The programme has 3 different pathways.
Pathway 1: Theory Pathway, is comprised of one 30 credit compulsory module, one 30 credit recommended option and options to total 60 credits and the dissertation.
Pathway 2: Theory and Practice Pathway (Image Making), is comprised of two compulsory modules, options to total 30 credits, digital media practice and the practice/theory project.
Pathway 3: Theory and Practice Pathway (Critical Computing) is comprised of two compulsory modules, one option to total 30 credits, digital media practice and the practice/theory project.
Digital Media: Critical Perspectives
Digital Media: Critical Perspectives
This is the first core module in the Digital Media: Technology and Cultural Form MA programme and it offers a range of critical perspectives on the concept of 'new' or digital media. By drawing on the history, sociology and anthropology of the media, our aim is to offer a fully contextualised analysis of media technologies such as the Internet, the mobile phone, television, photography and film which actively rejects technologically deterministic perspectives.
The module also incorporates critical explorations of contemporary concepts such as the information society, convergence, virtuality and hypertextuality seeking to establish a sense of historical continuity in the development of media technologies and their role in society which nevertheless does not foreclose on the possibility of change. To this end, we will introduce questions about the extent to which digital media signal a transformation in power, politics and subjectivity. These questions will be examined in more detail in the second core module.
Finally, the module will examine digital media in their role as technological objects which have uses and meanings beyond those of the image or text and particular to societies at a given point in history.
Topics discussed on the module will include:
- What is 'new media'?
- Historicising 'new media'
- Information society
- Convergence, Regulation and 'New Media'
- Narrative and Hypertext
- Image as information: digital photography
- Image as information (digital film)
- New Media Languages
- The Uses and Meanings of 'Technological Objects'
By the end of the module you should be able to:
Critically evaluate contemporary conceptualisations of, and debates on 'new' or digital media by drawing on historical, sociological and/or anthropological perspectives demonstrate skills in contextual analysis which can be applied to a range of media technologies debate and articulate key concepts associated with digital media such as convergence, virtuality and hypertextuality examine digital media in their role as technological objects as well as images and texts, drawing out the implications of this perspective for digital media theory.
Additional compulsory modules are pathway-specific. Please see the "Programme overview" section below for more information.
We offer a wide range of option modules each year. Please see our list of modules that are currently available for more information.
Seen take-home paper; essays; dissertation or practice/theory project and other production work for Image Making and Critical Computing.
This is an exciting programme which offers a critical, contextual and practical approach to digital media and technology. It problematises approaches to the 'new' media in academic and professional debate, especially those that overemphasise the potential for radical social change led by a homogenised technology itself.
The programme is defined by its resistance to technological determinism and its insistence on the importance of addressing the social and historical contexts within which a range of media technologies are employed. In order to provide a contextual framework and facilitate the conceptualisation of digital media and technologies as fully cultural forms and processes, the programme will draw on a range of disciplines including: media and cultural studies, sociology, anthropology and philosophy. However, the programme will remain focused on key contemporary concerns about the potential role of digital media in society and on refiguring the contours of the 'new' media debate.
The programme offers three pathways:
Pathway 1 addresses central theoretical and conceptual concerns relating to digital media.
Pathway 2 combines theoretical analysis and practical work, offering students the opportunity to explore new media theories and concepts in image making. This pathway is primarily aimed at students who already have some practical experience. It is meant to appeal to media industry professionals who are keen to reflect critically on their practice within a structured learning environment and graduates of practice-based courses.
Pathway 3 also combines theoretical analysis and practical work, offering students the opportunity to explore new media theories and concepts in critical computing. No advanced prior knowledge of computation is required, but a willingness to learn about technology and media on a theoretical and practical level is.
The first compulsory module, shared by all pathways, is Digital Media: Critical Perspectives and this is taught in a small workshop format in the Autumn term. This module functions as a foundation for the second compulsory module and offers students a map of the key debates in digital media. The module is taught in ten two-hour workshop sessions, and is supported by the provision of one-to-one tutorials.
Then there is a cluster of three modules, all dealing with different aspects of digital media. It includes: Digital Culture: Critical Perspectives; Software Studies; and Photography and After. Pathway 1 (Theory) students must choose at least one of these three modules. Pathway 2 students must take Photography and After as a compulsory module. Pathway 3 students must take Software Studies as a compulsory module.
Digital Culture: Critical Perspectives takes examples from science fiction, digital architecture, software and art to explore the possibility of the critique of technology today, at a time when intelligent machines cannot be seen as simply passive instruments but are rather performative of ideas, perceptions and actions. Software Studies combines approaches from the arts, humanities and social sciences with those drawn from computing in order to develop a creative and critical approach to the theories and practices of computation. Photography and After studies the ubiquity of the photographic medium today, while also exploring photography's kinship with other media as well as its transformation towards various post-photographic practices in which the maker and/or the audience also include nonhuman agents (CGI, photogrammetry, machine vision).
Students are required to take options from the lists provided by the Department of Media, Communications, and Cultural Studies. Each student's options will be discussed with the programme convenor in order to ensure that the balance of subject-specific topics is appropriate for the individual concerned. Option modules are taught primarily through lectures, seminars and tutorials, and take place in the Autumn or Spring terms.
All students are required to produce either a 12,000 word dissertation on a topic agreed by the student and supervisor, or a practice/theory project. The length of the practical element is dependent on the media and form used, and will be agreed on in advance with the supervisor. Students undertaking the practice/theory project will also be expected to submit a 3-4,000 word analysis of their practice which locates it within the theoretical debates explored in the MA as a whole. This essay may be presented as a separate document or as an integral part of the project depending on the nature of the project, and subject to agreement with both theory and practice supervisors.
The programme's subject specific learning outcomes require students to analyse and contextualise developments in digital media and technology with reference to key debates in the history, sociology, anthropology and philosophy of the media. Students who opt for one of the practice/theory pathways will also be required to produce material of publishable standard and to evaluate the ways in which theoretical and practical insights intersect. All students will develop a wide range of transferable qualities and skills necessary for employment in related or unrelated areas. These are described by the Quality Assurance Agency as: 'the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility, decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations, and the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development'.
By the end of the programme students will be able to:
- Map and critically evaluate key debates in the field of new media
- Analyse and contextualise current and future developments in digital media and technology
- Evaluate and articulate key historical, sociological, anthropological and philosophical approaches to the study of digital media and technology
- Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of at least four differing areas of inquiry
- Demonstrate an advanced level of conceptual knowledge and (where relevant) practical skill appropriate for a sustained piece of work in the field
- Prepare and deliver clearly argued and informed work
- Locate, retrieve and present relevant information for a specific project
- Manage a complex array of competing demands and work effectively to a deadline
- Work resourcefully and independently
- Think critically and/or work practically within a given context
Download the programme specification. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.
Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.
For 2021-22 and 2020–21, we have made some changes to how the teaching and assessment of certain programmes are delivered. To check what changes affect this programme, please visit the programme changes page.