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 MA in Media Studies

The closing date for receipt of applications is Friday 25th May 2018.

It has never been more important to understand the role media play in contemporary society. The Master of Arts in Media Studies offers an opportunity to gain a deep understanding of diverse media themes and to carry out supervised original research.

The Master of Arts in Media Studies programme is open to students from a variety of backgrounds, as well as those with previous experience of the subject. However, an ability to study independently and the possession of an open, curious mind are important requisites at this level of study.

The programme is jointly offered by Mary Immaculate College, Limerick and the University of Limerick. Teaching takes place in daytime on both campuses, depending upon the modules chosen by students and availability. The MA is delivered over three semesters in one year. The first two are comprised of taught modules, and the focus of the final, summer semester is upon individual research and dissertation preparation. Student’s interests are matched to those of department staff, who then supervise the research project.

Staff of the Media and Communications Department are highly respected researchers within their specialist fields. The portfolio of taught modules offered in the MA programme draw upon their expertise and knowledge of current academic debates within the discipline. Department staff also supervise a number of research masters and PhDs, and contribute towards the wider academic community through conferences and publications.

Some flexibilty with regards to the scheduling of classes may be possible to facilitate students who are working full time, so please let us know your needs when you apply.

Páid Ó Lionaird, presenter with TG4 and Dan Dwyer, lecturer in An tAcadamh, NUI, Galway at their graduation with Dan's son, Ruadhán in the background

Programme Aims and Objectives

The programme familiarises students with current issues and developments in Irish and international mass media and mass media theory, situating the analysis of Irish media within the context of post-Independence Irish society, culture and identity.

Students develop the ablility to analyse structures, trends and developments in the mass media and to undertake research, using a variety of methodologies, on key aspects of media production, texts and consumption.

The programme also aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills required to advance to doctoral degree studies and to enhance career opportunities in the media industry and other professional fields.

While the course is mostly theory driven, some modules offer tuition in and assessment based on production. For example, some students learn to make a radio documentary and to master multi-track sound editing. The option to complete the masters by writing a full film script rather than a traditional dissertation has proven popular in the past, particularly with those coming from an industry background.

Programme of Study

The MA programme is interdisciplinary, drawing on theories and applications from a range of academic fields, including sociology, history, cultural studies, literary theory and linguistics. It seeks to analyse the historical, social and cultural contexts in which the media have been produced; how meaning is generated through the interplay of image, word and sound in media texts; and how the media impact upon their audiences as well as being invested with significance by those audiences.

Fulltime students complete six modules over two semesters and those taking the programme in part time mode can divide this load over four semesters. Students also complete a dissertation of 15,000-20,000 words on an approved topic. Alternatively, students may opt to write a film script, under close supervison and this has proven very popular in the past.

The programme’s teaching and learning methods include lectures, seminars, presentations by guest lecturers, individual consultation with relevant lecturers, guided reading and written assignments. Classes will be taught during the day in 2017-18 in almost all cases but lecturers understand the demands working for a living places on students and we are happy to hear from you about your work schedule and home life needs, when you first apply.

Students are required to attend a series of postgraduate research methodology seminars as part of the preparation and presentation of dissertations, and to submit dissertations by the stipulated deadlines.

Programme Structure

Full time mode (one year):

Students must complete 6 modules, over two semesters. These make up 50% of the course requirements, the dissertation/film script options make up the remainder of the marks. The following is the full suite of modules that students may draw from, the course team chooses the modules to be offered each year based on students' interests and on institutional resources.

Part time mode (two years):

Students can take as many or as few modules in each semester as they choose but must have completed six modules before graduation.

Dissertation to be completed by the end of semester 4.

Graduate Diploma in Media Studies (one year)

This is a new addition to the suite of programmes on offer and enables students who do not undertake a dissertation to take six modules and to graduate with a postgraduate diploma.


  • • Critical Issues in Media Theory
  • • Mass Media Research Methods
  • • Radio: Invisible Medium
  • • Television Drama: Industry, Form & Audience
  • • Ireland and Film
  • • News and News Media
  • • Researching Irish Media Audiences
  • • Sociolinguistics of Irish Media
  • • Women and Ageing in Popular Culture
  • • Scriptwriting for TV Drama and Film
  • • Music and Sound in Popular Culture
  • • Media, Sport and Popular Culture
  • • Popular Music Studies
  • • Sound, Media & Society
  • • Community Media Engagement
  • • The Development of Irish Media: a Theoretical Overview


Mass Media Research Methods

This module introduces students both to methods specific to mass media research and to more general social science research methods. Students familiarise themselves with various academic papers in current mass media research journals which utilise the specific methods under investigation. By applying these methods themselves, they acquire the ability to write up research correctly in a form appropriate to the method in use as well as becoming accomplished in the application of these methods as required.

The Development of Irish Media: A Theoretical Overview

Provides an overview of the development of the Irish media (print, radio, television and film) over the last 100 years and critically reviews and assesses their development in the context of European and global media history.

Radio: the Invisible Medium

Radio is a rich site of investigation for students interested in conducting their own research in this academically neglected area of media and communication studies. The Irish experience provides the bulk of examples offered on the course and the three sectors of Irish radio are described and analysed. The module focuses particularly on sound, programming formats, production processes, radio’s unique relationship with listeners, the potential of radio as a tool for social and educational development, and its future in the digital age.

