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

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Ellen Helsper


This course is compulsory on the MPhil/PhD in Data, Networks and Society and MPhil/PhD in Media and Communications. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

i. Principles of Research in Media and Communications: A series of lectures offered by Department of Media and Communications faculty in Michaelmas Term. 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, discourse analysis, social network analysis, content analysis, visual analysis, survey design/questionnaires, case studies, ethnography and participant observation, as well as research ethics.

ii. Specialist research workshops: A series of 5 three-hour workshops (comprised of two x 1.5 hour sessions) offered by media and communications staff in LT. Students are required to participate in all five workshops.

iii. Principles of Social Research Analysis: Students have to take at least one quantitative analysis course offered by the Department of Methodology (MY464 is the basic option). In addition, students are recommended to take either another quantitative or a qualitative analysis course offered by the Department of Methodology. The combination of courses must be approved by the supervisor and discussed with the MC5M2 convenor.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops totalling a minimum of 53 hours across Michaelmas and Lent 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.

This is comprised of the following:

i. Principles of Research in Media and Communications: Lecture (one hour) x 10 Michaelmas Term; Lecture on Writing Methodological Chapters and Papers (one hour) x 1 Lent Term

ii. Specialist workshops:  Workshops (three hours) x 5 Lent Term (each comprised of two 1.5-hour sessions)

iii. Principles of Social Research Analysis: Quantitative analysis course MY464 in Michaelmas Term: This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures. This year, this teaching will be delivered through a combination of short online recorded films for the lectures and live classes, which will be delivered face-to-face where feasible, or online where not. Combined hours across lectures and classes will be equivalent to a minimum of 30 hours face-to-face teaching.

Formative coursework

i. Principles of Research in Media and Communications: All students are expected to write a 7000 word methodology chapter for their thesis and submit it to their supervisor in ST1. This will normally include a pilot study testing one method to be used in the thesis.

ii. Principles of Social Research: All students are expected to complete advance readings and submit workshop assignments.

iii. Principles of Social Research Analysis: Most quantitative analysis courses require weekly assignments. The qualitative analysis courses vary in their formative assessment.

Indicative reading

  • Alasuutari, P. (1995). Researching Culture: Qualitative Method and Cultural Studies. London; Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Bauer, M. W., & Gaskell, G. D. (2000). Qualitative Researching with Text, Image and Sound: A Practical Handbook for Social Research. London; Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Bell, A., & Garrett, P. (1998). Approaches To Media Discourse. Oxford; Malden, Mass: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Bertrand, I & Hughes, P. (2005) Media Research Methods. Audiences, Institutions and Texts. New York: Palgrave.
  • Bryman, A. (2012). Social Research Methods. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Deacon, D., Pickering, M., Golding, P., & Murdock, G. (1999). Researching Communications: A Practical Guide to Methods in Media and Cultural Analysis. London: Hodder Education.
  • De Vries, R. (2018) Critical Statistics: Seeing beyond the headlines. London, UK: MacMillan International.
  • Flick, U. (1998). An Introduction to Qualitative Research. London; Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Hansen, A., Cottle, S., Negrine, P. R., & Newbold, C. (1998). Mass Communication Research Methods. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Jensen, K. B., & Jankowski, N. W. (1991). A Handbook of Qualitative Methodologies for Mass Communication Research. London; New York: Routledge.
  • Jørgensen, M. W., & Phillips, L. J. (2002). Discourse analysis as theory and method. London: Sage.
  • Fairclough, N. (2001). Language and power. London: Pearson Education.
  • Kent, R. (1994). Measuring Media Audiences. London; New York: Cengage Learning EMEA.
  • Rose, G. (2012). Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials. London; Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Schroder, K., Drotner, K., Kline, S., & Murray, C. (2003). Researching Audiences: A Practical Guide to Methods in Media Audience Analysis. London: New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Silverman, D. (2013). Doing Qualitative Research: A Practical Handbook. London; Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications Ltd.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the January exam period.

One exam in the January exam period relating to Quantitative Analysis (e.g. MY464) and one exam in Summer Term if another quantitative analysis course is taken (see Department of Methodology course guides).

Note: Summative assignments differ depending on the components of the methodological training taken by the students. Students must pass all components of MC5M2.

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.

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: 7

Average class size 2020/21: 2

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