MA in Media and Development

University of Westminster - Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design

Program Description

MA in Media and Development

University of Westminster - Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design

The Media and Development MA is an interdisciplinary course that teaches main theories, concepts, case studies and practical media skills around the theme of media and development and its implications for less developed countries. The course will provide you with a unique blend of theory and practice teaching, aimed at deepening your knowledge of the history of communications within the development process of emerging economies. It will critically evaluate the impact of international and regional institutions from a critical political economy perspective. Teaching by academic staff, guest lecturers and other carefully selected staff from development organisations will provide you with an overview of the policies, actions and impact of state and non-state institutions within the area of communication media and development.

A distinctive feature is its emphasis on the practical role of communication media in development. You will participate in media production workshops and take part in our internship programme, offered in partnership with media and development organisations in London. As part of the work experience module, students participate in an extensive NGOs and media seminar series featuring experts and panel discussions. The work placement programme is in line with the University of Westminster’s strategy of nurturing of the critical practitioner.

The course team is led by Dr Winston Mano and includes Professor Daya Thussu, Professor Christian Fuchs, Professor David Gauntlett, Professor Naomi Sakr, Dr Anthony McNicholas, Dr Xin Xin, Dr Anastasia Kavada, Dr Maria Michalis, Dr Roza Tsagarousianou, Dr Tarik Sabry, Paul Majendie, Geoffrey Davies and Michaela O’Brien. Visiting Lecturers include Jackie Davies, founder and Director of the Communication and Development Network (C4D) (, a community of professionals working in communication for development. As a peer network, the C4D Network is aimed at communication for development practitioners plus allied development workers, donors, academics and communication experts from the BBC, UN and major development organisations. The joining criterion is an engagement in communication for development - either professionally or through academia. Students in the Media and Development MA have the option to join the C4D network and each can do a fellowship/internship with the network during the course.

Course content


The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course. For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the full course document.

Semester one core modules


A taught module and group workshops in the first semester will guide you in conducting a major piece of independent research. This module will be supplemented by individual supervisions beginning from the second semester. The aim is to give you a guided framework within which you can demonstrate your ability to carry out the advanced independent study and write it up in the form of a dissertation. The dissertation is a 15,000-word piece of original research on a topic agreed with your supervisor and related to the political, economic, cultural and/or sociological factors which shape the practices and outcomes of mass media, including media texts and the audience reception of them.

Theories of Communication

The module is intentionally eclectic. You will cover (in a loosely historical way) the arguments, advantages and problems of the main sociological, cultural and psychological theories about the media. It aims to provide a comprehensive introduction to the most important ways of approaching the fundamental issues posed by the relationships between the media of communication and social and economic life. It will also enable you to understand the problems posed by different intellectual traditions and to place those theories in their proper contexts.

Theories of Development

This module focuses on different theories and approaches to development. It considers key development theories and approaches such as modernisation, dependency and neoliberalism and will provide you with an opportunity to critically assess their relevance to specific contexts in developing countries.

Option modules

Approaches to Social and Cultural Diversity

The module examines the various theoretical attempts to make sense and deal intellectually with social and cultural diversity, from assimilationism to liberal universalism, integration theories, liberal multiculturalism and the various strands of multiculturalism. It examines the concepts of pluralism, universalism, cosmopolitanism, tolerance and respect as they have developed in various theoretical contexts and assesses their implications in contemporary politics and culture.

Global Media

This module examines key developments in the media and communications industries associated with the logic of globalisation. You will explore the complex nature of the globalisation process, focus on the emergence of both supra-national and sub-national developments and explore the relationship between new contexts of production and questions of collective culture and identity.

Media Production Skills

The module gives students a basic understanding of the structures and practical abilities needed in news journalism. They will develop individual skills in the study, research and writing and team skills in designing and writing for the web. The module aims to enable you to develop a critical understanding of how print, radio and TV operate; develop news-writing techniques for different media platforms; learn individual and team skills across different media platforms; acquire knowledge of ethical considerations faced by journalists, and design and develop a website in teams.

Political Analysis of Communications Policy

As international regimes and national regulation become increasingly important in the creation and delivery of communications, it becomes necessary to understand how the two levels interact. This module will introduce you to those theories of policy-making and international relations which provide tools for the analysis of communication policies, and their dynamic interaction at the national and international level.

Political Economy of Communication

This module introduces students to the political economy approach to analysing the structure and performance of communication industries in capitalist economies. It identifies distinctive economic features of media and relates these to trends in the organisation of specific media industries, taking account of ways in which the economics of media have been affected by the spread of digital technologies.

Reporting Diversity: Migration, Race, Ethnicity

This module introduces the students to key theoretical perspectives on the cultural production and representation of race, ethnicity and migrant and discusses the role of the media and journalistic practice in such processes. It provides a context for critical thinking and discussion about multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural issues associated with contemporary news media. You will study and research the stereotypes of people of colour, various ethnic groups, refugees and immigrant communities in the mainstream news media. The module will look at the influence, responsibility, and power of journalism in reporting diversity issues. The purpose of this module is to encourage student journalists to see, look at, report and reflect on the society they live in.

