Summative Assessment 2011-12 (for resitting/deferred candidates)



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Summative Assessment

2011-12
(for resitting/deferred candidates)


MC401

Mediated Resistance and Citizens

MC402

The Audience in Media & Communications

MC403

Contemporary Issues in Media & Communications Policy

MC404

Political Communication

MC405

Current Issues in Media & Communications:

MC407

International Media and The Global South

MC409

Media, Technology & Everyday Life

MC413

Information, Communication and Knowledge Systems

MC416

Representation in the Age of Globalisation

MC419

Modern Campaigning Politics

MC420

Identity, Transnationalism & the Media

MC422

Critical Studies in Media & Journalism

MC425

Interpersonal Mediated Communication

MC426

Film Theory and World Cinema

MC4M1

Methods of Research in Media & Communications



MC401

Mediated Resistance and Citizens


The summative essay should focus on one of the topics below. Students are advised to select a different topic for their summative essay than their formative essay.

You should develop your argument as a case study in an analytical way by relating the topic to a particularly contentious academic debate or a set of analytical tensions/contradictions relevant to the chosen topic.

- Mainstream media and resistance


- Self-mediation practices and resistance
- Discourse and resistance
- Information and resistance
- Communicative resistance

The structure of the essay is as follows:

- Introduction
Start with a brief theoretical reflection regarding the various angles and academic debates relevant to your topic. Then select a specific angle - a particular contentious debate or a set of contradictions or tensions;

- Theoretical part


 Provide an in-depth theoretical reflection on this debate or set of tensions and develop these into a framework which provides a basis for analyse of the issues in the case study.

- Empirical part:


Discuss the case study by analyzing it in a way that relates to the general topic to the theoretical angle you have selected. The expectation is not that you conduct original research for this essay as long as you treat the case study analytically rather than descriptively and draw on desk research for your data and use academic literature. Where appropriate compare and contrast issues addressed within your case study.

- Conclusion:


Assess whether or how your case study challenges or confirms the theoretical framework discussed in the first part of the essay.
MC402

The Audience in Media & Communications



  1. What significance, if any, has audience participation for the public sphere? Discuss in relation to one or more media genres (e.g. news, soap opera, talk shows, user-generated content).

  2. Media literacy is 'the ability to use, understand and create media and communications in a variety of contexts' (Ofcom, 2011) Discuss the strengths and limitations of this definition.

  3. Critically discuss the claim that everyone is a fan. Illustrate your answer with empirical research.

  4. Is the concept of the 'audience' now obsolete, having been replaced by 'users' and 'consumers'?


MC403

Contemporary Issues in Media & Communications Policy


 

This essay comprises the required, formal assessment for this course:

Choose a current or recent public consultation on a key communications policy issue. This may be a public consultation run by Ofcom, by one of the UK Government Departments with a role in communications policy, the European Commission (Directorate General for Information Society and Media) or another public body on approval by the course teacher.

PART 1.
Write an essay in response to the key issue addressed in the consultation, or one or more of the questions raised in the consultation, of 2-3000 words.

Guidance. You will be expected to:

-Write a clear response to the key issue, or answer one or more of the questions raised in the consultation.


-Set out a proposed policy solution to the issue(s) raised in the consultation
-Support your argument with evidence from the relevant research from reputable sources, ensuring that you include references to the relevant academic literature on the topic.
-Be realistic and pragmatic: show an awareness of the wider policy context and a sense of practical possibilities including funding
-Include a short executive summary of the main points at the beginning.
-The main part of the submission should be structured as continuous prose with a clear central argument providing a critical assessment of the key issue or question.
 
PART 2.
Write a short (500-1000 words) critical reflection on this policy consultation and what you consider to be possible/ likely outcomes, as appropriate taking into account historical, contextual and political economy factors.
 
Responses to Part 1 and Part 2 should total no more than 3,500 words.





MC404

Political Communication




  1. The age of the spin doctor is over. Do you agree?

  2. "[T]oday's media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack. In these modes it is like a feral beast" (Tony Blair, speaking in June 2007). To what extent do you agree?

  3. Do election campaigns matter?

  4. Election campaigning practice around the world is said to be converging. To what extent can the concepts 'Americanisation' and 'modernization' help us understand this process?

