MP5036 - Researching Audiences

What will I learn on this module?

This module will introduce you to several key aspects of media audience studies. Firstly, you will be introduced to the main recent traditions for studying media audiences, including the European cultural studies approach, the American mass communications approach, the reception studies tradition, and the interdisciplinary field of fan studies. These traditions all focus on the contexts that shape how audiences engage with and respond to different media and cultural products.
Additionally, you will gain experience in reading and evaluating original audience and reception research. This will involve reading actual empirical work in depth to understand the research process and to differentiate between strong and weak research.
Finally, the module will provide you with a unique opportunity to conduct your own small-scale audience research. Working in a small group, you will design, conduct, and compare different methods for understanding audience responses. This experience will help you to understand the challenges and processes involved in audience research.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures, seminars/workshops, and group and independent research. The lectures will explore recent traditions and approaches within the field of this module, while the seminars and workshops will examine in more detail particular concepts and theories from these traditions, as well as providing you with the methodological/practical skills to be able to conduct your own piece of audience research. There will be a number of workshop sessions where you will be able to work in your small group on your audience study with support from the module tutor.
Outside of the taught sessions, you will be expected to engage with module-relevant reading in preparation for the sessions. An electronic reading list is supplied via the e-Learning Portal, which will guide you towards appropriate resources, although you are encouraged to explore the wider library catalogue to engage with additional sources too. During your independent working time, it is also expected that you will apply the ideas raised in the reading and the taught content to contemporary media examples beyond those cited in the lectures.
Where appropriate, additional materials will be supplied on the eLearning Portal. These independent activities will facilitate your development as you progress through the module, laying a foundation for your assessed work.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported by the module lead; they will introduce the module at the start of the semester and offer advice and guidance throughout. Your learning is mapped out via documentation on Blackboard Ultra, the Northumbria University online electronic learning portal; this is accessible online on and off campus. The e-Learning Portal will include guidance notes and key dates to help you organise and plan your time. It will also include teaching materials, announcements and updates, and detailed information on assessment. You will have a university email that we contact you through.
Support will include feedback from your tutor during seminars, workshops and tutorials. Your tutor will also respond to questions you may have regarding your group’s audience study via the module’s discussion board at the University’s eLearning Portal so that the whole student cohort can benefit.
Formative assessment is offered throughout the module, and summative assignments will receive written feedback within 20 working days of assignment submission. Every tutor has set weekly feedback and tutorial drop-in hours, wherein you can seek advice on your academic progress.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• KU1: You will develop detailed knowledge regarding recent traditions of researching media audiences and demonstrate your understanding of the historical context, theoretical foundations and underlying assumptions of these approaches
• KU2: You develop the detailed knowledge required to critically reflect on the processes and challenges involved in designing and carrying out audience research by conducting a small-scale group study

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• IPSA1: You will develop your skills in independently comparing and evaluating different research traditions and approaches
• IPSA2: You will develop skills in designing and conducting empirical research in groups, as well as reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of those processes and how these valuable skills enhance employability in a range of applicable careers

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• PVA1: You will develop ethical principles and standards within a practical research context.

How will I be assessed?

To prepare you successfully to undertake the summative assessment(s) on this module, formative assessments will be set by the module team. These may take the form of in-class tasks or projects, developmental activities undertaken between classes, or learning exercises/activities set over a longer period. Feedback (written and/or oral) will be provided to help you learn from, reflect on, and develop in light of these formative assessments.

1 x 3,000 word evaluation of a group-based research exercise (100%).

In this module, you will receive feedback on your ability to analyse research methods, theories and outcomes through class discussions and seminars. These discussions will challenge you to critically engage with the complexities of relationships between audiences and their chosen media texts and to demonstrate your understanding of the theoretical concepts presented in the lectures. You will also have the opportunity to collaborate with your peers and discuss your ideas, working together to find answers to theoretical problems, methodological issues and interpretation of data.

Typically, you will receive written feedback on your summative assignments within 20 working days after submission. The feedback will be delivered electronically as part of the ESAF process and will provide a comprehensive evaluation of your research and methodological skills, critical thinking, and communication abilities. It will also identify areas for improvement to support your future learning. If you would like additional verbal feedback, you can arrange a meeting with the module tutor.





Module abstract

This module provides three opportunities for students. Firstly, it will introduce you to the main traditions in media audience studies, exploring how audiences interact with various media products, such as film, television, books, music, and more. Secondly, you will have the opportunity to read and evaluate actual audience research studies, rather than just reading about them in textbooks. Lastly, and most importantly, you will be able to participate in a hands-on experience by conducting your own small-scale audience research in a group setting with other classmates. Overall, Researching Audiences aims to deepen your understanding of the complex and dynamic relationships between media, audiences, and culture, and to explore the ways in which media shape and are shaped by people and communities.

Course info

UCAS Code P305

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Arts

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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