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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

HECS5149M Media Depictions of Mental Health (Online)

15 creditsClass Size: 25

If you are applying for a stand-alone Masters level module please note you must meet either the general University entry criteria or the specific module pre-requisite for this level of study.

Module manager: Gary Morris

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

Certificated evidence of ability to study at level M

This module is mutually exclusive with

HECS2044Mental Health Issues and the Media
HECS3066Mental Health Issues and the Media
HECS3189Media Depictions of Mental Health (Online)

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This online module provides students with opportunities to reflect upon the ways in which mental health issues are portrayed through the media. The essence of this module being an exploration of how people's perceptions are influenced and attitudes shaped through exposure to various media products. These products are far-ranging and cover both factual and fictional sources, with a significant exploration of film, television, newspapers, magazines, literature and the Internet. Students will be encouraged to utilise psychological and sociological theory as frameworks for analysing specific media products and the type of message being portrayed. In particular, these will be examined in terms of the positive or negative values being attributed. On the positive side core issues relate to health promotion and an enhanced understanding and acceptance of mental health issues. This can be seen through more sensitive and informed media portrayals, complemented by various National/Local initiatives. On the negative side a predominant feature is the association between "madness" and violence and the recurring depiction of stigma and labelling. The module content is delivered wholly through online tutorial sessions and students must have access to appropriate computer facilities (Internet and audio function). Students from a wide variety of backgrounds both professional and non-professional are welcome.


This module presents learners with opportunities to examine the differing types of messages portrayed by the media concerning mental health issues. It engages learners with a range of influences governing media content and the resultant reception by those accessing it. There are many opportunities within this module to explore negative, stigmatising depictions and their impact upon societal attitudes concerning mental illness. This is countered by a reflection upon health promotion strategies employed by selected individuals and groups and carried by a range of media products.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
(i) Critically analyse and synthesise the portrayal of mental health issues through a selected media source.
(ii) Demonstrate sustained depth of understanding as to the links between societal demand and media portrayals of mental health issues.
(iii) Review and synthesise the link between social exclusion and media representation.
(iv) Critically analyse the extent to which stigma and labelling remain headlined through media images.
(v) Systematically challenge and explore how mental health issues are positively promoted through a range of media sources.
(vi) Critically reflect upon and show insightful understanding as to their attitudes and beliefs may be influenced by media messages that focus upon mental health issues.

Skills outcomes
Critical analysis, synthesis and evaluation, reflection, depth of understanding of how mental health is represented by the media, Inter-agency working, data collection and data analysis skills and ability to work collaboratively with colleagues.


The core content of this module is delivered online and students hoping to access this module must have access to the Internet and facilities for playing video clips. The aim of this module is to analyse the impact that media depictions have upon the student's attitudes and beliefs regarding mental health issues. This includes an exploration of a diverse range of sources including both fictional and factual representations. Examples of fictional sources will include television, literature and film whilst the factual sources include user-centred publications, tabloid and broadsheet reporting, internet sites and governmental reports. Considerations will be given to the perpetuation within media sources of stigma and labelling and how they have become associated with mental health issues. There will be a balanced approach which will address both positive and negative reporting which influences present thinking. Shared learning and critical reflection will promote awareness and provide opportunities for self-appraisal.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning92.0018.00
Private study hours128.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

40 hours - private study/independent learning includes assignment preparation
28 hours - personal reflection
60 hours - reading and online tutorial reflection

Teaching is carried out predominantly through the independent access to pre-prepared online sessions. There are 9 tutorial sessions in total with material geared towards duration of 2 hours each.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Ongoing monitoring of student progress is done session by session reviewing student responses to designated questions at the end of each online tutorial. Further monitoring is carried out through tutorial contact both within 2 designated dates and at other times required by individual students. This contact can be either face-face or via e-mail or telephone access.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000 words100.00
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: 29/04/2022 15:42:08


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