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Social Media and Society

Level 1 (CQFW Level 4), 10 Credits.

Available Dates:

This course is currently not being offered in the academic year 2015 - 2016.

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Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter as social media platforms are changing social life. Or are they? From cyber bullying to collective action, social media are used and framed in diverse contexts in everyday life. The ubiquity of social media in the news, on television, and on our phones is indicative of their growing importance. This course aims to explore why and how we engage with social media within the broader context of the social world. It will introduce learners to the debates surrounding media technology, society, and social change. Apart from encouraging learners to sample social media, it will also equip them with the necessary critical learning skills to develop a general understanding of social media and their relation to social change.

Syllabus content

Week 1:

Social Media and You
Course requirements and method of assessment
The Historical Development of Social Media
Introductory key concepts for the course

Week 2:

Perspectives in Understanding Digital Media and Society
Technological Determinism
Social Construction of Technology
Social Shaping of Technology
Domestication of technology

Week 3:

Theories on computer-mediated communication (CMC)
Social Presence Theory
Social Context Cues Theory
Media Richness Model

Week 4:

Online Communities
Characteristics of online communities
Definitions and examples
Is there a difference between online and offline communities?

Week 5:

Social Networks
Social Networks and Social Networking Sites
Definitions and examples
Group presentation requirement to be discussed in this week
What are the differences between online communities and social networks, if any?

Week 6:

Social Media and Cultural Production
How are social media being used for self-expression and self-representation?
In what ways do social media shape various aspects of a society’s culture?
Privacy, Authenticity, and Participation

Week 7:

The Law and Citizens’ Use of Social Media
Freedom of the press, information, and expression
Examples where the use of the Internet have been penalised or curtailed

Week 8:

Social Media and the News
Community news websites, ‘hyperlocals’
Authenticity and Truth
Audience as Producers and News Sources

Week 9:

Collective Action and Collaboration
Political movements
Education and Learning

Week 10:

Conclusion: Assessing Social Media
Presentations and group discussion

Who is this course for?

Anyone with an interest in social media and its impact on society. By the end of the course you should be able to demonstrate knowledge of key approaches in understanding communication technology and society, demonstrate familiarity with concepts linked to social media, and demonstrate analytical skills using the approaches and concepts learned in the module.

Learning and Teaching

Learning and teaching are undertaken by means of small group work. This is a 10-credit course, so there will be two-hour meetings once a week (20 contact hours in all) which will include discussions and tutor-led activities. The aim is ensure that the classes are enjoyable and stimulating for all.

Coursework and Assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

There will be no formal examinations. The basis of assessment will be a Social Media Journal (c. 1500 words in total) and a short group presentation. You will be asked to write a weekly journal entry based on specific topics to be covered in the module. A guideline will be given in writing your journal entry. You can draw from your own experience, an item in the news, a photo, or any material. You will also work in small groups and choose an issue about social media. You can base your topic on the themes covered in the module. The group presentations will be around 10 minutes each.

Your work will be assessed by your tutor, who will offer you written reports which we hope you will find constructive. The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are flexible and are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.
Reading suggestions

Key texts

Web resources:

Library and Computing Facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University library and computing facilities. You can find out more about these facilities on our website under Student Information, or by ringing the Centre on
(029) 2087 0000.

Accessibility of Courses

Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and Dyslexia screening. Please contact the Centre on (029) 2087 0000 for an information leaflet.

Further Information

A range of further information can be found on our web site or in Choices. This includes the times and dates of courses and an explanation of accreditation and credit levels.