications: A Practical Guide to Methods in Media and Cultural Analysis. London: Hodder Education.
  • Flick, U. (1998). An Introduction to Qualitative Research. London; Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Hansen, A., Cottle, S., Negrine, P. R., & Newbold, C. (1998). Mass Communication Research Methods. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Jensen, K. B., & Jankowski, N. W. (1991). A Handbook of Qualitative Methodologies for Mass Communication Research. London; New York: Routledge.
  • Kent, R. (1994). Measuring Media Audiences. London ; New York: Cengage Learning EMEA.
  • Robson, C. (1993). Real World Research: A Resource for Social Scientists and Practitioner-researchers. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Rose, G. (2012). Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials. London; Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Schroder, K., Drotner, K., Kline, S., & Murray, C. (2003). Researching Audiences: A Practical Guide to Methods in Media Audience Analysis. London: New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Silverman, D. (2013). Doing Qualitative Research: A Practical Handbook. London; Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications Ltd.


Exam (17%, duration: 2 hours) and Exam (17%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Coursework (66%, 5000 words) in the ST.

Description of assessment:

1. Coursework: One written assignment of not more than 5,000 words to be submitted in ST Week 2 (66%).

2. Two two-hour examinations in ST relating to Quantitative Analysis MY451M and MY452L (see Methodology Department course guides) (34%).

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 41.2
Merit 41.2
Pass 17.6
Fail 0

Teachers' comment

This course shows how using different methodologies and ways of observing the world leads to asking different questions and, therefore, different answers and relates this to the ethical and moral implications of doing research. It gives you an in depth, broad quantitative and qualitative research training in observation and analysis.

Students' comments

"Extensive use of examples and practical step by step samples of the process the methodologies usually take helped us students foresee how we could go about using the methodologies and helped us think about what kind of research questions they are likely to answer."

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2015/16: 3

Average class size 2015/16: 2

Controlled access 2015/16: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills