We are continually dealing with representations of the world, through cinema, television, magazines, the internet, and through how people speak to each other. What should we think of the relation between these representations and the reality they attempt to represent?
Our BA Philosophy and Media degree allows you to learn more about how various media function and to examine the philosophical issues surrounding our attempts to represent the world. You’ll develop practical and theoretical knowledge of how various media techniques are implemented, whilst exploring and challenging the assumptions that frame the way we think, act and see the world around us.
In your first year, you’ll be introduced to a variety of ways in which communication can be achieved. You will learn to think critically by examining reasoning and persuasion and how that might be inflected by the medium in which it is conveyed, including the use of rhetoric and propaganda. You’ll also study social and political philosophy, covering topics such as freedom of speech, as well as examine the nature of knowledge and reality. There is also a philosophy module dedicated to exploring the scope and limits film and literature in what they can represent about reality.
All our philosophy lecturers are active researchers, so you’ll share the excitement of doing original work in a supportive and highly-rated academic community. Our Philosophy team is in the top 15 in the Guardian League Table 2019 and rates as one of the 100 best Philosophy departments worldwide in the 2017 QS rankings. The media staff are academics and practitioners in the creative industries and will give you the knowledge and understanding to be successful for a career in media.
In your second year, you’ll be able to select areas on which to focus, such as on influential works of philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and social and political philosophy. There is also a philosophy of art module, which tackles the question of the relation between artistic representations (in various media) and reality. You’ll also gain knowledge of research methods in the communications industry and learn about publishing.
In your final year, you’ll delve deeper into the media industry and into more specialist areas of Philosophy, including the opportunity to develop your understanding of the nature of communication in the philosophy of language module, or on the nature of the representation of women in the module on feminist philosophy.
A flexible programme of study, allowing you to concentrate on areas you find especially interesting
An exceptional academic team, conducting internationally renowned research
Stimulating, innovative courses that allow you to make rewarding connections between two disciplines
CV-building potential through work placements and extra-curricular activities
I certainly developed professionalism and employability through studying Philosophy, primarily through the methods of rational and logical problem solving. I acquired a skill that is useful in whatever field one works in. However, it is enterprise that I most notably improved on while at Herts.
I had never really considered starting a businesses or working for myself, but while studying Philosophy (particularly my Masters by Research and my undergraduate dissertation) I realised I was learning self-management and combining this with my new proficiency at problem solving sent me down a new path. Since leaving Herts I have set up multiple small business which are growing healthily.
This individuality has really helped me find out what I want to do in life.
BA(Hons) Philosophy 2010-2013, MA(Res) in Philosophy 2013-2015
Our philosophy students benefit from being part of a lively and active academic community. You’ll learn through formal courses and extracurricular seminars, while our small group teaching helps you to find your feet in the academic environment. There are plenty of opportunities to discuss critical issues with staff and fellow students, including an optional residential weekend each year.
In Media, the delivery of teaching varies according to the characteristics of each module. Many are taught via weekly lectures and weekly seminars. Workshops are used for modules where the degree of practical skills taught is enhanced by the supervision of experts in their field. Attainment of learning outcomes is also assessed in a range of formats. Sometimes you will have to present the findings of your research to your fellow students in the seminars. You will be expected to contribute to online discussions and to download and read lecture notes from StudyNet, our virtual learning environment.
Taking a year’s study abroad is an excellent opportunity to broaden your understanding of the world. Living in another country offers fresh perspectives and helps create global citizens. Recently our philosophy students have studied in the USA, Canada, Japan and South Korea, enhancing their learning, building their confidence and gaining a greater appreciation of other cultures and societies.
We live in a world of persuasion. Advertisers would persuade us to buy their products while politicians press their policies on us. In personal life too, others want us to see things their way. We, of course, want others (colleagues, friends and family) to agree with us, to be persuaded by our arguments. Rhetoric is the art of persuasive speech and writing. It has been studied both for academic interest and for its practical, business and legal usefulness since ancient times. This module will explore the reasons why some persuasive efforts work while others do not. It will develop your ability to judge when you ought to be persuaded by the arguments of others and to present your own views in a way that increases their persuasive force.
