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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

COMM2950 Media, Power and Social Justice

20 creditsClass Size: 106

Module manager: Dr Leslie Meier

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Module replaces

COMM2135 Critical Theories of Media

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module examines key topics and scholarly debates regarding media, power, and social justice, adopting an approach founded in critical theories and perspectives. It offers a thorough examination of key contributions of the Frankfurt School, such as Adorno and Horkheimer’s ‘culture industry’ thesis and the work of Walter Benjamin, and also considers alternative analytic frameworks that foreground social justice issues, such as intersectionality and the ‘capability approach’. Media examples from film, popular music, advertising, television, and/or digital media will be used to critically examine the power of media and roles they assume in culture and society, taking into consideration the implications for social justice.


The purpose of this module is to:
• Facilitate understanding of critical theories of media and society, building on the Frankfurt School and more contemporary intellectual traditions and analytical frameworks
• Investigate the social, cultural, political, and economic roles assumed by media, considering how communicative participation, representation, and social equality are enabled and enriched, and constrained and compromised
• Evaluate debates about media, capitalism, and corporate power; advertising, entertainment, and consumer society; the ‘culture industry’; media, inequality, and justice; media and ‘race’/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and intersections between these and other identities; and media and ecological crisis
• Interpret and critically analyse media technologies, texts, and industries
• Facilitate the development of independent research skills

Learning outcomes
1. Demonstrate comprehension and understanding of critical theories of media and society
2. Use critical theoretical and analytical frameworks for conceptualising the power of media and implications for social justice
3. Apply key concepts and critiques to contemporary media examples and socio-cultural phenomena, focusing on technologies, texts, and/or industries
4. Evaluate and critically engage with scholarly debates regarding media and corporate power, the ‘culture industry’ and its purported effects, and communicative participation and exclusion
5. Identify and concisely summarise scholarly arguments, critiques, and evidence/support in the form of a précis portfolio.
6. Present research and critical analysis in the form of an academic essay.

Skills outcomes
Critical thinking; textual analysis


This module will build on the critical theories and approaches developed by thinkers such as: Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, Erich Fromm, Leo Löwenthal, Nancy Fraser, Axel Honneth, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Patricia Hill Collins, Martha Nussbaum, Amartya Sen, Luc Boltanski, Laurent Thévenot, Rainer Forst, Hartmut Rosa, and contemporary critics of media and the environment.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours176.00
Total Contact hours24.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students will be expected to dedicate private study time to: reading required texts and completing précis assignments and other tasks in preparation for weekly lectures and seminars (approximately 90 hours, amounting to approximately 9 hours per week); and researching, preparing, and writing an essay (approximately 86 hours).

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

In-class discussion and weekly engagement with the précis assessment provide opportunities for formative feedback and the monitoring of students’ understanding and conceptual progress prior to the submission of the précis portfolio and the essay assignment. Students are required to bring the first draft of their 250-300 word weekly précis to the seminar at which the assigned reading will be discussed. After engaging in seminar activities and having the opportunity to ask questions, students then revise and improve their précis. These summaries also aid in essay preparation.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2500-300065.00
PortfolioPrécis portfolio: 250-300 words per précis x 8 (2000-2400). Marker selects and grades 4.35.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Resit instructions: For the essay, students will follow the assessment instructions provided in the module handbook or Minerva, but will choose a different topic. For the précis assessment, students will follow the assessment instructions in the module handbook or Minerva, and will resubmit a revised précis portfolio. Different précis than originally marked may be selected by the marker.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 24/05/2022 13:03:54


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