Study Skills (no credits) If your first language is not English, or you have no experience of the UK education system, you will benefit from this module. You will be taken through the process of producing a piece of written work, from note taking to editing, so as to enable you to produce written work in accordance with current UK academic standards and practices.

Technology and Communication Policy

This module will introduce you to a range of broadcasting and telecommunications technologies, enabling you to assess the economic and political issues surrounding each technology. Topics covered include capital investment in networks, how and why technologies change, strategic interests and communications, and substitutable technologies and the creation markets.

Semester two core modules

Media Work Experience

Students will be encouraged to take work experience during the course. With the number of charities and NGOs dealing with development in London, we expect students will get a placement with an organisation and we envisage them working in a communications role. Students in the media and development MA have the option to join the C4D network and each can do a fellowship/internship with the network during the course.

Political Economy of Communication

The aims of this module are to provide you with a theoretical overview of the concept of ‘development’, and the opportunity to consider how it relates to empirical experience in communications in small and developing countries. You will be able to analyse the role of multilateral and bilateral agencies, NGOs, public service broadcasting and to compare the experiences of a range of countries in attempting to retain cultural autonomy, in developing their own communications technologies and policies, in democratisation, and in exporting mass media content. This module also critically discusses Chinese intervention in communication and development in Africa.

Option modules

Approaches to Media and Communication Research

This module will introduce you to the main methods of communication research. We shall look at how to undertake selective quantitative and qualitative methods, understanding and exploring the different stages of the social science research process, from a definition of a research hypothesis to data collection and analysis. We shall also look at the theoretical reasoning behind different methodological approaches to media and society, in particular, the politics of social research and diversity issues.

Media Business Strategy

This module explores the challenges facing media organisations in the fields of strategy and innovation. It addresses the contextual nature of strategy formation, identifies and analyses key drivers of change within media industries, and examines the application of structured methods of planning in media product and service development. The module applies management concepts and tools to business and strategic challenges confronting public and private media enterprises across the globe.

Media, Activism and Censorship

This module offers a critical assessment of the role of media in political mobilisation, social movements, dissent, wars, conflicts, elections, and political and social crises. The module considers the impact of different forms of censorship and regulation on social, political and cultural expression in the media. It also looks at the impact of the internet and new means of transparency and communications on journalism and activism in a range of circumstances from secure democracies through different kinds of political systems.

Planning Campaign Communications

Campaigning in the last century saw the mobilisation of large numbers of people to bring about political and social change. The political landscape has changed and the ways to influence it have grown. Major changes in society and technology now enable concerned citizens from around the world to come together online and take action on issues that concern them. Is there still a role for civil society organisations in this new environment or is online activism mapping out a new model for social change? Campaigning non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are, in some areas, the natural voice of dissent, but they too run the risk of being seen as part of the establishment. As trust in institutions declines, how can NGOs maintain their influence and change their techniques to deliver successful campaigns? What does the new political and campaigning landscape look like, what are the current techniques and how can you decide which is the best technique to use for your campaign?

Policies for Digital Convergence

The module studies digital convergence and the role of policy and regulation in facilitating and controlling that process. The focus is on Internet-related policy debates and concepts drawing mostly on developments in the USA, the European Union and the UK but with a critical awareness of the issues facing developing transitional and small countries. It critically assesses competing arguments concerning the interplay between policy and technology and implications for market structures and business models, as appropriate.

Reporting Diversity: Sexuality, Age, Disability

This module will present information for critical thinking and discussion about media representation of age, gender, sexual orientation and disability. The module will discuss ways of improving journalism practice in order to bridge social and cultural divisions. You will study and research the stereotypes of youth and the elderly, men and women, gay and lesbian communities and people with disabilities. The course will look at the influence, responsibility, and power of journalism in reporting these.

Reporting Faith

This module presents and critically evaluates debates around social and faith/religious diversity, awareness of the issues surrounding the reporting of faith and faith communities in their societies. Through a series of lectures and workshops/seminars, it will encourage you to reflect on the various aspects of media and journalism practice in relation to religion and faith.

Sociology of News

You will examine both theoretically and empirically different aspects of the new creation, dissemination and reception processes. The module will look at the relevance of different traditions in mass media research to the study of news and will be based on a number of case studies. The module will focus mainly on contemporary practices, in both print and electronic media, but attention to historical and conceptual perspectives will also be given.

Associated Careers

The Media and Development MA is suitable for you if you would value an opportunity to be able to reflect critically on the role of media in the process of development and learn practical skills. The course will be of interest to you if you have a background in working for governmental, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organisations, and a range of international business organisations, while at the same time providing appropriate preparation for those seeking employment in such fields or, indeed, wanting to prepare for further studies for higher a higher degree, including a PhD.

While the majority of our graduates will return to more senior posts with improved skills, knowledge and qualifications gained from their year with us, we would expect them to apply for jobs at development organisations such as Internews, BBC Media Action, Oxfam, Save the Children, Red Cross, ActionAid, Panos, DfiD, Intermedia, Institute of War and Peace, Christian Aid, WACC, OneWorld and War on Want.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated January 26, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
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1 year
Full time
7,500 GBP
Home/EU: £7,500 - Overseas: £14,500
United Kingdom - London, England
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United Kingdom - London, England
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