Philosophy of Film and Literature - 15 Credits
The central theme of the module is to investigate what it is possible for film and literature to represent. How do we establish what is true in a fiction? Can the impossible happen in fiction? How, if at all, do we manage to engage with fictions that we take to be metaphysically or morally problematic (such as H.G.Wells' The Time Machine or Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita)? In what sense can film and literature explore not only how things actually are but how things could have been? Is there a difference between what can be represented in film and what can be represented in literature? We tackle these questions by engaging with various films and works of literature to see how they fit within a philosophical framework for thinking about them.
Introduction to Media Communications - 15 Credits
The aim of this module is to provide an insight to the various fields of media practice and communication studies. It will also introduce students to some of the key theories used in understanding media cultures. Students will learn about different economic and political structures that underlay the UK media system and engage with some of the conceptual frameworks for understanding media communications.
The module is structured in three parts. In the first sessions, students are introduced to the basics of media communications. The sessions might cover topics such as the different types of media and models of communications. The second part – Audiences, Industry and Politics – takes a closer look at Media Effects and Audiences, News Values, media biases as well as industry structures. The final part will enable student to explore some of the key theorists that have written on media, for example Marshall McLuhan and Stuart Hall.
Visual Communication - 15 Credits
This module provides students with computing and communication skills which will form a basis for future study in New Media Publishing. The module is appropriate for students with little computing experience but it also provides those with prior knowledge with the opportunity of enhancing and extending that knowledge. The module content includes-
1. -the production of a number of images using a graphics package;
2. -the consideration of design issues;
3. -the consideration of the way in which images convey ideas;
4. -the restrictions and potential of using graphics on the Web;
5. -the planning and conceptual development of a graphics project.
Interactive Media - 15 Credits
This module provides students with experience in the creation of interactive media content which should prove useful in subsequent Media modules. The module is appropriate for students with some computing experience who have completed Visual Communication but also provides those with prior knowledge with the opportunity of enhancing and extending that knowledge. The module content includes:
1. the development of interactive animations skills using an animation package
3. a further look at on-screen design issues
4. the creation of a basic mobile content as a vehicle for an interactive animation
5. the principles and terminology of interactive media
6. more advanced use of an image manipulation package
Global Media and Society - 15 Credits
This module considers the relationship between the media and their social context. Throughout the module students will discuss the ways in which the media reflect and shape social attitudes and challenge their own assumptions about society and the media. Through discussions of issues such as class, race and gender this module will consider how different groups are represented in mediated images. The module will also examine the public role of the media and students will be asked to think analytically and critically about concepts such as free press, media impartiality or bias, and the relationship of the media with commercial and political institutions. The module further analyses different Global media systems, organisations and institutions and allows students to make a series of comparisons between local and international media systems. It places an emphasis on the relationships between products and the socio-political construction of their different audiences.
Mind, Knowledge and Reality - 15 Credits
Sometimes we misperceive the world. Sometimes, whilst asleep, we take ourselves to be doing things which we are not in fact doing. And, furthermore, there is no evidence we could bring to bear which would eliminate the possibility that an evil demon is continually deceiving us about how the world is. To what extent does all of this undermine our claims to know anything? What is the link between reality and the way we perceive it? Can we at least know that we have a mind, if not a body? What is the relationship between the mind and the body? What is the relationship between mind and body and being a person? What does it take the remain the same person over a lifetime? Indeed, how can anything undergo change and yet remain the same thing?
Ethics - 15 Credits
Can you be harmed by something without ever experiencing it as a harm? Is what we experience all that should matter to us? What should we value? What is an ethical dilemma and is there a good way to resolve them? Can you be held morally responsible for something which is to some extent not within your control? To what extent should you be held morally responsible for anything? Could you eschew morality altogether? Do you ever act altruistically? What are we even doing when we make ethical judgements?
Social and Political Philosophy - 15 Credits
How should our society function and what implications does this have for the individual? How should goods (e.g. property, services, rights, liberties, power) be distributed in society? On what basis can some people claim ownership of property? What is exploitation and how might it be addressed? What is equality? On what basis can someone 'in authority' tell me what (or what not) to do? And if I don't do as they say, on what basis can I be punished for it? What is a legitimate way to protest against a state? What are rights? Do all humans have rights or are some to be excluded? What are our obligations to future generations, to non-human animals, and to the environment in general?
The Meaning of Life - 15 Credits
Does anything give meaning to life? Does the fact that we will die render our striving to achieve anything of significance ultimately futile, even ridiculous? Would God’s existence or non-existence have any bearing on an answer to this question? Does it even make sense to ask about the meaningfulness of our lives? Might we better approach the meaning of life through thinking about what it would take for activities within a lifetime to have meaning?
Graduate Skills - 0 Credits
You will be offered a variety of employment enhancing workshops and online activities such as interview skills workshops, personality profiling and career planning in order to improve your employment prospects after graduation and make you aware of current areas of strength and weakness in relation to employability.
You will also have the opportunity to learn about self-employment options, graduate schemes and will attend speaker sessions with successful professionals in areas of employment appropriate for Humanities graduates so you can learn about the skills and attributes required for these areas and how to enhance your prospects of entering such areas.
You will be required to undertake a certain number of activities chosen by you from a career “menu” and to reflect on what they have learnt in order to complete the module successfully.
Research Methods in Media Communications - 15 Credits
This module teaches the basic principles of research in media and the means by which to devise research questions and select appropriate methodologies. It will also give a detailed account of how to structure and write effective and informative research report. Students will be introduced to a range of different methodologies, both qualitative and quantitative.
They will learn how to choose a research topic, conduct a literature review, and develop an appropriate research plan. The module covers all key aspects of media and communication, including analysis of media production, media texts, and audience studies. It further offers specific guidance and instruction on a systematic application of a range of research methods, and addresses methods of sampling and data collection, including interviews, questionnaires and focus group discussions, as well as approaches to online research.
The Publishing Industry - 15 Credits
The Publishing Industry aims to provide students with an insight into the structures, challenges and opportunities that are present in today’s publishing industries, from entertainment magazines and books to the world of academic publishing. The module complements the other media modules by looking at this significant media industry. Moreover, it enables students to understand the international dimension of publishers operating on a global scale, learn how to develop promotional strategies in order to market publications and explore the criteria and issues related to making editorial decisions. Students will be able to engage with both the theoretical concepts and the practical aspects of the various sectors of the publishing industry.
Themes in Plato's Republic - 15 Credits
If you could get away with morally unjust behaviour, why should you act morally? What would an 'ideal society' be like? What is the relationship between justice in the individual, and justice in society? This course investigates several major themes in Plato's philosophy. After an introduction to the importance of Socrates and the nature of Socratic enquiry, we shall focus predominantly upon the Republic - one of the most important texts in the history of western thought - in which the above questions are central. The course will aim to show connections between Plato's metaphysics and theory of knowledge, and his ethics, political thought and philosophy of art and literature. Students will develop their skills in reading, assessing and advancing arguments.
The Right and The Good - 15 Credits
Is happiness the only thing of value? According to Utilitarianism, my moral duty is to promote happiness. What do we mean by "happiness"? If our moral duty is to promote happiness does this mean that we are justified in adopting any means, including killing, that might promote happiness? Kant is one philosopher who considers that we should value human beings in their own right and this introduces constraints on what we are morally justified in doing. We have duties to assist and also not to harm other human beings. We study these two theories by looking at Mill's ‘Utilitarianism’ and Kant's ‘Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals’. Application of these theories to moral dilemmas chosen by students will form the topic of the presentation. For example, is it ever morally right to use violence or terrorism in the pursuit of peace? Should we ever assist anyone to commit suicide?
Philosophy of Mind - 15 Credits
What are mental states? How do they relate to human actions? What is consciousness? Is there a real difference between the mental and the physical? This course explores philosophical approaches to understanding the nature of mind which range from dualism to strong forms of materialism. Students will be trained in the use of relevant terminology and will develop their skills in reading, assessing and advancing arguments. Students will be assessed on their knowledge and understanding of at least two approaches/issues in the philosophy of mind, their use of relevant terminology and their ability to produce structured arguments, which anticipate possible replies, in the form of essays.
Knowledge and Discovery - 15 Credits
What kind of justification is required to be able to say not just that we believe something but that we know it? Must we be able to cite reasons for believing something before we can be said to know it, or is it enough for those beliefs to have been generated in a reliable way? Must knowledge rest on a foundation that is immune from error, or are beliefs justified by being part of a network of mutually supporting beliefs? We shall discuss the extent to which the particular observations we make give us reason to believe (or disbelieve) general claims about the world and, further, what counts as a good explanation for why that thing has happened. We shall consider not just beliefs about those things we can see with our own eyes but whether there is any reason to believe in those things which we cannot observe directly (e.g., the very small and the very distant).
Philosophy of Art - 15 Credits
We go to museums, read novels, listen to music, talk about art. But what is art? In this module, we survey the main theories of art throughout history, observing as we go along, that while each theory has added to our understanding of art, it has not defined it once and for all. At the end of the survey, we shall ask whether a comprehensive definition is possible, or even necessary to our understanding of art. The survey will take us through passages from authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Tolstoy, Hume, Kant, Collingwood, Wittgenstein, Danto, Dickie and Wollheim. We will ask ourselves: Is art is a matter of personal taste or are there intersubjective criteria in the determination of art? Where is the boundary between art and craft? How is art related to morality? Is Tracy Emin's My Bed art; if so, is it good art? What makes anything art?
Metaphysics - 15 Credits
Metaphysics asks the most general questions about the most fundamental features of the world. How should we understand space, time and causation? Does time flow? Does the future already exist? Is space a substance? Is it possible for me to do something now so as to affect what happened in the past? What are things and what does it take for them to persist over time? What is it for things to have properties, such as being red? What are properties? Do they exist in the same way that the things that have them do? What else exists? Does reality extend beyond what is actual?
Philosophies of Religion - 15 Credits
This module focuses on the philosophies of religion that arise from the analytic (Anglo-American), European, and Asian (especially Buddhist) traditions. Its primary focus is a body of philosophical texts on religion by classic thinkers from these diverse traditions.
Through these writings, you will be invited to consider how such different philosophical perspectives approach a series of questions they have in common, questions such as: What role do happiness and suffering play in religious thinking and practice? What is the relevance of the body and of embodiment to religion? What role is played by experience in religious faith and practice? How do reason and faith relate to each other? What goal is served by religious language? Is there such a thing as a distinctively philosophical approach to religion, given the differences between these diverse traditions?
Virtues, Vices and Ethics - 15 Credits
The primary focus of this module is a body of writing, primarily by contemporary thinkers, on specific personal virtues and corresponding vices.
We shall reflect upon such 'everyday' issues as pride, humility, gratitude, love, hope, patience and forgiveness. You will be invited to consider the contribution that both philosophy and religion have made to our understanding of the virtues.
An important part of the module will be to ask, in the light of contemporary writings, what difference religious perspectives might make to secular understandings of the nature of virtue and vice, and the implications of this for what the ‘good life’ for human beings might be. The module will typically draw on writings from more than one religious tradition.
Magazine Design - 15 Credits
There is more to magazine design than learning a software package. As well as giving hands-on systematic software training, this module unfolds various aspects of design for the page, including the use of typography, colour and images. The module builds confidence in the design process through presenting a clear understanding of layout and visual conventions, information design and contemporary visual style.
Students undertake thorough analysis and evaluation of a range of examples. They are equipped to make sound aesthetic judgements in printed and electronic material.
Assessments are real-life publishing projects which engage students in a problem solving process, building experience essential for professional work. By the end of the module students will have developed a portfolio which they can show to a prospective employer.
Video Feature - 15 Credits
An important aspect of digital convergence is the use of video by media outlets to spark public dialogue and generate reader participation. This module is designed to give students understanding and skills to make effective videos. Students will look at current practitioners such as Mike Kepka at the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times 'Op-Docs' group and the MIT Open Documentary Lab. They will also examine the work of more traditional documentary makers, such as Errol Morris, Kim Longinotto and Nick Broomfield. There is, according to media artist Marilyn Freeman, “a digital storm that won’t let up—of cat videos and self-surveillance videos and any thing or moment imaginably filmable”. To stand out from the crowd, students must develop media literacy and skills in critical reflection. As there is an art of storytelling, students will be guided towards a clear understanding of the art of digital storytelling.
Logic and Philosophy - 15 Credits
Logic and philosophy have been intimately connected since ancient times. Logic provides some conceptual tools which can be very helpful in clarifying ideas and developing convincing arguments. But, as you will see in the module, the ideas and arguments which can be expressed depend on which system of logic is adopted. In learning elements of various systems of logic, we will consider the philosophical issues raised by them. Which ideas can be expressed in logic? Might we lose something in translation when expressing ideas in a logical language rather than in English? Are there any sentences which are neither true nor false? To what extent can logic help in deciding what we should believe in? Many of these issues are at the cutting edge of contemporary philosophy.
App Design - 15 Credits
At the end of this course you will be able to research, plan, and design mock-ups of apps for mobile devices using current software. You will be able to explore the contextual relationship between apps and mobile responsive websites. During the course you will complete market and competitor research for enterprising projects, and develop an understanding of (a) current practice and (b) the user experience through the creation of visual planning for your app. Working as part of a small team, you will conceptualise and develop your own app for pitching to a potential investor.
New Media Branding - 15 Credits
This module is designed to give you knowledge of branding and identity from the perspective of New Media Publishing. Through the use of vector graphics and layout software you will learn to produce a collection of professional documents such as CVs and business cards which have a consistent identity across a number of media platforms. You will also learn about professional branding used by companies and produce their own style guides which apply basic design principles such as consistency, repetition, alignment and position to logos, text and other visual design elements.
Aristotle P - 15 Credits
Is there a method to philosophy? Are we rational animals? Do all living things have a purpose? What is the good life or is there more than one? Is ethics primarily concerned with virtue? These questions, which are still of relevance today, will be explored by an examination of Aristotle's central works.
Nietzsche, Genealogy and Morality - 15 Credits
Nietzsche famously claimed that 'God is dead'. But what does he mean by this? What ramifications would the 'death of God' have for morality and human flourishing? What would a 'Nietzschean' view of self and world look like? And what religious responses to Nietzsche's challenge are possible? With these questions in mind, this module investigates key aspects of Nietzsche's thought. Typically, after an introduction to his styles of philosophizing, the 'hermeneutics of suspicion', and his 'moral perfectionism', we shall focus upon his influential critique of morality. We shall investigate his account of ressentiment, guilt and 'bad conscience', alongside central Nietzschean ideas such as the will to power, eternal recurrence and 'self-overcoming'. We'll also consider some possible critical responses to his worldview. The central text will be On the Genealogy of Morality.
Philosophy of Language - 15 Credits
Marks, sounds and gestures can all have meaning. But what is it for them to have meaning and how do they manage to have it? Is the meaning of my words to be analysed in terms of my intentions to communicate with another or the conventions I subscribe to when using words? In what way is meaning related to truth and my being warranted in asserting what I say? What other things can we do with words than state truths? How should we understand metaphorical uses of language? How do names and descriptions in particular manage to pick out objects in the world? Are some things I say true solely in virtue of the meanings of the words I use? Is there anything that fixes what it is that I do mean when I use words, or is meaning, to some extent, indeterminate? Can a study of language tell us anything about reality?
Philosophy of Psychology - 15 Credits
‘Blindsighters’ can judge with around 90% accuracy whether experimenters are showing them either a cross or a circle, and are able to discriminate colours, despite being completely blind due to a form of brain damage. The job of philosophers of psychology is to settle what this phenomenon, and related ones, means for the nature of the mind. Does it show that blindsighters ‘see’ colours etc., unconsciously? That would suggest mere perception is insufficient for consciousness, and we must then investigate what must be added to make a percept conscious. Or does blindsight simply demonstrate that there is a completely blind ‘visual information system’ in humans, operating alongside normal conscious vision? And would that mean conscious vision plays only a secondary role in daily life (is our behaviour somewhat more ‘automatic’ than we believe)? This module investigates key psychological phenomena and examines philosophical theories as to their significance for the human mind.
Media and the Sacred: Religion and Popular Culture - 15 Credits
This module addresses a number of contemporary issues of religion and the media and highlights the relevance of Religious Studies for an understanding of contemporary popular culture. The module shows that media and communication issues are central to the operation of religious groups, the everyday lives of religious people and the transmission of religious beliefs and practices. The use of new media features will be a key topic in this area. Furthermore, religion and spirituality is also a key subject for media portrayal, whether in newspapers, magazines, films, TV or online. In the modern world, people’s knowledge of religion increasingly takes place through the media. The module will therefore examine how news media as well as fictional programmes often involve implicit religious presuppositions. It will further look at how religion is mediated and how the media portray and represent religion in general and different religions in particular.
