MC422      Half Unit
Critical Studies in Media and Journalism

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Charles Beckett


This course is available on the MSc in Media and Communications (Data and Society), MSc in Media and Communications (Research), MSc in Politics and Communication and MSc in Women, Peace and Security. 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

The news media is vital not just for the dissemination information but as a forum for debate. Journalism shapes our individual and community lives. It frames ideological disputes and is a site of contestation. But journalism and the news itself is changing because of technological, social, economic and political forces.  This course led by a media professor with 20 years of experience as a journalist, takes an ethical perspective on media change. It asks what impact journalism has, what kind of journalism do we want, and how will journalism reconstruct itself according to competing national, cultural, or political contexts. On completion of this course, students should be able to: understand the role of journalism in society today; critically discuss different theoretical conceptions of journalism as practiced in a wide variety of social and political contexts; compare and contrast the role of journalism in contexts ranging from mainstream to alternative media outlets; evaluate the normative and empirical connections between media journalism, the production of news and ethical considerations; critically assess contemporary debates about the changing nature of journalism and its implications for cultural understanding and democracy.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Michaelmas Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online lectures and in-person classes/classes delivered online. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of term.

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

  • Allan, S. (2009) The Routledge Companion to News and Journalism, London: Routledge;
  • Beckett, C. (2008) Supermedia, London: Blackwell;
  • Bell, E & Owen, T (2017) The Platform Press: How Silicon Valley Re-engineered Journalism (Tow Center, Columbia University)
  • Boczkowski, P and Anderson, C.W, Eds (2017) Remaking The News, MIT Press
  • Chouliaraki, L. (2006) Spectatorship of Suffering, London: Sage;
  • Hafez, K. (2007) The myth of media globalization, Cambridge: Polity;
  • Muhlmann, G. (2008) A Political History of Journalism, Cambridge: Polity;
  • Rodgers, J. (2012) Reporting Conflict, Palgrave;
  • Schudson, M (2008) Why Democracies Need An Unlovable Press (Polity)
  • Silverstone, R. (2006) Media and Morality: On the rise of the Mediapolis, Cambridge: Polity.


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

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 22.3
Merit 47.5
Pass 29.5
Fail 0.7

Teachers' comment

This course will explore how journalism is going through a series of revolutionary changes thanks to digital technologies and how those changes are impacting on everything from politics to war.

Students' comments

"I really enjoyed how interactive this course was and the way we participated in the lectures and seminars."

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: 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
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills