Not available in 2020/21
MC427      Half Unit
Digital Media Futures

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Alison Powell PEL.7.01J


This course is available on the MSc in Media and Communications, MSc in Media and Communications (Data and Society) and MSc in Media and Communications (Research). This course is available 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 provides an historical, theoretical and methodological basis through which to assess the social and cultural transformations related to digital media infrastructures and related social practices. It focuses on the materiality and affordances of new media, as well as on the social transformations that have co-evolved, focusing on emerging media of the past, present and future. It critiques and questions the assumptions about the transformation of social and cultural life but also attempts to help students develop conceptual strategies beyond critique. Conceptual approaches draw from materialist studies of media and communication, as well as science and technology studies Topics include but are not limited to: peer to peer and open source cultural movements, the political economy and ecology of digital media, the politics of algorithms, remembering and forgetting, the anthroposcene, artificial intelligence.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will complete a 1,500 word formative essay or creative proposal. They will also receive formative feedback on class participation and on a formative assignment.

Indicative reading

Marvin, Carolyn (1989) When Old Technologies Were New. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong and Thomas Keenan (2006) New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader. London: Routledge.

Hayles, N. Katherine (1999) How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kitchin Rob and Dodge, Martin (2011) Code/Space: Software and Everyday Life.

Lukers, Kristin (2007) Salsa Dancing into the Social sciences: Research in an age of info-glut. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Turner, Fred (2005) "Where the Counterculture Met the New Economy: The WELL and the Origins of Virtual Community." Technology and Culture 46: 485-512.

Turkle, Sherry (2011) Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books.

Vaidhyanathan, Siva (2008) The Googlization of Everything (And why we should worry). Berkeley: University of California Press.


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

Teachers' comment

We look at the connections between expectations about media technologies and ideas about the future - and we look at the particular features of today's media and their imagined futures.

Students’ comments

"Did a great job of breaking down abstract concepts and relating them in the seminar. Readings were very informative, interesting."

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2019/20: 31

Average class size 2019/20: 16

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication