Media technologies and forms have revolutionised the way we live, communicate, and process information in very complex ways. For example, social media has transformed our expectations of news and questions of trust, accelerating the distribution of ‘fake news’, whilst at the same time it has also become an indispensable platform for exposing inequality and raising awareness of injustice.
If we think about how social media transformed the #NoDAPL, #BlackLivesMatter and the #YesAllWomen movements. We can see that what started out as small-scale, grassroots social movements are now supported by people all over the globe, thanks to social media.
These profound shifts warrant a new approaches to the academic study of communication and society. Thankfully, the University of Leicester is no stranger to pioneering new areas of study.
The University of Leicester has long been an institute of academic excellence, recently ranking 11th in The Complete University Guide 2017’s listing of best UK universities. Not only was Leicester one of the first UK universities to offer a degree in sociology, but it’s now one of very few UK universities with a School that combines media, communication and sociology.
Last year, Leicester’s Department of Media and Communication merged with the Department of Sociology, creating the new, innovative School of Media, Communication and Sociology. The previously separate departments were both renowned for producing graduates who went on to become leaders in their respective fields.
In fact, the original Centre for Mass Communication Research, from which Media and Communication subsequently grew, was founded in 1966. It was one of the first of its kind in the UK, and its establishment owed much to Leicester’s Vice-Chancellor at the time – Fraser Noble – who also served as Chair of the Television Research Committee. When the Centre was first launched, there were practically no academic journals or university departments dedicated exclusively to media or communication. Its first students came from various academic backgrounds and disciplines, inciting the unique interdisciplinary approach to education Leicester still uses today.
Similarly, the Sociology department at Leicester was one of the first in the UK. Established in 1952, it played a central role in the history of the subject in the UK and internationally. Some of the most eminent names in the discipline – Norbert Elias, Anthony Giddens, John Goldthorpe, Eric Dunning, Laurie Taylor, to name but a few – were formerly students and staff at Leicester.
The new School continues these incredible legacies by offering deeply established undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that bring academic subjects to life. Here are just a few of them…
- Media and Society, BA. According to the official course page, “This is the degree for students with a deep interest in the media but who are also keen to explore wider sociological questions.” The degree combines media courses like Media and Globalisation with invaluable sociology courses like Cybersociology. As students’ progress through the course, they are given more freedom to choose the modules that best suit their interests.
- Media, Culture, and Society, MA. For those interested in pursuing a career in academia, this Master’s programme is a great place to start. The modules of the course critically examine how modern society is portrayed in both traditional and social media. Some modules include Media Solidarities and Human Rights and Technology, Culture, and Communication. Postgraduate students will also interview and work with global leaders in sociology, media, and cultural studies.
- New Media and Society, MA. Looking for a programme that focuses on the relationship between media and socioeconomics? Look no further. This course explores how new forms of media shape digital environments and influence digital capitalism and consumer behaviour online. It also examines how this relationship influences culture, society, and psychology as a whole. This course is perfect for students looking to combine their media skills with their passion for humanitarianism to make our world a better, safer place, both on and offline.
- MA Contemporary Sociology. This programme will take your understanding of the contemporary world to the next level. It provides an advanced training in sociology, focusing on contemporary theories, themes, issues, debates and controversies and some of their practical applications. It enables students to develop their social research skills enabling them to move into a variety of careers as well as providing opportunities for further academic research at PhD level.
It’s easy to see why this interdisciplinary approach is crucial, especially in an age where distrust of the media is only increasing thanks to an establishment that writes off news as “fake” when it doesn’t serve them. It is becoming more and more important to understand what is happening ‘behind’ the news; to understand the ‘social’ in social media; to understand the drivers and underpinnings of the rapid changes we are all living through. Their truly interdisciplinary school – steeped in the illustrious intellectual traditions of the subject groups that comprise it – offers precisely that: the ideal environment in which to advance your knowledge, skills and understanding much further, much deeper.
Let’s look at how this interdisciplinary education can benefit you:
- Earn one of the most unique academic experiences the UK has to offer. Leicester is currently one of just a few universities to offer this unique mix of media, communication and sociology.
- Increase your employability. Though the demand for media and communication graduates has skyrocketed in recent years, graduates from the School of Media Communication and Sociology will have a unique advantage over other graduates. They’ll have a deeper understanding of the profound role media plays in shaping society, something that will particularly appeal to prospective employers.
- Take part in world-leading research. Students and staff at the School of Media, Communication and Sociology are working on some important projects. Find out more about their ongoing research efforts in the latest research newsletter.
- Solve real-world, 21st century problems. Despite the overabundance of wealth and basic resources, age-old social issues like inequality and widespread poverty still remain today. An interdisciplinary education in media and sociology can give you the tools you need to help reveal and solve those problems.
Back in 1966, the University of Leicester took a leap of faith when it established the Centre for Mass Communication Research. There were virtually no other university departments like it in the UK. What started out as a group of 70 PhD students grew to over 2,000 postgraduate and doctoral students by 1990, setting an important, global precedent for mass communication education. Similarly, Sociology was launched at Leicester when the subject was scarcely known in the UK. It soon went on to become one of the most influential pioneers of the discipline in the UK, with many of its graduates going on to form or lead other departments in the UK and beyond. The new school of Media, Communication and Sociology at Leicester aims to carry on this tradition: to redefine the field, to stay ahead of developments in the contemporary world, and be world leaders in research and teaching.