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

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Ellen Helsper (STC.S119c) - 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, 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 9 MT; Computer class (one hour) x 9 MT; MY452L: Lecture (two hours) x 9 LT; Computer class (one hour) x 9 LT .

iv. Methodology pilot drop in clinic: Workshop (two hours) x 1 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 10 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

Adams, R. C. (1989) Social Survey Methods for Mass Media Research, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates;

Alasuutari, P. (1995) Researching Culture, Sage;

Bryman, A. (2001) Social Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press;

Bauer, M. W. & Gaskell, G. (Eds) (2000) Qualitative Researching with Text, Image and Sound: A Practical Handbook, Sage;

Bell, A. and Garrett, P. (eds.) (1998) Approaches to Media Discourse, Oxford: Blackwell;

Burton, D. (2000) Research Training for Social Scientists: A Handbook for Postgraduate Researchers, Sage;

Deacon, D. et al. (1999) Researching Communications: A Practical Guide to Methods in Media and Cultural Analysis, Oxford University Press;

Dillman, D.A., Smythe, J.D. & Christian, L.M. (2009) Internet, Mail, and Mixed-mode Surveys: The Tailored Design Method (3rd edition). John Wiley & Sons;

Flick, U. (1998) An Introduction to Qualitative Research, Sage;

Hansen, A. et al. (1998) Mass Communications Research Methods, Macmillan;

Habermas, J. (1997) Knowledge and Human Interest, Polity;

Jensen, K. B. & Jankowski, N. (Eds) (1991) A Handbook of Qualitative Methodologies for Mass Communications Research, Routledge;

Kent, R. (1994) Measuring Media Audiences, Routledge;

Krippendorf, K. (2004) Content Analysis: An introduction to Its Methodology (2nd edition), Sage;

Robson, C. (1993) Real World Research: A Resource for Social Scientists and Practitioner Researchers, Blackwell;

Rose, G. (2011) Visual Methodologies (3rd edition). Sage;

Schroeder, K., Drotner, K., Kline, S., Murray, C. (2003) Researching Audiences. London: Arnold;

Silverman, D. (Ed) (2010) Doing Qualitative Research (3rd Edition), Sage;

Vis, F. & Thelwall, M. (January, 2014) Researching Social Media, Sage;

Webster, R. P. (1985) Basic Content Analysis, Sage.

Yin, R.K. (2013) Case Study Research: Design and Methods (5th edition), Sage;

No one book covers the entire syllabus; students will be expected to read widely in appropriate journals and books, and a list of references will be provided at the start of the course and in advance of the workshops. In Lent Term students will be provided with examples of journal articles in which the discussed research methods are applied.


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

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 50
Merit 35.7
Pass 14.3
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 2014/15: 4

Average class size 2014/15: 2

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

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