In the spring term students choose three academic option modules each lasting half a term. In addition, students undertake a group project module.

Creative group project

Students work in small groups to make a cultural product or practical piece of communication which explores the theoretical ideas introduced in the core academic modules. The module gives students the opportunity to develop their group working skills, to consolidate their understanding of the theoretical concepts covered in the core modules, and to reflect on the relevance of theory to the production of creative projects.

Academic options


Documentaries show us situations and events that are recognisably part of a realm of shared experience: the historical world as we know it, or as we believe others to encounter it. It is this status of documentary film as evidence from the world that legitimates its usage as a source of knowledge. But while documentaries offer pleasure and appeal, their own structure remains virtually invisible, their own rhetorical strategies and stylistic choices largely unnoticed. Documentary films raise a rich array of issues: legal, philosophical, ethical, political, historiographic and aesthetic. This module looks at these issues within the context of viewing and discussing some of the seminal works in the history of the documentary film. It also brings a critical eye to recent developments in factual TV—video diaries, Reality TV, docu-soaps—which raise, in particular, questions of subjectivity, embodiment and privacy in the public space of television.


Museums, Heritage and Science

This module explores the issues surrounding construction of meaning in visual and spatial media. It examines the relationship between viewer, author, object and narrative using museums as an example. Themes include the meaning of artefacts; politics and institutions; questions of interpretation and the consequences of choosing a single narrative; the problems of presenting complex and controversial science.


Story-telling lies at the heart of nearly all communication. Even ‘objective’ genres of media communication, such as news, are all about telling stories and these narrative structures construct and constrain the way we see the world. This module introduces key concepts from narrative theory in order to inform students’ own narrative writing as well as raising important theoretical issues. Examples are drawn from a range of all genres and media, from TV documentaries to fairytales, and the module also explores the extent to which scientific discourse is itself narratival.

Science and Fiction

From Frankenstein providing a vocabulary for narratives opposing genetic modification to Iron Man inspiring a new generation of engineers, throughout history scientific development and the public understanding of science have been closely intertwined with fiction. This module looks at the role of fiction in science communication, and the ways science and fiction have shaped each other over the centuries, covering literature, film, theatre, and games. We will consider the relationship between fiction, science, and truth; the value (and limits) of fictional entertainment in a scientific context; and the ways in which fiction shapes the science research and media agendas.

Science and Policy

Scientists and politicians often call for evidence-based policy-making. This module examines the assumptions that underpin this goal. Topics include the Haldane Principle, models of policy-making, public and political credibility, scientific uncertainty and risk, the precautionary principle, the role of values, and the various ways that scientists seek to influence public policy. The module asks one key question: what role can – and should – science play in public policy-making?

Science Communication and Global Justice

This module examines the conflict inherent in the notion of ‘development’ and how this impacts on the relationship between countries in the ‘Global North’ and the ‘Global South’. The module examines the power of language to shape people’s perceptions of the world, applying these ideas to real-life examples of social change and exploring how the intersection of science, power, politics and language shape the biggest problems of our time. The aim is to consider how science communicators can avoid entrenching the same power dynamics that the development sector is trying to dismantle.

Sounds, signs and meanings in radio

This module begins with a brief history of radio from Marconi to podcasting and then turns to the analysis of the medium’s primary code (speech) and secondary codes (non-speech sounds such as music, sound effects and silence). How the codes and conventions of radio convey meaning is explored further through the analysis of radio drama and the devices producers employ to create a sense of space and depth. Radio is a highly trusted medium and yet it is also one of the easiest to fake. The module finishes by considering this apparent contradiction and the ethical difficulties programme-makers face as advocates for the audience.

Note: the modules listed here are those offered in the current academic year. The programme is substantially the same from year to year but there may be some changes.