Ireland and Film

Covering the main developments in Irish Film history, this module concentrates mainly on the period from 1978 to the present. It examines the key themes and tropes defining Irish Film today, focusing on how Irish Film has negotiated the tensions and interplays between global economic and cultural forces and tendencies and the need to represent and critically explore the ‘local’ in Irish culture and society. A key thematic feature is the critical assessment of Irish film-makers’ attempts to plot a course between the historically divergent definitions of ‘film as art’ and ‘film as business’.

Television Drama: Industry, Form and Audience

This module evaluates current theoretical debates concerning the history, specificity and cultural meanings of television drama. It compares, contrasts and assesses a variety of critical approaches to the analysis of television drama’s production, social circulation, consumption and meanings. Syllabus topics include the following: the evolution of form and aesthetics in early television drama of the 1940s and 1950s; the divergent and changing industrial and social contexts of drama production; conceptualising the history of television drama;  ‘doing television textual analysis’ - an overview of critical approaches; the impact of channel branding, DVD technologies and ‘television on demand’ on the changing experience of audience reception; US network TV versus subscription TV drama; the politics of gender, class and race in contemporary US television drama; television writers as ‘authors’; contemporary television audiences - the significance of fandom; memory, affect and identity in in television fandom - psychodynamic and related perspectives.

Scriptwriting for TV Drama and Film

This module offers students a comprehensive, practical introduction to scriptwriting for film and TV drama. Drawing on theoretical insights provided by other modules, students will acquire a theoretical and analytical competence in dramatic structure in film, script development and the distinction between writing for film and television. They will develop original ideas into script form, addressing and acquiring skills in narrative, storyboarding, dialogue and style. Guest lectures from industry professionals will be integral to the module.

Sound, Media and Society

The growth of academic interest in sound research over the last decade has been so pronounced that it has been described as a ‘sonic turn’ in the humanities. Whether in the form of music, noise pollution, natural ambience, commercial product, as an artistic or political gesture, this once neglected field is now regarded as central to an understanding human experience, communication and culture.

This module will introduce key current debates about sound, drawing upon approaches developed in media studies, psychoacoustics, contemporary arts, acoustic ecology and music.

Beginning with the physiology of sound perception, the module explores the social significance of sonic environments, including family life, protest movements and workplace ‘muzak’. We will examine in detail the relationship between image and sound in film, experimental ‘sound art’, music for gaming and the soundscape recording movement. Amongst other forms of assessment, students will be encouraged to demonstrate their understanding through the production of a soundtrack to a short piece of video.

Popular Music Studies

Popular Music has been an important component of Media Studies since the 1970’s and has become a field with its own research issues and techniques. Studying Popular Music provides insight to questions concerning identity, technology, industry, pleasure and social discourse. It considers politics, commodification and the role of nostalgia in contemporary society.

This module introduces students to the subject by considering core academic approaches to Popular Music Studies, from Marxist critiques to post-modern analyses and current interests in online fan communities.

We will explore changing practices of production, dissemination and consumption to better understand the contradiction of a mass-produced medium that can nevertheless be of great significance in the lives of individuals. Issues of race, gender, globalisation, and dance music will be examined through current literature on these specialist areas. Students will be encouraged to carry out their own study of a local music ‘scene’ alongside other forms of assessment.

Community Media Engagement

The aim of this module is to enable suitably experienced students to work with a community-based organisation on a practical media project. This might (for example) include field sound collection, video production, app or web design. This practical work should be fully documented, cogniscent of appropriate theoretical and ethical considerations, and supervised by a departmental staff member.

Students with an interest in taking this module would require deliberation and prior approval by the Department of Media and Communication Studies and the community group before any engagement commenced.

Ireland and Film

The syllabus covers the main developments in the history of Irish Film, concentrating in particular on the period from 1978 to the present. It examines the development of a critically acclaimed indigenous ‘film as art’ industry; the ‘film as business’ approach which reflects the local versus the global debate and analyses the key themes and tropes which define Irish Film today.

For additional information contact:

Dr. Rosemary Day
Dept. of Media and Communication Studies,
Mary Immaculate College,
University of Limerick,
South Circular Road,
Phone +353 (0)61-204327
Email: rosemary.day@mic.ul.ie


Jeannette Ferguson
Dept. of Media and Communication Studies,
Mary Immaculate College,
University of Limerick,
South Circular Road,
Phone +353 (0)61-204396
Email: jeannette.ferguson@mic.ul.ie or mcs@mic.ul.ie

The last date for receipt of completed applications is the end of May, however any applications received after this closing date may be considered depending on the number of places available on the course.

The closing date for receipt of applications is Friday 25th May 2018.

Fees (EU and non-EU)

For more information about fees for this programme, please go to the postgraduate fees 2017-18 page – click here

How to Apply

  1. Download and complete the application form - click here
    • The application form must also include your university transcripts.
    • In the case of non-native English speakers, a copy of IETLS is also required, or equivalent.
  2. Return the application form plus application fee* by email to: admissions@mic.ul.ie or by post to:
    • Admissions Office, Mary Immaculate College, South Circular Road, Limerick, Ireland
    • Telephone: +353 61 204348

Mary Immaculate College, South Circular Road, Limerick, Tel:+35361 204300  V94VN26

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