Module Identifier MC10020  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Daniel G J Chandler  
Semester Semester 1  
Course delivery Other   20 Hours Workshops  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Assignment 1 2000-word assignment50%
Semester Assessment Assignment 2 2000-word assignment For information on due dates for submission of assessed work, please refer to the departmental web pages at

Learning outcomes

Typically, upon completion of this module, a student will be able to:

understand the limitations of transmission models of communication;
identify key features of different media of interpersonal communication;
demonstrate the limitations of technological determinism.


This is a compulsory introductory module for a new MCS degree. The first major theme is an exploration of the nature of communication. We explore, for instance, the limitations of the commonsense 'transmission' model of communication as the simple sending of messages to receivers. We also discuss some of the key media used in interpersonal communication, including various forms of online communication.

The second main theme of this module concerns broad theories about the influence of communications tools and media (such as writing, print, television and computers) on their users. The widespread stance of 'technological determinism' sees changes in communications technologies and media as having profound consequences for the individual and for society. This viewpoint is deconstructed and illustrated with a critique of the ideas of Marshall McLuhan, who coined the well-known aphorism, 'the medium is the message'. This theme raises the question: to what extent are we shaped by our use of what we typically think of a 'neutral' tools and media? Historical case-studies of communications media serve to emphasize the importance of the social context of media use.

Reading Lists

** Essential Reading
McQuail, Denis (1990) Mass Communication Theory London: Sage
O'Sullivan, Tim, John Hartley, Danny Saunders & John Fiske (1994) Key Concepts in Communication and Cultural Studies London: Routledge
Winston, Brian Media, Technology and Society: A History London: Routledge
Anderson, James A. & Timothy P. Meyer (1988) Mediated Communication Newbury Park CA: Sage
Chandler, Daniel (2001) Semiotics: The Basics London: Routledge
Crowley, David & Paul Heyer (Eds.) (1995) Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society (2nd edition) White Plains, NY: Longman
DeFleur, Melvin L. & Snadra Ball-Rokeach (1989) Theories of Mass Communication (5th edition) White Plains, NY: Longman
Fiske, John (1990) Introduction to Communication Studies London: Routledge


This module is at CQFW Level 4