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2016/17 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

COMM2910 Communication Research Methods

20 creditsClass Size: 112

Module manager: Dr Giles Moss

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2016/17

Pre-requisite qualifications

Normally completion of Level 1 BA Communication Studies

This module is not approved as a discovery module


Research is how humans explore and answer questions, and design and research techniques are central to social research. To explore methods used routinely in media and communication research, the module combines brief required readings, discussion about readings explaining the tools and about examples of how researchers apply them, independent practical exercises and co-teaching to build students’ skills, and intensive work at a field site to deepen their understanding. The module provides a mid-term opportunity to reflect on their first-hand knowledge of the merits, usefulness, and limitations of different research methods in an initial essay and culminates in a research report of their independent practical fieldwork.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module students should be able to:
1. Identify and describe a range of research methods used in media and communications study.
2. Devise a media and communications research question
3. Apply at least one methodology to address a media and communications research question
4. Critique research projects in terms of ethics and methodology
5. Communicate research findings in a range of styles


Lectures are interactive introductions to the key issues, ethics, and methods of research in communication studies. Seminars offer opportunities to practice methods from the lectures and to debate the pros, cons, and implications of different techniques by discussing key readings. Students complete brief required readings before each lecture and deeper seminar readings. Weekly assignments prepare them to do field work, find interesting results, analyse what they find, and produce a research essay.

Activities throughout the semester encourage the development of skills and prepare students for the assessments. To build skills with at least one method, students create teams to study readings in a method. Students with different methods form groups to identify potential fieldwork sites; establish a working relationship based on informed consent; conduct fieldwork and take field notes; and identify a software package to use for analysing notes. Students prepare the first essay while conducting fieldwork and the second essay following completion of fieldwork, presenting results to field site members for feedback.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours179.00
Total Contact hours21.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students are required to spend an estimated 8 hours per week on seminar preparation. The remaining private study time should be dedicated to field research and preparing and writing the essays.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Attendance will be monitored at lectures and seminars. Office hours will be available for students to come and discuss the module and assessment (e.g. essay plans) throughout the semester. Students will submit an assessed essay mid-semester to reflect on the fieldwork experience, which will help prepare them for reporting research results about their fieldwork site in the second essay.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 1500 - 2000 words30.00
Essay1 x 3,500 - 4000 words70.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 23/02/2017


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