MC402      Half Unit
The Audience in Media and Communications

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Sonia Livingstone FAW.7.01L


This course is available on the MPhil/PhD in Data, Networks and Society, MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Marketing, MSc in Media and Communications, MSc in Media and Communications (Research), MSc in Politics and Communication and MSc in Strategic Communications. 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.

Course content

This course examines a variety of social, cultural and psychological issues as they relate to the audiences for mass and social media. It analyses people's everyday engagement with a mediated world. We will review the history of audiences and audience research from the vantage point of the present digital age, also examining key theories of audiences’ and users’ interpretation, engagement, fandom and creativity in a global and cross-media perspective. Students will be encouraged to read widely, to forge links with other aspects of media, communications and cultural studies in order to critically examine the positioning of audiences and users within the field, and to debate the nature and future of audiences in a changing media landscape.


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 essay of 1,500 words.

Indicative reading

Abercrombie, N. & Longhurst, B. (1998) Audiences: A Sociological Theory of Performance and Imagination, Sage;

Athique, A. (2016) Transnational Audiences: Media Reception on a Global Scale. Cambridge: Polity;

Barker, M. (2018) Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies, Volume 15 issue 1 (or other volumes)

Brooker, W. & Jermyn, D. (Eds.) (2003) The Audience Studies Reader, Routledge;

Butsch, R., & Livingstone, S. (Eds.) (2013) Meanings of Audiences: Comparative discourses, Routledge; Read chapter 1 online at

Carpentier, N., Schroeder, K., & Hallett, L. (Eds.) (2013), Audience Transformations: Shifting Audience Positions in Late Modernity, Intellect;

Das, R. (2019) A Field in Flux: The Intriguing Past and the Promising Future of Audience Analysis. Special Issue of the journal, Television and New Media;

Hanusch, F. and Tandoc, E.C. (2019) Journalism and its Audiences. Special Issue of the journal, Journalism.

Morley, D. (1992) Television, Audiences and Cultural Studies, Routledge;

Nightingale, V. (ed.) (2011) The Handbook of Media Audiences, Wiley-Blackwell;

Patriarche, G. et al. (eds.) (2014) Audience Research Methodologies: Between Innovation and Consolidation. London: Routledge;

Sender, K. (2012). The makeover: Reality television and reflexive audiences. New York: New York University Press.


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

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 17.3
Merit 58.2
Pass 23.2
Fail 1.4

Teachers' comment

This course critically investigates the nature and the future of audiences in our ever changing media environment.

Students' comments

"I enjoyed the involvement of guest lecturers - it made the course varied and interesting. I also appreciated the activities that made us pool our personal experience on Moodle."

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2018/19: 71

Average class size 2018/19: 14

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills