understanding media

Module Overview

'Understanding Media' is a basic level module which runs in Semester 1. It is taught by Rachel Payne in the Communication, Media and Culture team at the Harcourt Hill Campus of Oxford Brookes University . The objective of the module is to introduce participants to key concepts and concerns in the study of the media.

The module is organised into two 'strands'. Each week we investigate a different approach to the media. We examine a range of concepts that allow us to unearth the messages conveyed by media products: what do they mean, how do people consume them, and what power do they have? We thus consider the media as channels or vehicles for conveying messages: these aspects comprise the Vehicle Strand of the module.

Each week we also investigate a particular aspect of the internet, the most important new medium to have evolved in recent years. By means of this ongoing investigation we examine a specific medium in detail: how do people use it, and what social changes has it brought about? We thus consider a medium as an environment that people inhabit: this approach comprises the Environment Strand of the module.

During the course of the module we will discuss the work of a number of different thinkers, but we will look in particular detail at the ideas of Marshall McLuhan, one of the first people to consider the importance of different media in their own right. McLuhan was most active during the 1960s but the utility of his prophetic and provocative ideas is only now becoming apparent with the advent of the internet and other forms of new media.

The Module Handbook, which provides full details on all aspects of the module, is available from the Downloads page.