All students undertake five core modules and one optional module during the taught semesters of the programme. They then undertake a dissertation, which can be either a significant piece of independent written research on a topic of their choice, or a practical production accompanied by a reflective essay.
While individual modules may focus more on either the academic or practical aspects of the course, throughout the degree both aspects are brought together. This means that the academic theory should inform the reflective aspect of the practical modules, while the experience of creating programming should allow students to better understand the theoretical material, its benefits and its limitations.
Media and Broadcast Analysis
This module introduces students to the academic analysis of broadcasting and media. In doing so, the aim is to provide students with an understanding of a range of different methods for conducting their own research, and for understanding other academics' research. Students will be introduced to the semiotic analysis of television and radio, as well as the analysis of audience and of broadcast brand. The historical development of broadcasting in Britain will be covered, including core concepts, such as that of public service broadcasting, which shape the media environment to this day. Through considering these ideas and element, students should develop their understanding of the media and broadcast environment in ways that aid their practical work as well as allowing them to consider how their own work, as well as that of others, can be interpreted by different audiences. Students should provide their own examples of programming and material, but will also be supplied with examples, including archival material, audience research etc. Assessment is based upon an essay, with the subject determined by the student in consultation with the module convener.
Television Documentary Practice
This practice based module will explore documentary filmmaking in the context of television and broadcast commissioning structures on the island of Ireland and the UK. Students will be encouraged to combine their theory and practice to become informed practitioners, aware of the commissioning structures and current industry practices, yet capable of reflecting critically on their own practice.
With a particular emphasis on production for television and online, students will develop and enhance practical filmmaking skills to a level appropriate to stage, through workshops on camera, editing, interview design and lighting. Masterclasses with industry professionals, screenings and lectures will also form important aspects of course delivery. Students will develop an enhanced knowledge of the ethical implications for their work, learn to work to editorial guidelines and within the broadcast industry regulations (Ofcom), but will also engage with the wider issues of the social and cultural roles of documentaries in, for example, science communication, construction of ideas of heritage, and national and local debates around current issues in the humanities and social sciences. Other aspects of the course include script writing for television and voice presentation/voiceover skills. In addition to broadcast-specific approaches, students will engage with interdisciplinary research, particularly in developing the content for their documentary productions.
Research is a hugely important aspect of documentary production and this module therefore takes the view that documentary can be a powerful expression of practice based research and relevant case studies will be screened as part of the course. The social, political and cultural significance of the genre will be explored. Cognate work will be examined and the notion of documentary as 'truth' will be challenged. Students taking this module will have the opportunity to create a significant practical documentary film/video to add to their portfolio of work.
This module introduces students to the practice of broadcasting, particularly the practices of radio and television broadcast journalism. This includes consideration of the regulatory and ethical framework surrounding broadcast journalism, writing and performing for broadcast, as well as recording and editing sound. Students will be assessed based on their production of some audio vox pops, and on their writing and performance of a piece to camera. The assessment also consists of a reflective statement on the practical work, which includes a consideration of the professional requirements of the recorded pieces, and how they might be received by an audience unaware of the process of creating them and any problems that may have arisen.
This module examines the uses and significance of genre in broadcasting. It covers theories of genre, the relationships between genre in different media (including literature and cinema), and the uses of genre by broadcasters, producers and audiences. Through the module, students will develop their own case studies focussing on a genre of their choice, feeding their research into the seminars. They will engage with questions around how genres are formed and used, why people categorise things in genres, how genres interact with policy and taste formations, and how generic descriptions and canons change over time. This will all contribute to a final assessed essay based on the work developed through the module.
The Radio Documentary
This module develops the skills needed for students to produce a multi-faceted industry-standard radio feature, incorporating interview clips, sound effects, music and a script. The module takes students through the production process from the initial idea, through the gathering of material, to scripting and editing. The module examines the history of the radio documentary and analyses changes in the genre. Students will also benefit from visits by industry experts, relating the practical sessions to current industry practices.
From Page to Stage
This module in practice-based drama exposes students to the principle of collaboration as the essential creative axis at the core of all drama production. Starting with a blank page, students will work together to devise, develop and produce a single piece of original drama for either stage or radio or screen of no more than 30 minutes duration. They will then see this new script through to production. With particular emphasis on teamwork, and the practical processes and pressures involved in collaborative writing and collaborative production, each seminar will explore a separate aspect of the dramatic process with students working together to share the challenges of writing, editing, rehearsing, directing, designing and producing.
Media Discourses of Crime and Deviance
Censorship, Regulation and Audiences
This course will explore censorship, film regulation and audiences with British Cinema. It will use a variety of historical and contemporary case studies to explore the legislative and industrial frameworks, which shape practices of film censorship and the critical and cultural debates which surround discussions of the regulation of cinema. It will look at local examples of film censorship to examine the hierarchies of power at work in exhibition and regulation of film and cinema. It will also examine the role played by audiences in determining what will and what will not be shown. Case studies may include Last Tango in Paris, The Exorcist, The Devils, The Life of Brian, The Hunger Games, Casino Royale.
Media and Broadcast Production Dissertation
Each student will develop and produce a dissertation based on a topic which they select, in consultation with their supervisor. The Broadcast Literacy dissertation may take the form of a traditional academic dissertation, or a broadcast piece with associated reflective statement. Students will undertake their dissertation work independently over the summer, supported by their supervisor.