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Communications in the 21st Century (CMM2007)

StaffDr Neil Ewen - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims to help you develop a critical vocabulary and deep understanding of the centrality of digital communication technologies in the structuring of everyday life in the contemporary world. You will be introduced to some of the key issues at stake in living a life dependent on digital communication technologies and be encouraged to think beyond simple binary value judgements about the benefits/detriments of social media.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of key debates surrounding digital media technologies and social media.
  • 2. Relate developments in communications technologies to broader historical forces and contexts.
  • 3. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the relevant scholarly literature on communication technologies and new media

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Analyse key developments in communication technology
  • 5. Exercise sound judgement in researching, collecting, and interpreting information from a range of appropriate primary and secondary sources.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Demonstrate self-awareness and criticality in your own use of digital media technologies and social media
  • 7. Question assumptions, to distinguish between fact and opinion, and to critically reflect your own learning process.

Syllabus plan

The module will take a thematic approach to the study of digital communication technology and new media in the contemporary world. Topics covered might include but are not limited to: the political economy of new media; politics and citizenship; digital divides, participation and inequality; new media uses and abuses; digital exhaustion and refusal; internet addiction and online bullying; security, surveillance, and safety; mobile media and everyday life; new media and identity; mobile gaming; data management; hacking and whistleblowing; the internet of things; AI and AR.  

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities11Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities11Seminars
Guided Independent Study35Seminar preparation
Guided Independent Study93Reading, research, and assessment preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Report / Diary of internet usage750 words4-5Oral feedback
Essay Plan750 words1-7Oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1003000 words1-7Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay (3000 words)Essay (3000 words)1-7Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading


  • Chadwick, A. (2017). The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power, 2nd ed. Oxford: OUP.
  • Chun, W.H.K. (2017). Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT.
  • Coleman, G. (2015). Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous. London: Verso.
  • Dencik, L and Leistert, O. (eds.).(2015). Critical Perspectives on Social Media and Protest. London: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Greenfield, A (2018) Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life. London: Verso.
  • Hands, J. (2019) Gadget Consciousness: Collective Thought, Will and Action in the Age of Social Media. London: Pluto.
  • Hinton, S. and Hjorth, L. (2013) Understanding Social Media. London: SAGE.
  • McStay, A. (2018). Emotional AI: The Rise of Empathetic Media. London: SAGE.
  • Merrin, W. (2014) Media Studies 2.0. New York: Routledge.
  • Schulte, Stephanie (2013) Cached: Decoding the Internet in Global Popular Culture. New York: NYUP.
  • Seymour, R. (2019). The Twittering Machine. London: Indigo.
  • Siapera, E. (2017) Understanding New Media. London: SAGE.
  • Swartz, A. (2016). The Boy Who Could Change the World. London: Verso.
  • Turkle, S (2015) Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. London: Penguin.
  • Zuboff, S. (2019) The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. London: Profile

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Key words search

New Media, Social Media, Network, Digital Media, Technology, Internet, Web, Communications, infrastructure