  5. Is the emergence of political branding good for democracy?


MC405

Current Issues in Media & Communications:




  1. Should there be international development goals for take-up and use of information and communications technology?  How would such goals be decided? What alternatives can be considered?

  2. Was the World Summit on the Information Society worthwhile?  Should it be repeated?

  3. How has the internet changed broadcasting?  Discuss the implications for society, with examples from a country or countries of your choice.

  4. Should internet rights be considered human rights? How should internet rights be promoted?

  5. How sustainable is the Information Society? How do you expect this situation to change?


MC407

International Media and The Global South


1. The success and sustainability of international development initiatives depends less on media reporting than on global and/or regional geopolitics. Discuss.


2. Postcolonial theory suggests that subalterns can rely on international organisations to challenge injustice. Discuss.
3. Media produced by NGOs in and about the Global South can have both positive and negative impacts on local communities. Discuss with reference to specific cases.
4. Concepts of ‘orientalism’ and ‘self- orientalism’ are no longer relevant to discussions of media produced by non-western organisations in the Global South. Discuss.
5. Media systems and frameworks can promote peace and stability in the Global South but often contribute to continuing inequality. Discuss with reference to a relevant case study.


MC409

Media, Technology & Everyday Life

 

1. To what extent can users be innovative if they are configured in the design of information and communication technologies?



2. Critically discuss EITHER:

 a) the claim that new information and communication technologies are never ‘revolutionary’

OR

b) the argument that the internet influences people’s sociability and hence their social capital.



3. Information and communication technologies are increasingly associated with the technological promise that they can be used ‘anytime, anywhere’. However, there are social constraints associated with time and space that continue to limit that use. Discuss.

4. Critically evaluate the extent to which information and communication technologies like the mobile phone and internet change the experience of contemporary youth.

5. How useful is the concept of the digital divide for understanding uneven access to and use of the internet within countries?
MC413

Information, Communication and Knowledge Systems

1.    Compare and contrast the features of the dominant and the alternative social imaginaries of the Information Society.
2.    Discuss why understanding of the paradox of information scarcity is essential for analysis of developments in the Information Society focussing on changes in business strategy OR in social practices.
3.    Discuss some of the reasons that ‘commons-based peer production’ is seen as an important alternative to commercial market-based development of new media applications.
4.    Discuss reasons for the conflicts between the interests of the creative industry in intellectual property rights protection and the interests of other stakeholders in an information commons and suggest two ways in which these conflicts might be addressed.
5.    Discuss the ‘public interest’ in the Internet and whether the Internet should be regulated and focus on the legitimacy of authority to decide on the design and impact of new media networks in your answer.

MC416

Representation in the Age of Globalisation

“…the obligation to offer hospitality to the stranger in the symbolic space of media representation is the precondition for media justice” (Roger Silverstone, Media and Morality, 2007, p. 139)
How helpful is the concept of hospitality to the stranger for evaluating contemporary media representations?
The discussion should be based on and grounded in an analysis of specific media texts and/or images relating to either migration, or terrorism, or national conflict.
Option 1: 3 texts (e.g. newspaper articles, online textual material, NGO communications), using Critical Discourse Analysis

Option 2: 3 images (e.g. news photos, caricatures, visual adverts. online images), using Critical Visual Analysis

Option 3: 1 text and 2 images or 2 texts and 1 image, combining Critical Discourse Analysis and Critical Visual Analysis

Option 4: 2 audio-visual items (e.g. news programme, video clip, television or online advert), using Audio-visual Analysis.


Please attach the text(s), image(s) and/or relevant links to the essay.


MC419

Modern Campaigning Politics





  1. Formulate a campaign strategy and plan for a candidate/political party/NGO of your choice. Explain the theoretical assumptions that underpin the approach you take in your strategy and reflect critically on this approach.

  2. Critically assess a failed political campaign and evaluate the extent to which more effective campaigning decisions could have led to greater success. Using academic literature, provide tangible illustrations of how strategy, message and tactics could have been improved.

  3. Does the electoral system influence what styles of campaign communication are most effective? Answer with reference to two forms of electoral system.

  4. The importance of local campaigning is greatly underestimated. Discuss.

  5. Is negative campaigning inevitable, and is it good for democracy?


MC420

Identity, Transnationalism & the Media



  1. Compare and contrast the role of television and cinema as media that shape and challenge the limits of diasporic identities.

  2. Do diasporic media create spaces for intercultural communication or for retreat to segregated communicational spaces?

  3. How have Arabic transnational media contributed to the mobilisation of the Arab diaspora during the 'Arab spring' events of 2011?

  4. Urban music has been accused for encouraging alienation and violent behaviour among urban youth during the recent riots in British cities. Discuss.

  5. Internet has become uniquely powerful in sustaining transnational diasporic networks. Discuss with reference to a specific case study. 


MC422

Critical Studies in Media & Journalism




  1. How do the concepts of “unifying” and “decentering” journalism help us evaluate the ethical implications of journalism?

  2. “Networked journalism” may offer mainstream media a way of enhancing their efficiency, but does it empower the public?

  3. Is what ways do new media technologies reconfigure ethical and political debates around disaster and revolution reporting?

  4. Who has done more to challenge power and produce a model of radical journalism: Mark Zuckerberg or Julian Assange? Why and in which ways?

  5. New media journalism challenges the symbolic power of transnational media. Discuss.


MC425

Interpersonal Mediated Communication




  1. Discuss critically whether anonymity causes people to interact anti-socially online.

  2. The social capital and psychological compensation models have different explanations of intense media use. Critically discuss how both can be 'correct' for the use of social networking sites.

  3. Critically discuss whether equality in interpersonal mediated communication is a myth.

  4. Critically discuss to what extent risk and trust are fundamental to understanding online interpersonal interactions.

  5. People's relationships are weaker online than offline. Critically discuss why you agree or disagree with this statement by referring to how people establish relationship boundaries and reciprocity in relationships.


MC426

Film Theory and World Cinema

Please select ONE title from the following. You are not permitted to alter the title or to use Hollywood films as a case study, although you may of course refer to literature which discusses Hollywood cinema.


  1. To what extent do audience studies of film agree with or contradict classic textual theories of cinema spectatorship? You may base your answer on empirical and theoretical material from Hollywood and any other national cinema.

  2. Without psychoanalytic concepts, there would be no film theory. Analyse both theoretical and empirical studies of popular film from any national cinema to support your argument.

  3. ‘Why Horror? (Andrew Tudor). Discuss this question with reference to empirical and theoretical studies of monsters and the horror genre.

  4. Children and childhood in popular film are always the bearers of ideology. Centre your discussion around films from a national cinema of your choice.

  5. Films which try to build nationalism necessarily involve the use of ‘myth as history’. Discuss in relation to one or two films from a national cinema of your choice.


MC4M1

Methods of Research in Media and Communications




Summative ASSIGNMENT GUIDELINES 2011-2012


Students taking the half unit version of the course (MC4M1) are required to submit one 3,000 word assignment by Tuesday 07 May 2013.






1. GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR METHODS ASSIGNMENTS

1.1 Word-limit and Deadline
The word-limit for this assignment is 3,000 words for students taking MC4M1. The deadline is Tuesday, 07 May 2013, by 1600. Appendices, figures and tables are not included in the word count. The essays will be double blind marked by teaching staff.
1.2 Queries
General queries regarding the assignment should be addressed to the course convenor (Dr. Ellen Helsper). More specific queries can be addressed to any member of staff who has specific expertise regarding the method that is applied. Students should be aware that staff-members may, or may not, be around to respond during the vacation.
Students should also use their own judgement to answer such questions as — ‘How many articles should I include in my (content) analysis?’ — taking into account the guidelines in the course outline, as well as this document.
1.3 Choice of Assignment
It is generally assumed that students will choose to write an assignment on a workshop they have attended, but this is not compulsory. All students are free to write on any of the topics given in the course outline. However, in choosing which assignment to do, you should note the following (taken from the course outline):
In completing their assignment, students will be expected to draw on and reflect the research techniques taught in lectures and workshops, as well as broader issues of methodology and ethics addressed in the accompanying lecture series.’
1.4 Use of Methods Work, Results and Assignments for Dissertations
The Department’s MSc Guides outline the position on 'self-plagiarism' as follows:
You should avoid significant overlap in the material submitted for assessment to different courses. No coursework, or substantial parts of coursework, can be submitted more than once for assessment, whether on the same or on different courses.’
You should not cut and paste from the MC4M1 assignment (or any other assignment) into your dissertation. In addition to the self-plagiarism issue, dissertation research is expected to be further developed and of a higher standard than coursework research, which is generally seen as preliminary work, testing the ground, so to speak.
The aim of the dissertation is to demonstrate your ability, where appropriate, to develop and implement a research design relevant to the research questions that you ask. You may therefore use your Methods assignment to conduct pilot work for your dissertation (e.g. develop interview schedules, coding frames, practice data gathering and/or analytic techniques). As such, insights derived from work on the methods assignment can be incorporated into the dissertation, but it is not allowed to use data gathered for the purpose of the Methods assignment, except when:


  • it is clearly identified as having been produced for the Methods assignment; AND

  • it functions as the basis for a more developed methodology, for example as a pilot, and leads to the further production of the full range of data required for the dissertation.


1.5 What is expected?
Unlike other assessed course work, the MC4M1 assignment is not a theoretical essay. Therefore, the emphasis should be on a self-critical assessment of the process of employing a certain methodology. Students will be assessed for their capacity to reflect upon the methodology, including a (self-)critical assessment of the mistakes they have made and limitations of the method, rather than the theory. Conclusions should therefore be drawn about the methodological and not about the theoretical implications.
The theoretical part should be limited to a 400-600 words background, in which students are expected to contextualise the research question within the broader literature (citing relevant theoretical or other sources where appropriate). The rest of the report should focus almost exclusively on the method. The word limit is 3,000 words, excluding figures, tables, appendices and bibliography. The topic should be media or communications related.
Students should demonstrate skills in designing and conducting empirical research rather than collecting sufficient data to produce firm conclusions. This should include an almost step-by-step recollection of what they did, why they did it, and how they could improve it if they were to do it again.
While students are expected to draw upon methodological literature, they should avoid relying too heavily on citing and/or paraphrasing what’s said in the books on a specific method. Rather, they should draw on the general descriptions of the method in the literature and in their essays apply this general knowledge to their experiences in using the method for the essay. Students should not reference lectures or LSE statistics course packs; instead they should refer to relevant academic publications (books or journal articles).

2. STRUCTURE OF METHODS ASSIGNMENTS
Please note that these assignments are designed for you to demonstrate skills in designing and conducting empirical research rather than collecting sufficient data to produce firm conclusions!
Equipment for use in conducting your assignment(s) and in preparing your Dissertation, such as tape recorders, transcribers, etc, may be borrowed, subject to availability, from the Institute of Social Psychology's Technical Workshop, Room STC.082.
It is recommended that all materials are in English: however, if they are not, you will need to translate all materials included in the text. If you have documents or interviews in a foreign language in your appendices it is required to translate one sample document/interview.
An assignment will normally contain the following sections, although they may be adapted as appropriate to the specific research conducted. Note that the suggested section lengths relate to a 3,000 word assignments.
Abstract (approx. 100 words) 

This should summarise the main aim, method and methodological (not the theoretical) findings of the report.


Background (approx. 400-600 words) 

This should provide a background for the topic, including a justification for the topic or issue chosen and the concepts used, citing relevant theoretical or other sources where appropriate. The purpose is to address the implicit questions: why do this piece of research, why do it now, how will it relate to what has been done before?


Research question (approx. 50 words) 

This should be a clear statement of the research question(s) to be explored in your report. It should be a specific and 'answerable' question, appropriate to the methods employed and data to be collected.


Rationale for the method used (approx. 400-600 words) 

This should present a justification for selection of the method used to address the research question, citing relevant methodology sources where appropriate. This should acknowledge known advantages and disadvantages for the method and consider how these may affect your report, whether positively or negatively.