Advertising - 15 Credits
This module will look at advertising and the ways in which it attempts to construct desire for specific products. It will analyse the social function of adverts in relation to certain social categories such as gender, race and sexuality. Moreover, we will look at the placing of advertising in specific media and students will be asked to consider why adverts for certain types of products are placed in specific locations.
This will include a consideration of market segmentation and TV scheduling. Students will then be encouraged to create their own advert based on a specific brief in order to apply their theoretical knowledge in a practical way. Finally, this module will consider the relationship between advertising and other media forms, especially film and television as well as new media, to consider the degree to which advertising relies upon codes that are produced in other cultural products.
Campaigns and Careers - 15 Credits
The module introduces students to a number of specialist fields within the communications industry and illustrates the value of specific communication skills across different sectors. During the module we will explore specialist areas, such as political PR, social campaigning, film marketing, non-broadcast filmmaking, sport, events and sponsorship.
Students will also learn how to deal with the press from a corporate point of view and how to create promotional material. The module further allows students to engage with the academic and practical content in a very hands-on manner and provides space for reflection on and critical engagement with the theories behind important transferable and subject specific skills, such as pitching ideas, presenting concepts and managing successful teams.
Corporate Communications - 15 Credits
This module provides a detailed understanding of the principles, techniques and strategies that underpin corporate communications, with particular emphasis on Public Relations and brand management. It is designed to reflect the current awareness of, and the benefits that organisations can derive from, adopting an integrated approach to communications.
This module adopts a strategic approach to the study of corporate communications and builds an understanding of the variations in consumer behaviour, and how communication strategies and programmes can be developed, organised and implemented. The course also addresses critical issues relating to recent developments in the field and includes a strong practical component that aims to equip students with the skills necessary for working in this field.
Digital Media - 15 Credits
This module closely looks at emergent forms of media, particularly the influence of digital technologies on traditional forms of media, such as film and journalism. We will critically analyse the impact of the digital revolution, from HDTV to virtual realities, from citizen journalism to Wikileaks and cyber-criminality, from music downloads to E-books. Using a range of critical theorists, we will discuss the challenges of these developments for old media as well as the creative opportunities new media forms provide.
Web Design for Publishing - 30 Credits
Students will begin the module by designing a simple website with hyperlinked pages. We will then move on to Dreamweaver for web editing, and using Photoshop as a method of preparing graphics for the web. You will be encouraged to choose real-life projects that can be used later as part of a CV portfolio and shown to prospective employers or admissions tutors. This module will develop and extend your understanding of web design by introducing you to a range of complex web design skills such as: designing for a specific target audience within the constraints of a client’s brief. Throughout the course you will be required to reflect upon your practice and be self-critical in your approach.
Media Project - 30 Credits
Students taking this module define their projects, aims and goals and are encouraged to work with real clients and organisations, as this will provide them with invaluable experience and a useful addition to a CV portfolio. The project should be practical in nature and based on real-world problems. In the past, projects have included the following:
• A fashion magazine
• A promotional video
Representation and Identity in Contemporary Media - 15 Credits
Using different theories of political communication, you will examine the subject of media representation, mediatization and the politics of cultural identities in the twenty-first century. You will engage with key theories and concepts of representation and media framing to illuminate an understanding of identity as a political concept.
*Tuition fees are charged annually. The fees quoted above are for the specified year(s) only. Fees may be higher in future years, for both new and continuing students. Please see the University’s
Fees and Finance Policy (and in particular the section headed “When tuition fees change”), for further information about when and by how much the University may increase its fees for future years.
GCSE Maths grade 4 (D) and English Language grade 4 (C) or above.
The University of Hertfordshire is committed to welcoming students with a wide range of qualifications and levels of experience. The entry requirements listed on the course pages provide a guide to the minimum level of qualifications needed to study each course. However, we have a flexible approach to admissions and each application will be considered on an individual basis.
All students from non-majority English speaking countries require proof of English language proficiency, equivalent to an overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each band.