Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1 (Taught over 2 semesters)

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture A small number of presentations within seminar meetings, on particular thinkers or topics.
Seminars / Tutorials Typically 15 @ 2-hours.
Practical Typically 5 (in which the group of students would design and rehearse a particular method/practice of research).


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 critical analysis of selected empirical researches  33%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 evaluation of research practice  33%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 proposal of research project/dissertation  34%
Supplementary Assessment In the event of failure on the first assignment, a student will be required to resubmit the essay, using new case study materials  33%
Supplementary Assessment In the event of failure on the second assignment, a student will bre required to resubmit the essay, choosing a different research practice  33%
Supplementary Assessment In the event of failure on the thirs assignment, a student will be required to resubmit the research proposal  34%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. understand the central principles and key achievements of the audience and reception studies traditions and explore specific pieces of research in detail for the ways in which they relate to these, evaluating their strengths and limitations:
2. carry out and evaluate specific research practices, measuring their own practices against a critical literature;
3. conceive and design a piece of research within audience and reception studies, proposing an appropriately framed research question and coupling this with achievable methods of research.


The aim of the module is to provide a rich, advanced grounding to students in the questions, methods and achievements of the twin traditions of audience and reception studies, as they have emerged over the past 25 years from within the broad remit of cultural studies. The module is designed across two semesters particularly in order to enable students to combine critical examination of sources and overviews with rehearsals of a number of the methods, in order to gain experience of each and to understand their respective strengths and limitations. The forms of assessment for the module also enable it to act as a specific preparation for the MA Dissertation.

Brief description

The module combines encounters with a considerable number of specific pieces of research within audience and reception studies, spanning a range of media and cultural practices (including film and television, books and other forms of reading, and theatre and performance), and examinations of the range of methods typically used by researchers (observation, interview, focus group, questionnaire, reception sampling) and kinds of analysis used (focusing on methods of analysis of forms of audience talk), with rehearsals (usually conducted as groups) which can be subsequently critically evaluated.


The module will be taught through a basis of two-hour seminar sessions across the year (punctuated by occasional short lecture-presentations). On particular weeks, students will work in groups, typically, to carry out a piece of research practice for instance, organizing and conducting a focus group, returning the following week to a discussion of the strengths and limitations of their own practices, considered in relation to the critical literature.

Typical sessions might be:

1. What are audience and reception studies?
2. Comparing Elizabeth Long, Janice Radway and Jenny Hartley on 'reading groups'
3. Key Concepts (1): "Identity and Memory"
4. Practice Week: Conducting a Focus Group
5. Reviewing the Focus Group Practice
6. Key Concepts (2): "Interpretive Communities"
7. Designing and Using Questionnaires
8. Practice Week: Designing and Using a Questionnaire
9. Reviewing the Questionnaire Practice
10. Reception Studies: Looking at Staiger, Klinger et al
11. Practice Week: Doing Reception Studies
12. Reviewing the Reception Studies Practice
13. The Concept of the 'Live Audience'
14. Practice Week: Conducting Observations
15. Reviewing the Observation Practice
16. Key Concepts (3): Discourse Analysis and 'Talk'
17. Practice Week: Doing Discourse Analysis
18. Alternatives to 'Talk' - New Creative Methods
19. Fact, Fiction and Modality in Audience Research
20. Audience Research, its Ethics and Politics

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication This is developed through a range of coursework where effective communication is crucial.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will constantly be encouraged to think critically about their own development and progress in the module.
Information Technology This is developed through the use of electronic information sources and use of data analysis software (depending on the nature of the topic).
Problem solving This is developed through students' questioning of appropriate methodologies and problematizing the nature of research.
Research skills This is developed through students' own investigations and in preparation for the dissertation.
Subject Specific Skills General ability to link understanding of concepts and methods within audience and reception studies.
Team work This is developed through seminar work and coursework.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Ang, len. (1996) Living Room Wars: Rethinking Media Audiences for a Postmodern World Routledge Primo search Barker, Martin & Ernest Mathijs (eds.) (2007) Watching The Lord of the Rings Peter Lang Primo search Blackadder, Neil (2003) Performing Opposition: Modern Theater and the Scandalized Audience Praeger Primo search Boughtwood, Desiree (2005) Desiring to the thin: interrogating the media's relationship to eating disorders through audience research Participations: on-line journal 3 Primo search Buckingham, David (ed) (1983) Reading Audiences: Young People and the Media Manchester University Press Primo search Harper, Sue and Vincent Porter (1996) Moved to tears: weeping in the cinema in postwar Britain Screen, 37:2 pp. 152-73 Primo search Hartley, Jenny (2001) Reading Groups Oxford University Press Primo search Hills, Matt (2002) Fan Cultures Routledge Primo search Kuhn, Annette (2002) An Everyday Magic: Cinema and Cultural Memory I.B. Tauris Primo search McConachie, Bryan (2009) Engaging Audiences: A Cognitive Approach to Spectating in the Theatre Palgrave Macmillan Primo search Mikkelsen, Nina (2005) Powerful Magic: Learning from Children's Responses to Fantasy Literature New York: Teachers College Press Primo search Morgan, David L. (1997) Focus Groups as Qualitative Research Sage Primo search Pursehouse, Mark (1991) Looking at The Sun: into the nineties with a tabloid and its readers Cultural Studies from Birmingham, 1, pp. 88-133 Primo search Radway, Janice (1984) Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy and Popular Literature Verso Primo search Ruddock, Andy (2000) Understanding Audiences: Theory and Method Sage Primo search Schlesinger, Philip, R. Emerson Dobash, Russell P. Dobash & C. Kay Weaver (1992) Women Viewing Violence British Film Institute Primo search Schlesinger, Philip, Richard Haynes, Raymond Boyle, Brian McNair, R. Emerson Dobash & Russell P. Dobash (1998) Men Viewing Violence Broadcasting Standards Council Primo search Schroder, Kim Christian (1994) Audience semiotics, interpretive communities and the "ethnographic turn" in media research Media, Culture & Society, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 337-47 Primo search Schroder, Kim et al. (2003) Researching Audiences Arnold Primo search Seale, Clive (ed.) (2004) Social Research Methods: A Reader Routledge Primo search Smith, Clarissa (2002) They're ordinary people, not aliens from the planet sex!: the mundane excitements of pornography for women Journal of Mundane Behaviour, Feb 2002, 3:1, available online at Primo search Stacey, Jackie (1993) Stargazing: Hollywood Cinema and Female Spectatorship Routledge Primo search Staiger, Janet (2005) Media Reception Studies New York University Press Primo search Wetherell, Margaret, Stephanie Taylor & Simeon J. Yates (eds.) (2001) Discourse Theory and Practice: a Reader Open University Press Primo search Wetherell, Margaret, Stephanie Taylor & Simeon J. Yates (eds.) (2001) Discourse as Data: a Guide for Analysis Open University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 7