MC421      Half Unit
Critical Approaches to Media, Communication and Development

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Shakuntala Banaji FAW.7.01F


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Media, Communication and Development. This course is not available as an outside option.

In order to accommodate academic staff research leave 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

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 structures 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 who constructs knowledge and how knowledge is constructed in 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 sharp critique of scholarly and policy oriented literature that regards the media, information, and communication strategies, and information and communication technology applications, as obvious direct 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 injustice, poverty and unequal power relations influence the capacities of individuals to make changes in their lives and communities.


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: Narratives of Class, Agency and Social Change. London and New York: Routledge

Enghel, F. and Noske-Turner, J. (2018) Communication for International Development: Doing Good or Looking Good? London & 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

Galeano, E. (1973). Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent. New York and London: Monthly Review Press

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

Hayter, T. (1971). Aid as Imperialism. London: Pelican

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)

Mama, A. (1995) Beyond the Masks: Race, Gender and Subjectivity. London and New York: Routledge

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

Noble, S. (2018) Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. New York: New York University Press

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

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 summer exam period.

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

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 40.8
Merit 48.5
Pass 10.7
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 2018/19: 37

Average class size 2018/19: 18

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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