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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

COMM5235M Promotional Media, Culture and Society

30 creditsClass Size: 15

Module manager: Leslie Meier

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Module replaces


This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module examines the roles assumed by promotional media (advertising, branding, marketing, and public relations) in culture and society. It situates the study of promotional media within the field of media and communication studies, drawing on critical and theoretical approaches spanning from foundational critiques of consumer society to contemporary research on promotional culture. Key concepts and debates are explored in relation to a range of promotional forms and practices, including: print and/or television advertising, digital advertising and marketing, branding and branded content, and corporate public relations. Digital technology, the environment, sustainable consumption, and related grassroots communication and activism will be considered.Students will critically analyse the relationship between the promotional industries and professions and the media, politics, and commerce. They will assess historical, political, and economic factors that led to the rise of promotional media, and social and cultural factors that inform contemporary promotional practices, forms, and texts. Students will evaluate and apply module themes and concepts in relation to promotional campaigns and materials, and reflect on the implications of consumerism and promotionalism vis-à-vis the public interest, active citizenship, and everyday life.


The purpose of this module is to:
- Examine key critical and theoretical approaches to studying promotional media (advertising, branding, marketing, and public relations);
- Facilitate understanding of and critical reflection on the historical, political, and economic contexts that have shaped the rise of promotional media and associated industries and institutions;
- Investigate the social and cultural roles assumed by contemporary promotional media and practices;
- Interpret and critically analyse promotional texts, materials, and strategies;
- Reflect on the influence of promotion on social, cultural, and economic life.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Understand and apply critical perspectives on promotional media;
2. Explain and contextualise the power of the promotional industries vis-à-vis key historical, political, and economic factors;
3. Interpret and evaluate social and cultural aspects of promotion;
4. Use key concepts and theories to develop critical analysis of and present an argument about promotional campaigns;
5. Critically reflect on the impact of promotion within and beyond the economic realm, considering its influence on politics, citizenship, activism, and everyday life;
6. Present research and critical analysis in the form of an academic essay.

Skills outcomes
Students will develop the critical thinking and reading, academic writing and analysis, and independent research skills fundamental to MA level study in Media and Communication.


This module will cover topics such as:
- Critiques of promotional culture
- Critiques of consumer society
- Environmental critiques of consumerism and media consumption
- Textual analysis of advertisements
- Digital advertising and consumer data
- Branding and the power of global brands
- Branded content
- Public relations as two-way communication and/or stealth communication
- Public relations, journalism, and democracy
- Cause marketing and corporate social responsibility
- Grassroots communication and activism

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours276.00
Total Contact hours24.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Students will be expected to dedicate private study time to: reading assigned journal articles and book chapters in addition to texts found independently; preparing précis submissions connected to the core readings, which students will draw on in seminar discussions; and researching and writing an essay that involves critical analysis of promotional media.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will receive ongoing formative feedback via seminar activities, including discussions relevant to précis drafts.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2,400-3,000 words70.00
Report300-350 words per précis x 8 (2,400-2,800). Marker selects and grades 430.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Resits: For the essay, students will revise their first submission, addressing the marker feedback provided. If students did not submit a first attempt, they will follow the assessment instructions provided in the module handbook. For the précis assessment, students will submit eight different précis than originally marked. If students did not submit a first attempt, they will follow the assessment instructions provided in the module handbook.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:23:01


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