Method (approx. 400-600 words) 

This section should provide a sufficiently detailed account of the decisions taken and procedure followed. It should explain how you have operationalised the research question and so how you have generated the findings obtained. The purpose is to ensure accountability, so that someone else reading the report has sufficient information to replicate the process or to identify its strengths and weaknesses. Depending on research question and the method selected, this section may be divided into subsections (for example, sampling, selection, questions of access, designing interview schedule, outlining the contents of an archive, constructing a coding frame, ethics and consent, etc), following the narrative of the research.


You should describe the method as it would be used in a full study and describe how the pilot study you conducted for the essay tests the instruments and procedures that would be used in the full study. That is the sampling strategy, recruiting process, access questions and ethics should be discussed as if referring to a full study independent of how you conducted the pilot study.
Analysis and findings (approx 400-600 words)

This section should describe any decisions and procedures for analysis of the data or materials. It should provide a brief outline of the findings in relation to your methodology based on the pilot study. While more detailed analysis is not required, this section should end with consideration of how the analysis would be developed further in a full study.


Discussion (approx. 400-600 words) 

This should integrate the background, research question and analysis sections. The purpose is to discuss the methodological findings of the pilot by relating them back to the appropriateness of the method to answer the research question, the strengths and weaknesses of the different operationalization stages (e.g. sampling, data collection materials, analytical methods) and to preliminary findings or methodological issues in the field of investigation more generally. Students should NOT try to answer their theoretical research question but discuss to what extent the methodology allows them to answer the question. The section should, therefore, include a self-critical assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of research method decisions taken and of any successes or flaws in the implementation of the project.


Conclusion (approx 200 words) Overview of the key points of the report, drawing out any wider methodological implications and including consideration of further methodological questions for future researchers working on the topic that you studied. You should reflect on how future/further research could be carried out in light of your research (i.e. what methodological ‘lessons’ you have learnt that would apply to other projects). Again students should not draw theoretical conclusions but should conclude about the methodological implications for their particular field of study.
Bibliography 

This should include all cited references, presented accurately and consistently in a standard format.


Appendices

Specific to each assignment


Note: All raw data and source material relating to assessed assignments will be kept until students graduate from LSE (i.e. until the date of the first graduation ceremony after the relevant exam board).


3. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES FOR EACH OF THE METHODS ASSIGNMENTS
In completing their assignment, students will be expected to draw on and reflect the research techniques taught in lectures and workshops, as well as broader issues of methodology and ethics addressed in the accompanying lecture series. Students should also reflect on the strengths and limitations of the method in the context of their research and embedded in the broader methodological literature. Adequate attention should be given to both collection of data and the analysis of data.
3.1 Visual analysis
Visual analysis: Identify a research question in the field of media and communications. Justify why visual analysis is an appropriate methodology to answer the question. Decide on a sampling strategy for your study and collect material for piloting your visual analysis (max 1 minute of moving image footage or 3 still images) from the media as appropriate. Using semiotic analysis and/or discourse analysis techniques, draw up a list of codes to enable your analysis. Conduct a visual analysis based on these codes. Describe which changes need to be made to improve on the analysis. Report on whether the proposed analysis would be able to answer your research question in a full study with further material. Students should not attempt to answer the theoretical research question but should reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the method, procedure and findings, and discuss this in the context of the relevant literature on methodology.
The 'results' will not be very representative as they will be based on a very small sample given this is a pilot! Do not make big claims on the basis of such a small pilot study, focus on the methodological implications of your pilot.
3.2 Interviewing
Identify a research question in the field of media and communications. Justify why interviewing is an appropriate methodology to answer the question. Design an interview guide. Identify an appropriate sample of respondents. Recruit three respondents and conduct an interview with each or, alternatively, conduct one focus group interview. Transcribe at least one interview or 60min of the focus group discussion. Conduct a brief analysis of the interview transcripts using a specified method of analysis. Report on whether the analyses would be able to answer the research question if you conduct sufficient interviews in a full study. Students should not attempt to answer the theoretical research question but should reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the method, procedure and findings, and discuss this in the context of the relevant literature on methodology.
The 'results' will not be very representative given the size of your sample so do not be tempted to make big claims and focus on discussing the methodological implications of the pilot. Students are expected to devote a substantial part of the discussion to the design of the interview guide.
It is essential that students discuss a method of analysis for the transcript data. This could be thematic analysis, narrative analysis, genre analysis or discourse analysis.
3.3 Critical Discourse Analysis
Identify a research question in the field of media and communications. Justify why discourse analysis is an appropriate methodology to answer the question. Select three to five texts relevant to your topic area. Select a particular method for analyzing the discourse (making the choice explicit) and conduct a systematic analysis. It is essential to demonstrate and make explicit how and using what criteria you have conducted the discourse analysis and to provide some evidence of how you have done this in the appendix. You need to make suggestions about how your discourse analyses could be improved. Discuss whether your analysis would be able to answer the research question in an in-depth study of the material. Students should not attempt to answer the theoretical research question but should reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the kind of discourse analysis you have selected, and consider this in the context of the relevant literature on methodology. Also discuss your analysis in the context of discourse theory and the relevant literature.
For this particular assignment the recommendation is to use the systematic discourse analysis method as suggested by Fairclough, paying particular attention to textual practice, discursive practice and socio-cultural practice.
In your discussion show discourse analysis would enable you to: i) illustrate the ideological work of texts in constructing a dominant version of social reality and positioning its audiences vis a vis this construction and, in so doing, ii) critically address theoretical issues and concerns in the discipline of Media and Communications. Report on how appropriate the method is to answer your research question by citing examples in the texts. Reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the method, procedure and findings.
3.4 Questionnaire, survey-design and pilot-testing
Identify a research question in the field of media and communications. Justify why surveying is an appropriate methodology to answer the question. Design a questionnaire based on the research question and relevant literature. Describe a plan of analysis which states which statistical methods you will use to answer your research question and which questionnaire items you will use for these purposes. Describe the sampling strategy and conduct a pilot study. Reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the method including the questionnaire and the sampling procedure, and discuss this in the context of the relevant literature on methodology. The emphasis in this assignment is on designing a questionnaire and doing a pilot study so as to improve the questionnaire. A pilot is usually conducted with about 10 to 15 respondents. A discussion of respondent feedback on which questions did not work or were confusing, whether something was missing, should be included in the essay. Students should not attempt to answer the theoretical research question but should reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the method.
The (statistical) 'results' will not be very representative as they will be statistically insignificant given your small sample! Do not make big claims on the basis of such a small pilot study. It is important to discuss how the questionnaire could be improved on the basis of your pilot. You should reflect on the kinds of statistical analysis you would conduct it if you had conducted the survey with a sufficiently large number of respondents.

3.5 Content analysis
Identify a research question in the field of media and communications. Justify why content analysis is an appropriate methodology to answer the question. Design a coding frame and explain the rationale for its content. Decide on a sampling strategy and collect data for a pilot of the coding frame (maximum n=30 items) from the media as appropriate. Apply the coding frame to the pilot data collected. Train a second coder to code some data independently and calculate the inter-coder reliability index coding (ICR). Describe the ICR for all the items (variables) separately, identify weak and strong variables, and modify the weak ones to improve their IRC score. Describe how you would analyse the data in a study with a sufficient number of items. Report on how the proposed analyses would allow you to answer the research question. Reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the method, procedure and findings, and discuss this in the context of the relevant literature on methodology. Students should not attempt to answer the theoretical research question but should reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the method.
The (statistical) 'results' will not be very representative as they will be statistically insignificant given your small sample! Do not make big claims on the basis of such a small pilot study, focus on the methodological implications of your pilot.
Appendices:

As appropriate, this should include any materials without which understanding or assessment of the research is impeded. While the appendices should not contain 'everything that might be relevant', you should include, at the least:




  • For Visual analysis: the images or image stills selected for analysis.

  • For Interviews: interview guide(s), one interview transcript.

  • For Content analysis: original coding frame and revisions, a selection of 5 of the texts that have been coded.

  • For Questionnaire, survey-design and pilot-testing: the questionnaire(s), descriptive statistics (means, frequencies, missing values) of the main variables in the questionnaire.

  • For Critical Discourse Analysis: the annotated texts selected for analysis.

Appendixes do not have to include the databases: that is, you should not include all the responses to your questionnaire nor the spreadsheet with all the codes given to the different texts in content analysis.


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