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7AAICC60 Immersive Media and Extended Realities

Module Convenor: Dr Anthony McKenna

Credits: 20

Teaching pattern: 10 x 1 hour lecture; 10 x 1 hour seminar

Module description:

The immersive sector is a rapidly expanding area of both the UK and the global creative economy and the impact of this technological innovation is evidenced across a broad range of industries: screen, manufacturing, engineering, tourism, retail, healthcare, arts and cultural heritage. In fact, there are very few industries that are not currently affected by these innovations in immersive media.

Drawing on theories and debates in media and communication studies, cultural studies, and media industry studies, this module interrogates both industry and audience perspectives on a wide range of digital (VR, AR, MR) and nondigital (immersive theatre, pervasive gaming) immersive media. Exploring the key concepts, histories, theories and methodological practices surrounding these emerging practices, the module will enable students to engage critically and reflexively with the ways in which immersive media is produced and consumed.

From an industry perspective, we will explore the new collaborative working practices that have developed around immersive and extended reality production, to better understand the practical conditions that inform the production of the experiences that eventually reach global audiences, including issues of diversity and inclusivity in the sector. We will consider the roles across a wide spectrum of stakeholders ranging from large technology companies and media conglomerates to creative small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to individual immersive artists, practitioners and entrepreneurs.

From an audience perspective, we will investigate the nature and impact of the new forms of communication, representation and storytelling enabled by immersive media experiences. Immersive media can provide a sense of liveness and copresence that often elicits powerful feelings from audience members, and so the module will also pay particular attention to the empathetic and ethical implications of immersive media forms.

Module aims

  • To develop students’ capacity to analyse, critique and participate in debates concerning the immersive media and extended realities industries through theory and key concepts;
  • To foster a critical awareness of, and reflective responses to, the contemporary experience economy;
  • To enable students to gain a critical awareness of the changing nature of media production and consumption and the impact of societal, technological, cultural, political and economic factors at play in the digital economy.

Draft teaching syllabus

  1. Theories and Practices of Immersion – Histories, Perspectives, Methods
  2. Representations of immersion/extended realities
  3. Experience design and the experience economy
  4. Liveness, affect and co-presence 
  5. Digital Immersive technologies - VR, AR, MR
  6. Spaces and places of immersion: film, game, storytelling, documentary, education, training, engineering, art and health
  7. Non-digital immersive practices - theatre and pervasive gaming
  8. Industry perspectives, working practices and production contexts in the immersive sector(s)
  9. Representation and Diversity in the immersive sector(s)
  10. Distribution, exhibition, access and ethics

Learning outcomes

  • The ability to identify and critically analyse the adoption and use of immersive media across a number of domains: the screen industries, the arts, health, education, training, galleries and museums;
  • The ability to apply key theories and research methodologies to the study of immersive media and extended reality contexts;
  • The ability to synthesise information from various media forms in order to develop a critical awareness of how the immersive and mixed reality sectors (VR, AR and MR) are evolving within the context of the digital economy;
  • The ability to critically evaluate how the language, codes, structures and corporate frameworks of immersive industries impact upon how audiences consume and engage with immersive media;
  • The capacity to formulate their own arguments and questions in the field of immersive media and extended realities.


4,000 word mixed media practice portfolio (100%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt

 The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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