MC408      Half Unit
Theories and Concepts in Media and Communications I (Key concepts and interdisciplinary approaches)

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Shani Orgad STC. S110


This course is compulsory 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), MSc in Media, Communication and Development and MSc in Politics and Communication. This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Gender, Media and Culture, MSc in Management, MSc in Management (CEMS MIM), MSc in Media and Communications (Data and Society) and MSc in Political Sociology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

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

This course addresses key theoretical and conceptual issues in the study of media and communications, within a broadly interdisciplinary social science perspective. It grounds the analysis of media and communications phenomena within broader sociological and political theories of social order and social change, thereby revealing the shifting significance of the media environment for relations among the state, market and public sphere in a globalising knowledge society.

The course is divided into two main sections. The first examines key concepts underpinning the analysis of media and communications phenomena in order to understand processes of power and mediation in contemporary societies. The second explores selected critical perspectives which have proved influential in the field of media and communications. As a team taught course that combines weekly lectures and seminars, its purpose is to expose students to a range of research-led debates at an advanced level, and to enable students to develop their understanding and critical appraisal of the relation between media and power at the levels of institutions, culture and social processes.

The course also includes an invited speaker series (‘Media Agenda Talks’) which addresses the interface between academic issues taught on the Media and Communications programmes and professional issues facing the media and communications industry. Speakers will normally include a mix of journalists and executives working for UK and global media companies in London. The purpose of the seminar is to provide an opportunity for students to relate the topics and themes addressed within their academic studies to the debates and concerns currently facing practitioners.


10 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the MT. 1 hour of lectures and 1 hour and 30 minutes of seminars in the ST.

13 hours and 30 minutes of Polis Media Agenda Talks in MT.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to complete advance reading, prepare seminar presentations, and submit one essay of 1,500 words during MT.

Indicative reading

A reading list will be provided for each topic. General works relevant to the course include:


Bennett, L. & Entman, R. (Eds) (2001) Mediated Politics: Communication in the Future of Democracy, Cambridge University Press;

Butsch, R. (ed.), (2007) Media and Public Spheres. Palgrave Macmillan;

Carey, J. W. (1989) Communication as Culture. New York: Routledge.

Castells, M. (2009). Communication Power, Oxford University Press;

Chadwick, A. (2006) Internet Politics: States, Citizens, and New Communication Technologies, Oxford University Press; 

Curran, J. (2002) Media and Power. Routledge;

Curran, J. & Gurevitch, M. (eds) (2005) Mass Media and Society. 4th ed. Arnold;

Dahlgren, P. (1995) Television and the Public Sphere, Sage;

McChesney, R. (2000) Rich Media Poor Democracy. New Press; 

Mejias, M. (2013) Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital World. Minnesota University Press.

Calabrese, A. & Sparks, C. (eds) (2004) Toward a Political Economy of Culture, Capitalism and Communication in the 21st Century, Rowman & Littlefield; 

Tomlinson, J. (1999) Globalization and Culture. University of Chicago Press;

Thompson, J.B. (1995) The Media and Modernity: A social theory of the media. Polity.

Turkle, S. (2011). Alone together. New York : Basic Books; Wasko, J. et al. (eds) The Handbook of Political Economy of Communications. London: Wiley-Blackwell


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

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 17.9
Merit 51.9
Pass 28
Fail 2.2

Teachers' comment

The course brings together a wide and diverse range of theoretical traditions, ideas, approaches and types of research.

It is taught by different lecturers who draw on their expertise and research interests to discuss specific theories and concepts. This makes it a rich and challenging course which demands students to constantly link, compare and contrast between the different topics, and to gradually recognise the emerging ‘big picture’ of media and communications.

Students' comments

"At first theories are difficult but then it makes sense. Seminars are challenging and allow you to really get to grips with texts and increase understanding of concepts."

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2014/15: 241

Average class size 2014/15: 14

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Lecture capture used 2014/15: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills