Creative Audiences

Module code: MS2004

Module outline

In this module, you will examine key developments in audience research and consider the cultural, social and economic significance of ‘the audience.’ We will explore how the concept of the audience has shifted over time, and how the vulnerable ‘dupes’ of the early mass audience became today’s digital ‘prosumers.’ In doing so, we will consider different theoretical approaches to the creativity of audiences, and you will gain a critical perspective on the ways that audiences have been denigrated, feared, courted, and celebrated over time.

We will examine what these changing notions of the audience tell us about the influence of the media, the regulation of media audiences, and the complex relationship between producers and consumers. And we will also consider whether, in an age of digital media and increasing personalisation and individualisation of media content, ‘the audience’ can still be seen to exist.

As well as exploring different theoretical approaches to the audience, you will study the methodological basis of audience studies through a series of key texts a range of case studies. You will also have an opportunity to develop your own critical and analytical skills through the production of a critical review of a piece of audience research.

Topics covered

  • ‘The audience’ as concept
  • Media effects and the experimental tradition
  • Sociological and cultural approaches to the audience
  • Feminist approaches to audience research
  • Audiences and the public sphere
  • Media fandom
  • Audiences and industry
  • New media audiences


  • 22 hours of lectures
  • 11 hours of seminars
  • 2 hours of tutorials
  • 115 hours of guided independent study


  • Essay, 2,000 words (60%)
  • Critical review, 1,000 words (40%)