MC408      Half Unit
Theories and Concepts in Media and Communications

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Dylan Mulvin

This course will also feature guest lectures delivered by academic staff from the Department of Media and Communications.


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and Fudan), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and UCT), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and USC), MSc in Media and Communications, MSc in Media and Communications (Data and Society), MSc in Media and Communications (Media and Communications Governance), MSc in Media and Communications (Research), MSc in Media, Communication and Development, MSc in Politics and Communication and MSc in Strategic Communications. This course is available on the Global MSc in Management, Global MSc in Management (CEMS MIM), Global MSc in Management (MBA Exchange), MPhil/PhD in Data, Networks and Society, MPhil/PhD in Media and Communications, MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Gender, Media and Culture and MSc in Political Sociology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

If this course is not listed as compulsory on your Programme Regulations, then please note that it is 'controlled access', meaning that there is a limit to the number of students who can be accepted. If the course is oversubscribed, offers will be made via a random ballot process, with priority given to students with the course listed on their Programme Regulations. Whist we do our best to accommodate all requests, we cannot guarantee you a place on this course.


There are no pre-requisites for this course. Students from outside the Department of Media and Communications should apply via LSE for You without submitting a statement.

Please do not email the teacher with personal expressions of interest as these are not required and do not influence who is offered a place.

Course content

This course introduces key theoretical and conceptual issues in the study of media and communications, within an interdisciplinary, social science perspective. It grounds the analysis of media and communications in broader theories of social order and social change to better understand the historical, political, economic, and technological significance of media, justice, and a changing society.

This course is the compulsory, theoretical component for all students in the MSc programmes of the Department of Media & Communications. As such, it is oriented towards introducing students with a broad range of academic and professional backgrounds to the core questions and problems in media and communication studies. Accordingly, its topics range from the power of networks and the politics of representation and difference, to the social and economic role of platforms, algorithms, and media ownership, to the changing shape of the public sphere.

As a team-taught course that combines weekly lectures and seminars, its purpose is to expose students to a wide range of research-led debates at an advanced level, and to enable students to develop their understanding and critical appraisal of the relation between media and power.

The course also includes an invited speaker series (‘Media in Action Talks’) which addresses the interface between academic issues taught on the Media and Communications programmes and professional issues facing media and communications industries. Speakers will normally include a mix of journalists, activists, and executives working for UK and global media companies or in the NGO-sector in London. The purpose is to provide an opportunity for students to relate the topics and themes addressed within their academic studies to the debates and concerns currently facing practitioners.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the AT.

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 1500 words.

Indicative reading

A specialist reading list will be provided for each topic. General reference readings relevant to the course include:

  • Ananny, M. (2018). Networked Press Freedom. MIT Press.
  • Atton, C. (2015) The Routledge Companion to Alternative and Community Media. London: Routledge.
  • Benjamin, R. (2019) Race After Technology. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Brock, A. (2020) Distributed Blackness: African American Cybercultures. New York: NYU Press
  • Carey, J. W. (1989) Communication as Culture. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Curran, J. (ed.) (2010) Media and Society. 5th Edition. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Gill, R. (2007) Gender and the Media. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Gitelman, L. (2006). Always Already New: Media, History, and The Data of Culture. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • Hall, S. (ed.) (1997) Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
  • Harp, D., Loke, J. and Bachmann, I. (eds.) (2018) Feminist Approaches to Media Theory and Research. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • McKinney, C. (2020) Information Activism: a Queer History of Lesbian Media Technologies
  • McQuail, D. (2010) Mass Communication Theory – 6th Edition. London: Sage.
  • Mejias, M. (2013) Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital World. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota University Press.
  • Towns, A. R. (2022). On black media philosophy. University of California Press.
  • Wasko, J., Murdock, G. and Sousa, H. (eds) (2011) The Handbook of Political Economy of Communications. London: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Zeavin, H. (2021) The distance cure: A history of teletherapy. MIT Press.


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

Key facts

Department: Media and Communications

Total students 2022/23: 337

Average class size 2022/23: 17

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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