Module code: SOC2087

Module Overview

An understanding of how audiences engage with media content is fundamental to the study of media and communication. This module supports students to develop a critical appreciation of the role played by audiences and users in contemporary media-saturated societies and to understand how people from diverse social positionings may engage actively with media in different ways. Students will learn about key developments in audience research, tracing changes in media environments, audience practices and key debates, disagreements and shifting priorities in the history of audience research. Students will explore international case studies from print to broadcast to digital and mobile technologies and will develop their understanding of a wide variety of methods of audience research.

Module provider


Module Leader

HINE Christine (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Audiences and users in media and communication

  • The long history of audiences: From passivity to activity Television and active audiences

  • Key voices in the field

  • New media and the challenge of changing audiences

  • DIY Audience Research

  • A transformative decade for transforming audiences

  • Mobiles, gaming and the Internet of Things: Where next for audiences?

  • Still a very Western field?

  • Why study audiences?

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Recorded group presentation 40
Coursework Essay 60

Alternative Assessment

Re-assessment of the recorded group presentation will comprise an individual recorded presentation, shorter and more restricted in scope but addressing the same substantive learning outcome.

Assessment Strategy

The module assessment strategy is designed to foster critical engagement with module content and to boost students' employability in working in groups and presenting in a variety of formats..


The summative assessment for this module consists of:


Assessment 1. Recorded group presentation 40% (addresses LO3 and LO5) – students will be asked to work in groups to develop and record a proposal for a piece of audience research, choosing and justifying appropriate research methods and theoretical framings for their proposal


Assessment 2. Essay 60% (addresses LO1, LO2, LO3 and LO4) – students will be asked to write an essay making critical use of relevant audience research literature, theories and methods. This will involve the application of the relevant lecture content in the module. The essay will assess students’ knowledge and critical analysis of key theories, arguments, paradigms and projects within the field whilst giving the opportunity to apply this to contemporary examples of their own choosing.


Formative assessment and feedback


Students will be given feedback during class discussions, and will be given the opportunity for feedback on a plan for their summative essay. Feedback on Assessment 1 will be directed at developing transferable skills and also at feedforward for Assessment 2.

Module aims

  • Enable students to appreciate the evolving nature of audiences and of audience research
  • Support students to develop an understanding of their key paradigms and theoretical traditions of audience research
  • Develop students¿ skills in critical evaluation of theories, concepts and methods in audience research
  • Encourage students to develop critical evaluation of published audience research
  • Develop students¿ skills in designing and presenting audience research projects

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Evaluate and describe the history of audiences and audience analysis including in the digital and datafied age KC
002 Develop arguments about key paradigms, phases and voices in audience research KC
003 Critically evaluate, describe and apply theories concepts and methods in the field KC
004 Critically evaluate published audience research projects using a range of methods across a range of media platforms, genres and formats KC
005 Design and present an audience/user research project PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to: enable students to engage critically with the module content and reading, encouraging active participation and independent thinking.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  •  Lectures, Seminar discussion and group activities. These in-class sessions are supported by additional resources provided via SurreyLearn for students to explore in guided learning tasks in support of their appreciation of contemporary audience concerns.

  •  Group presentation support meetings. In preparation for the group presentation each group will be offered individual meetings to refine their approach and support group working practices.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: SOC2087

Other information

The School of Sociology is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:

Employability - Students will develop a range of transferrable skills relevant to media and communications careers including the ability to understand how audiences actively engage with media content. The group presentation task develops students skills of working in teams and their ability to present information orally in conjunction with suitable visual materials. These communication skills are transferable to a variety of real world contexts

Digital capabilities   - Students will be developing their understanding of audiences and users in the context of a variety of digital communications technologies including apps and social media. They will be exploring the changing concepts of audience and user within the evolving digital landscape. Students will also be required to engage with digital information technologies (such as Surrey Learn, Surrey Search, Google Scholar) to access and utilise academic and media sources for class tasks and assignments.

Global and cultural capabilities – The module has been designed to draw on both local and global examples to illustrate approaches to understanding audiences and will include reflection on the extent to which research approaches need to be adapted to take account of different global contexts.

Sustainability - Students will be equipped with theoretical perspectives to enable them to explore how audiences engage with materials including coverage of current affairs and social challenges

Resourcefulness and Resilience   - Group work requires resilience in the face of different strengths and different styles of working: students will be supported to develop ways to work effectively in groups, through resources to guide good working practices and meetings to support groups as they develop their ideas. Students will be supported to develop their theoretical understanding through reflection on their own audience experiences and on case study material that they explore in their written work.



Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Media and Communication BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2025/6 academic year.