Media and Communication at Leicester

History of Media and Communications at Leicester

Media and Communications at Leicester has its origins in the Centre for Mass Communication Research which was established at Leicester in 1966.

The first of its kind in the UK, the Centre was created to develop research and postgraduate training in the study of all aspects of the media, taking a specific focus on the operations of media institutions and on the influence and effects of the media on society.

The Centre was founded by James D Halloran, and he remained its director until his retirement in 1991.

Foundational scholarship

Initially the Centre took a broadly critical, sociological approach to the study of the media, but over time opened up to a more multi-disciplinary approach, acknowledging that media and communication – or 'mass communication' – is more a field of study than the focus of a single academic discipline.

Halloran was a strong advocate of a non-media-centric and methodologically eclectic perspective, arguing too that history is the grandfather of communications research. Halloran was interested in the relationship between media and violence, and this was a focus of many of the Centre's research projects in the early years.

In 'The Effects of Television' (1970), Halloran argued that increasing levels of crime and violent behaviour were more likely to be the result of media depictions of unattainable, affluent lifestyles and the creation of unrealistic expectations among the poor than television images of violence.

Groundbreaking research

Another important and influential work from the Centre was 'Demonstrations and Communication' (James Halloran, Philip Elliott and Graham Murdock, 1970). This was the first book-length, empirically-based study of the British news media to be published in Britain.

A path-breaking analysis of the news coverage of the 1968 anti-Vietnam War street protests in London, the research combined newsroom observations and interviews with first-hand analysis of police and protester action during the actual protests.

The authors employed the novel concept of 'inferential structures' to help explain the way journalists made sense of events on behalf of their audiences.


Soon after its foundation, the Centre became known internationally as a site of academic excellence and was for many years (1972-1987) the headquarters of the International Association of Media and Communication Research.

As the field of research expanded, the Centre widened its academic horizons to draw on the work of those trained in economics, language and linguistics, political science, psychology and many other disciplines.

Postgraduate teaching

The first taught postgraduate degree in the field in Britain – the Mass Communications MA – was launched in 1978, attracting students from all over the world.

This degree, now one of several undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in media and communication at Leicester, continues to be extremely popular with international students.


Centre for Mass Communication Research

  • James D Halloran (1966 - 1991)
  • Annabelle Sreberny (1991-2003)
  • Ralph Negrine (2003-4)
  • Gillian Youngs (2004-5)

Department of Media and Communication

  • Barrie Gunter (2006 - 2012)
  • Peter Lunt (2012-2015)
  • Helen Wood (2015-2017)

In 2016, Media and Communication became Media, Communication and Sociology with Jason Hughes as Head of School.


Alumni and past members of research and teaching staff include: 

  • Oliver Boyd-Barrett
  • Simon Cottle
  • Paul Croll
  • Simon Cross
  • Guy Cumberbatch
  • David Deacon
  • Philip Elliott
  • Natalie Fenton
  • Peter Golding
  • Ramaswami Harindranath
  • Paul Hartman
  • Knut Helland
  • Dennis Howitt
  • Charles Husband
  • Dina Iordanova
  • Olga Linne
  • David Machin
  • Mirca Madianou
  • David Morrison
  • Robin McCron
  • Graham Murdock
  • Keith Negus
  • Chris Newbold
  • Henrik Ornebring
  • Chris Paterson
  • Michael Pickering
  • Karen Ross
  • Trine Syvertsen
  • James Stanyer
  • Pradip Thomas
  • Michael Tracey
  • Barry Troyna
  • Hilde Van den Bulck

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