Why study media?

Jemma Smith, Editor
November, 2015

If you're considering a career in the media but want to know more about your options, read on to discover where postgraduate courses in the field can lead…

With programmes covering a range of areas including filmmaking, scriptwriting, advertising and journalism, it's no surprise that media courses are a popular choice with postgraduate students.

Why choose media studies?

'Postgraduate courses have grown in popularity in recent years as the media has expanded with digital technology and taken on a stronger role in society,' says Professor Richard Sambrook, director of the Centre for Journalism at Cardiff University. 'This means that studying and understanding the media is far more important than it used to be.'

Masters-level media courses usually appeal to those with experience of and interest in arts and humanities subjects, such as history, literature, philosophy and sociology.

'Students are attracted to such courses because they have cultivated a questioning attitude towards the media worlds in which they live,' says Dr Dean Lockwood, senior lecturer in media theory at the University of Lincoln.

What do courses involve?

Professor Sambrook believes that it's important to consider your options if you're planning to extend your knowledge of the media sector through a Masters qualification.

'There are a range of different courses,' he explains. 'Some are academic - examining how the media operates and performs - some are research-focused, and others are vocational - training students with the practical knowledge and skills that they need in subjects like journalism.'

Dr Lockwood explains that a good MA course will resonate with the experiences of its students - no matter which option you choose.

'Media is crucial to how we make sense of our lives and feel about things,' he says. 'Media studies courses should enable us to bear witness to, interrogate and intervene in these processes so that we can play a useful part in the design of our social world.

'They should realise the tremendous power of social media, and drive opinions, debates and movements.'

Vanessa Hicks, who studied MA Magazine Journalism at Kingston University London, created a magazine from scratch during her course, distributing it throughout the city.

'I chose to do a Masters in magazine journalism because I always enjoyed writing, and knew that the qualification would allow me to gain skills that I could apply to a wide range of jobs in the media,' she says.

'The course was very hands-on with very little theory - it was more geared towards gaining practical experience.'

What do media studies graduates do?

The media sector is a major employer, and having a postgraduate media degree under your belt can open many doors when job hunting.

'Graduate media courses prepare you for employment at senior level in the media and creative industries, as well as in academia,' reveals Dr Lockwood.

Alumni of such courses are known to progress into media roles in commercial companies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), while many others go into creative roles in PR, marketing, production and content management.

There is the potential for work across a wide range of industries thanks to the multidisciplinary nature of the subject.

'Courses foster a breadth of knowledge and a high level of transferable skills, such as: critical and independent thinking; interpersonal, presentational and communication skills; and the ability to work collaboratively within teams,' concludes Dr Lockwood.

'If you want a job in the media, consider studying a Masters in a media-related subject,' advises Vanessa, who now works as a trainee account executive at Reading-based company Berkeley PR. 'Tuition fees aren't cheap, but the experience is rich and the skills that you learn will prove invaluable in your career.'