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MPhil in Sociology (The Sociology of Media and Culture)

Course Description

The MPhil in Sociology of Media and Culture pathway provides students with the opportunity to study the nature and transformation of media and cultural forms at an advanced level. The programme gives students a firm grounding in the theoretical and empirical analysis of media and culture and enables them to study particular media and cultural forms in depth, examining their transformations over time and their impact on other aspects of social and political life. The programme consists of 4 components:

1. Theories of Culture and Media: all students taking this programme will be expected to follow this course of lectures that will cover some of the major theoretical contributions to the study of media and culture, ranging from Adorno and Habermas to Bourdieu and Becker and from medium theory to Castells and more recent theoretical work on new media and the internet. Students are also strongly encouraged to follow the course of lectures on social theory.

2. Substantive modules: there will be at least three core substantive modules taught by Prof John Thompson, Prof Patrick Baert and Dr Ella McPherson. The modules will be research-led and will reflect the research being undertaken by members of the Department. The content of specific modules may vary from year to year but topics covered will typically include the nature of the digital revolution and its impact on the media and creative industries; the changing nature of news and journalism in the digital age; the role of new media in the development of social movements and new forms of political mobilization and protest; the uses of social media and the internet and their impact on everyday life and culture; the role of ideas, intellectuals and media forms in processes of social and political change. Students in this programme will be expected to take at least three of these modules; they may also take the fourth module in this programme, or they may substitute one of these modules with a module taken from another MPhil programme offered by the Department (Modern Society and Global Transformations, Political and Economic Sociology, Sociology of Reproduction).

3. Research Methods: all students will take a course on research methods which includes sessions on philosophical issues in the social sciences; research design; data collection and analysis in relation to quantitative and qualitative methods; reflection on research ethics and practice; library and computer skills.

4. Dissertation: all students will write a dissertation on a topic of their choice that allows for theoretically informed empirical analysis of some aspect of media or culture in contemporary societies. The choice of dissertation topic is made in consultation with your supervisor, who can advise you on the suitability and feasibility of your proposed research and on research design. A dissertation workshop provides the opportunity to present aspects of your dissertation work and to receive constructive feedback from course teachers and fellow students.

See the website http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/hssompsmc

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the programme students should have:

- an advanced understanding of current sociological research in selected topics;
- skills necessary to conduct independent social research and experience in their use;
- an ability to apply and develop modern social theory with respect to empirical topics;
- a deeper understanding of their chosen specialist area, including command of the literature and current research;
- the ability to situate their own research within current developments in the field.


The course offers teaching on Social Theory, Substantive modules and Research Methods. Students work towards a written dissertation supported by supervisions and a dissertation workshop.

Students receive written feedback on each essay and the dissertation. Feedback is also given during the dissertation workshop on the direction and progress of the dissertation research.


Students write a dissertation of not less than 15,000 and not more than 20,000 words on a subject approved by the Degree Committee.

Students write one methods essay of not less than 2,500 and not more than 3,000 words [or prescribed course work] and two substantive essays of not less than 4,000 and not more than 5,000 words.


Students are encouraged to proceed to the Faculty's PhD programme, provided they reach a high level of achievement in all parts of the course. MPhil students who would like to continue to the PhD would normally need to have a final mark of at least 70% overall and 70% on the dissertation.

How to apply: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying

Funding Opportunities

The Department of Sociology holds ESRC funding awards. Sociology is a recognised Doctoral Training Centre pathway toward a PhD. Therefore candidates for the MPhil in Sociology (Media and Culture) can apply for 1+3 ESRC funding.

General Funding Opportunities http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/funding

Visit the MPhil in Sociology (The Sociology of Media and Culture) page on the University of Cambridge website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK High II.i Honours Degree. We require a previous academic background in sociology or related subject areas such as politics and economics. This course is not suitable for people new to the discipline.

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