MA in Social Media, Culture and Society

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

Program Description

MA in Social Media, Culture and Society

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

The MA in Social Media, Culture and Society offers a flexible interdisciplinary exploration of key contemporary developments in the networked digital media environment. It will benefit those seeking to develop their understanding of contemporary communication and its societal, political, regulatory, industrial and cultural contexts.

The MA in Social Media, Culture and Society provides students with the opportunity to focus at postgraduate level on:

  • Studying the ways in which social media and the Internet shape and are shaped by social, economic, political, technological and cultural factors, in order to equip students to become critical research-oriented social media experts.
  • Developing reflective and critical insights into how social media and the internet are used in multiple contexts in society, and into which roles social media can play in various forms of organisations that are situated in these societal contexts. The aim is that students are equipped to become reflective and critical social media practitioners.
  • Gaining in-depth knowledge and understanding of the major debates about the social and cultural roles of social media and the Internet.
  • Acquiring advanced knowledge and understanding of the key categories, theories, approaches and models of social media's and the Internet's roles in and impacts on society and human practices.
  • Obtaining advanced insights into practical activity and practice-based work that relate to how social media and the Internet work and which implications they have for social and cultural practices.

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

Dissertation Module

A taught module and group workshops in the first semester will guide you in conducting a major piece of independent research or creating a theoretically inspired social media artefact. 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 an 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 social media or a social media artefact accompanied by a written report of approximately 7,000 words, in which you critically reflect on your social media project and ground it in relevant theory.

Social Media: Creativity, Sharing, Visibility

This module provides you with a theoretical understanding of the development, significance and contemporary uses of social media. It fosters both critical analysis and reflective practice in the networked digital media environment. You will critically engage with key ideas of creativity, sharing and visibility in social media and will participate in creative and reflective practice using leading social media tools and platforms.

Option modules

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.

Two elective modules from two topical clusters (any combination of modules is applicable):

  • Theory and Global Political Economy of Media and Communication
  • Media Politics, Regulation and Business Strategies.


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.

Political Economy of Communication

This module will introduce you 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.

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.


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 communications policies, and their dynamic interaction at the national and international level.

Technology and Communications 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 of markets.

Semester two core module

Critical Theory of Social Media and the Internet

This module provides an overview of the critical and theoretical analysis of how the internet and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, WikiLeaks, file sharing, blogs etc) shape and impact on society, the economy and politics, and how power structures in society shape the internet and social media.

Option modules

Two elective modules from two topical clusters (any combination of modules is applicable):

  • Media Politics, Regulation and Business Strategies
  • Media, Culture and Everyday Life.


Development and Communications Policy

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 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.

Media, Activism and Censorship

The module critically investigates the relationship between media, activism and censorship. It 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.


Media Audiences

This module begins with an overview of media audiences and goes on to analyse audiences and media institutions, passive/active audiences, media influence and effects, and ethnography and media audiences. The second part of the module is devoted to discussions of media and identity, fans, diasporas and new media audiences.

Sociology of News

A critical study of the news media in the context of current society; this module examines different aspects of how news is created, disseminated and consumed.

Understanding and Managing Diversity in the Media

This module looks at the various ways in which our understanding of diversity and difference has impacted on the way in which media models, institutions and professionals engage with social and cultural diversity. It focuses on different national media policy frameworks and media cultures, it examines the meaning of the melting pot, cultural mosaic and salad bowl metaphors and their operationalisation by the media, and looks at various media institutions and their responses to social diversity. This module is offered as an option in the dissertation route.

Another 20 Credit Level 7 module for which the student meets the prerequisites and gains the permission of the course leader(s). The selected module must fit with your timetable and the course’s goals.

This MA is organised in the environment of the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI) and its Centre for Social Media Research. CAMRI is a world-leading research centre that studies the role of media and communication in society. It has become known as the Westminster school of critical media and communication research. The analysis of social media, culture and society is one of its research specialisms. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), 42.2 percent of CAMRI’s research was classified as world-leading and 37.5 percent as internationally excellent, which makes it one of Britain’s four leading media and communication research institutions.

Associated careers

Students obtain skills to work as social media experts, either as social media and Internet researchers or as social media professionals in various types of organisations.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated January 29, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
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1 - 5 years
Part time
Full time
7,500 GBP
Home/EU: £7,500 - Overseas: £14,500
United Kingdom - London, England
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Contact school
United Kingdom - London, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info