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Media & Communication Theory


Admission requirements



This course is an introduction to the field of mass media and mass communication with a focus on news media and journalism studies. It focuses on the way in which media mirror and shape our world. Therefore, we study and evaluate the processes that generate news and shape our social environment. Students will not only recognize the role of media in changing political, social and cultural dynamics on the global stage but also critique and analyze the variety of relationships between media and their audiences. The main aim of this course is to introduce students to the various dimensions of the (news)media so that they can independently and competently consider and criticize mass media content and policy. Next to a theoretical component the course also has an empirical component: we also learn to do a small scale research project with content analysis.

Course Objectives

After completion of this course, students are able to:

  • explain how various theories have evolved, the various perspectives included, and the relevance for today’s impact of media on society;

  • describe the interdisciplinary nature of journalism studies and its connections with other disciplines;

  • discuss the objects of journalism studies as a discipline;

  • analyze media from a social constructionist’s perspective;

  • discuss key concepts such as social construction, framing, social problems, objectivity;

  • apply the basics of qualitative and quantitative media content analysis;

  • critically reflect on every day news media;

  • demonstrate an understanding of the process by which social problems are constructed


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The first weeks will be characterized by a weekly theme that will be explored through lectures focusing on media theories followed by seminar sessions in which students elaborate on the theories discussed by applying these theories to examples from present day news media, brought in by students (video/radio fragments, news photographs, articles from news sites, blogs, etc.). In this way, we will cover both media theory and practice, visualy and textualy.

Next to these sessions in weeks 1 to 5, there will be a small scale research project in week 6 (no regular classes that week; students work in small groups on a research project). In week 7 they present their research results. Week 8 is for the final exam.

Assessment Method

  • Presentation on Media Theory (team: 19%) – weeks 1 – 5.

  • Small Scale Content Analysis Project including research presentation (video) + short research paper/ fact sheet (team: 35%) weeks 6 and 7.

  • Written test Media Theory; (choose 7 questions out of 10) (individual: 35%) – week 8.

  • Participation (individual, 11%)

Reading list



Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,