If recent years have shown anything, it's that social media is changing the relationship between citizens and the state, whilst enabling others to more effectively reach and engage with audiences on a commercial level. Either way, it’s clear that there are opportunities for social media professionals to make significant impacts in their rapidly growing field, innovate and shape practice.
Explore How Business and Non-Profits Can Utilise Social Media: The opportunities are many. On the one hand, established businesses are seeking to co-opt the tools of social media and use them for commercial gain. Many organisations now employ teams of social media managers, bloggers and specialist digital marketing professionals; jobs that didn't exist a decade ago. On the other hand, third sector organisations are making use of these tools to build complex and conversational communication strategies for minimal cost. Both commercial and non-commercial organisations need to deepen their understanding of how social media can support their aims.
Become a Social Media Expert: On the MA Social Media, at Birmingham School of Media or by distance-learning, you will explore the techniques of social media, consider the development and direction of social media as a creative industry, and will contribute new research and knowledge to the field. For students studying on-campus, Birmingham has a thriving social media scene with strong links to the course, and this scene is fast becoming an industry. It is therefore wholly appropriate that this programme should be based within Birmingham School of Media, where students will have access to a peer group and active community of social media practitioners.
Applicants should have a first degree or equivalent at 2:1, or above, or have considerable experience in a related field and be able to demonstrate outstanding ability and potential. Applicants should have sound academic skills (research, writing, and presentation), an interest in ideas and their application and some basic competence in IT skills (word-processing, internet activities and so on). Above all, candidates for this exciting and innovative course need to have an inquiring mind, an aptitude for researching, sharing and communicating ideas and a desire to develop as an independent and self-motivated thinker.
Our close links with business and the professions mean that our courses are always relevant, up-to-date and meet the exact needs of the current marketplace. Wherever possible, we involve employers in planning the curriculum, while many of our lecturers come from and maintain their links with industry, ensuring they are up to speed with the latest developments. Employability will be an integral outcome of your studies.
Employment Opportunities: A wide range of organisations and businesses now employ individuals to help them develop effective social media strategies for customer or citizen engagement. Previous graduates have found work in such roles within both the private and public sector. Others have gone on to set up businesses or worked as social media consultants. Other avenues that graduates may pursue include developing innovative and low cost communication strategies for third sector organisations using social media tools; developing innovative and alternative media projects; and working with existing mainstream media organisations as they develop social media strategies. It is also possible for successful graduates to enhance their skills by contributing to the development of new professional practice in PR, marketing communications and web design. They might also wish to continue developing a scholarly interest in social media as part of a further research degree.
Placements: The MA has a strong thread of individual personal development planning, supporting students’ studies and enhancing an individual’s career ambitions. Students are expected to undertake a work placement/internship with an organisation that uses social media or is exploring social media. This will enable students to become engaged as researchers within the work place and enable them to find ways in which their skills and learning can be applied outside of academia. The Birmingham School of Media has a number of close contacts in the creative and cultural sector, regionally, nationally and internationally, which will aid in finding appropriate placements and exploring work in these industries.
Further Studies: For anyone interested in taking their research interests forward into an MPhil or PhD speak to the course director about your particular area of expertise.
The Social Media MA draws upon the expertise of our wide range of practitioners within the Birmingham School of Media and its research and production units (Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, Interactive Cultures, New Technology Institute). Our established and innovative work with a wide range of partners in the creative industries, arts organisations and local authorities inform class work and the directions of individual scholarship. The taught postgraduate phase of the course comprises modules that explore social media from a cultural studies perspective and explore political economy, social enterprise and social media organisations. The Masters component of the course entails a substantial piece of independent study and the creation of either a social media production project or an original piece of research in the form of a 15,000-word dissertation. The MA has a strong thread of individual personal development planning, supporting your studies and enhancing your career ambitions. To this end you will engage in live projects for clients and be expected to work at a professional level. The Birmingham School of Media has a variety of strong contacts in the creative and cultural sector, regionally, nationally and internationally which will aid in finding appropriate projects and exploring work in these industries.
On Campus: For on-campus students, teaching takes place in small groups, with a mixture of lectures, seminars, research workshops, presentations and field-trips. In exploring and innovating in research in social media you will work with other students and engage with professional practitioners, interacting and disseminating ideas through blogs and social media platforms as well as at networking events.
Distance Learning: For distance-learning students, lectures will be replaced with audio slide shows, recordings of a lecture, or live-streamed lectures which cover the same material. These will often be identical to those delivered to students with attendance.
Access to your tutors for tutorials will be via audio-visual communication technologies such as Skype and will be further supported by email. In exploring and innovating in research in social media you will engage with professional practitioners, interacting and disseminating ideas through, blogs and social media platforms as well as at networking events.
Social Media as Culture (30 credits): This theory module explores the current state of academic knowledge and debates around the emergence of social media and provides you with a systematic understanding of the approaches to studying social media culture and its social and cultural role and character. You will participate in external networking and conference events and produce blogs that engage with key debates about the culture of social media. At the end of this module you will be able to employ established theoretical frameworks and methodologies in order to advance new insights into practice and meaning.
Enterprise (30 credits) / Online Enterprise and Innovation (30 credits): By focusing on a spirit of entrepreneurship (or entrepreneurship) we will encourage you to take ownership of your own personal professional development. You will identify industry challenges appropriate to your award, and turn them into opportunities for you to enhance your independence, confidence, networking capacity and strategic thinking. This will encourage you to become a self-reflexive creative worker.
Social Media as Practice (30 credits): This production module explores social media as an area of media practice in social enterprise, commercial, public and personal areas. You will consider the different areas of media, cultural and creative production that come under the auspices of social media and explore the production practices and skills that these involve. You will develop your own professional practice through a range of production activities. At the end of this module you will be able to analyse, deliver and evaluate innovative social media projects.
Production Lab or Research Methods (30 credits): These modules prepare you for MA by Practice or MA by Dissertation, depending upon the focus of your studies. Both draw upon other taught modules which either mapped out the current state of academic knowledge in the field, or established professional conventions and explored current industry challenges. You will be provided with the opportunity to innovate, and to apply and experiment with a range of production skills appropriate to your award, supported by a systematic exploration of methods for research and production development.
MA by Practice or MA by Dissertation (60 Credits): Depending upon the focus of your studies, you will complete your award with either an original contribution to scholarship in the MA by Dissertation or through the origination, execution and delivery of an individual and extended practice-based professional project at the forefront of your field.
You will develop and consolidate your mastery of key skills, knowledge of and engagement with current opportunities in the field of production or academic enquiry. These modules encourage and test skills of initiative and independent practice and are conducted largely outside of the classroom with support from a tutor.
Assessments usually emphasise scholarly or professional practice through which the key learning objectives are tested. Three weeks are set aside for assessment work.
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