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Diversity and the Media (MA)

Course Description

This is an exciting and highly innovative course (developed in collaboration with the Media Diversity Institute) that seamlessly combines theory and modules providing or containing hands-on practical training in journalism or campaigning and public relations related to social and cultural diversity.

The course will give you the opportunity to study and research the main ways in which social scientists analyse the role of the mass media in the social construction, representation and understanding of difference and social diversity and get a critical understanding of the social and media structures and journalistic practices that impact upon these processes. It will also equip you with practical skills that will enable you to produce your own media product on a topic related to social and cultural diversity.

The course combines a portfolio of theory modules aimed to develop your knowledge and critical understanding of the processes of managing and making sense of cultural diversity, key issues in intercultural communication and of various aspects of the sociology of news with a number of practice-oriented modules intended to give you first hand experience in the practice of inclusive journalism.

Drawing upon this unique combination of rigorous theoretical engagement and specialist practical training, this course is designed to equip you with a comprehensive conceptual/theoretical grounding and the practical skills to engage in responsible media coverage of diversity, to practice culturally informed and inclusive journalism and to develop a career (whether practical, strategic, or research-based) involving understanding and responding to the challenges of social diversity.

Our teaching staff are highly experienced academics and journalism professionals with expertise in inclusive journalism.

Extra accreditation: In addition to your final degree, upon successful completion of certain module components or additional work you can be awarded study certificates by external accrediting bodies such as the Broadcast Journalism Training Council and Adobe.

Practical Work experience: In addition to their programme of studies, we work hard to ensure that MA Diversity and the Media students are offered opportunities to gain valuable experience with media and NGOs whose work is relevant to their programme of studies and enhances their employability after graduation. We have established partnerships with the Media Diversity Institute, TAG International Development and The Prisma/The Multicultural Newspaper which offer paid or unpaid internships that give our students the opportunity to work in the UK or overseas or to contribute to the production of media content. In the past our students have also gained experience by participating in the Pearson Diversity Summer Internship Programme and other similar schemes. We place particular importance to such opportunities as these help our students to build upon their academic and practical work and further develop the skills that will enable them to embark on their chosen careers.

Hands-on Media Training: In addition to the accredited curriculum, the MA includes a number of training sessions in the use of cameras, sound and editing as well as in the Adobe Creative Suite.

Course content

Two study routes to suit your future plans: You can choose one of two routes for the award: the Dissertation Route or a Practice Route culminating in a final project.

- Dissertation
A major 15,000-word piece of independent 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.

- Final Project
An independent in-depth practical project, which involves researching, compiling and presenting your own TV or radio documentary, website or print journalism work, together with a self-reflective, critical analysis (7,000 words) that will demonstrate the skills and techniques gained during the course. Please note that all the information contained herein is subject to approval.

Core modules, semester one

- 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 policy, politics and culture. The use of contemporary examples form media, politics and culture are an important aspect of learning throughout the module as students are expected not only to engage critically with concepts, but to also to reflect on the social and political realities of their own societies.

Option modules

- Reporting Diversity: Gender, Sexuality, Age, Disability
This module will present information for critical thinking and discussion about media representation of gender, sexual orientation, age 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 diversity issues. As part of the learning, students will have to produce their own documentary film on a topic relevant to the issues discussed in the module, and for this we offer training in the use of video-cameras, sound and editing.

- Introduction to Inclusive Journalism
This module examines the practice of contemporary journalism and its role in shaping a democratic and inclusive society. The module introduces students to relevant theoretical perspectives as well as provides a critical examination/discussion of journalistic techniques of information gathering and analysis, journalistic norms and values and basic principles of inclusive media formats. It employs practical journalistic exercises, personal examination, critical media analysis, and scholarly study to increase awareness and critical engagement with the issues surrounding reporting of diversity in society.

- Media Production Skills
The module will give you a basic understanding of the structures and practical abilities needed in news journalism. You will develop individual skills in 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; to learn individual and team skills across different media platforms; to acquire knowledge of ethical considerations faced by journalists; and to design and develop a website in teams.

- Issues in Journalism: Freedom of Speech, Ethics and Democracy
A critical survey of some of the social, political and economic pressures on the media across the world, looking at the ethical considerations which are of key concern to journalists, and the previsions designed to safeguard media freedom. On this module, students will gain an in-depth working knowledge of the media law in the UK, and how it relates to the work of journalists. This is in line with the syllabus requirements of the accrediting body, the Broadcast Journalism Training Council, and students will have the opportunity to get extra accreditation from their study of the media law in the UK. Students in the module will also have to think of the practice of journalism within international contexts and take a more international perspective in their studies.

Core modules, semester two

- Diversity in the Media: Models, Institutions, Practices
This core module of the Diversity and the Media MA 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, economic models and media cultures. It examines and compares media content, it questions the meaning of the melting pot, cultural mosaic and salad bowl metaphors and their operationalization by the media and looks at various media institutions across the world and their responses to social diversity. Throughout the module students will work with a number of examples for media content from around the world in order to compare, reflect and establish best practice.

Option modules

- Reporting Diversity: Migration, Race, Ethnicity
This module combines traditional lectures and seminars and a number of newsroom workshops. It introduces the students to key theoretical perspectives on the cultural production and representation of race, ethnicity and migrancy and discusses the role of the media and journalistic practice in such processes. As population movements intensify across the world, the module provides a context for critical thinking and discussion about multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural issues associated with contemporary news media. Students will research the stereotypes of people of colour, various ethnic groups, refugees and immigrant communities in the mainstream news media and will examine 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. Students, as part of their study, will have to think of, research and write a feature article for a specific media platform and for specific media audiences.

- Reporting Diversity: Faith and Religion
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 seminars and a number of newsroom workshops, it will encourage you to reflect on the various aspects of media and journalism practice in relation to religion and faith. The module will look at the influence, responsibility, and power of journalism in reporting faith and religion as a marker of difference in our societies. As part of their learning in the newsroom, students will have the opportunity to produce a 'feature article', for a specific media platform and for specific audiences.

- Planning Campaign Communications
In this module students will learn how to research and plan a campaign for social change based on the theories of social change examined in semester 1. They will produce communication material such as news releases, e-alerts, tweets, infographics and / or videos to support the campaign strategy. Where possible, students work to live briefs. This is a practical, hands-on module taught through a series of workshops, visits to campaign communication teams in London-based campaigning organisations, and guest talks by leading campaigners and social change communicators.

- Media, Activism and Politics
The module critically investigates the relationship between media, activism and politics. It offers a critical assessment of the role of media in political mobilization, social movements, dissent, wars, conflicts, elections, and political and social crises. The module 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. The module is unique in its combination of traditional academic lectures and seminars with attendance of topical events and visits to relevant exhibitions and institutions

- 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. It questions views of 'news' as the representation of 'the factual world', adopts a constructivist approach to news production, examines sources, organizational settings and the impact of technological innovation in the production of 'news'.

- 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.

Followed by a dissertation (Dissertation route) or a final project (Practice route).

Associated careers

This course is designed to attract a mix of new graduates, often with a media-related degree or work experience, and people who have already worked in journalism, but want to enhance their understanding of social diversity and their skills in the area of inclusive journalism. It is suitable for existing media professionals that want to reflect on their practice as journalists, as well as students who want to pursue a career in the media, national and local government, IGOs and NGOs or who intend to embark on a relevant research/academic career. It will be a valuable asset for civil servants and local authority staff, NGO workers working on immigration, equality, social inclusion and cohesion and community regeneration whose duties involve communication and media work.

Visit the Diversity and the Media (MA) page on the University of Westminster website for more details!

Student Profiles

Entry Requirements

You should possess, or be expecting, at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent). If English is your second language you should have an IELTS score of at least 6.5 with 6.0 in element.

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