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7AAVDM29 Global Digital Audiences

Module convenors: Dr Rafal Zaborowski
Credits: 20
Teaching pattern: Ten one-hour lectures and ten one-hour seminars. 
Module description:

The story of audiences has been told in many ways, but it has usually been a narrative of a transformation from a faceless, voiceless mass into a critical, responsive and interpretative collective. Does this still hold true?  Who is “the audience” in the digital age – or are we rather users, producers, prosumers? The module draws on the legacy of audience studies which in various ways investigated the link between people and society through and around media texts, context and institutions. The module then urges students to confront those ideas with the changing, global digital landscape.

Firstly, this module will explore ways in which people and societies engage with media and digital technologies. The module will explore how changing technological affordances may have changed our ideas of interpretation and participation, and how newer phenomena of streaming cultures, digital fandom or creative practice link to theoretical and methodological debates surrounding audiences. Secondly, the module will urge students to critically consider the cross-cultural validity of traditional concepts in audience research through introduction of emerging case studies and modern technological and socio-political contexts in the Global North and the Global South.

Draft teaching syllabus


Module aims

This module, informed by theories and empirical research from social science and humanities perspectives, aims to:

  • provide a critical overview of audience theories and methodologies for the digital age;
  • allow students to critically investigate and apply theoretical and practical perspectives on audiences to emerging areas of communication and the digitalisation of society;
  • develop knowledge of theoretical concepts of interpretations, agency, participation and creation alongside case studies and innovations in digital technologies;
  • provide students with tools to problematise the relationship between, on the one hand, media and digital technology, and on the other hand, a range of sociocultural, psychological and political aspects of everyday life;
  • encourage students to reflexively investigate the complex interactions between audiences, media and society.

    As such, the module serves both as a foundation for further study in audience studies in communication and humanities, and a resource for an audience-related career in digital industries.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Have a deep understanding of current theoretical and methodological approaches to studying audiences of media and digital technologies (knowledge and understanding)
  • Critically evaluate and synthesise ideas surrounding audiences and users from cross-disciplinary scholarship, and apply those ideas to emerging case studies, modern digital platforms and global socio-technological context (cognitive skills)
  • Design an audience study critically approaching audience research methodology and adapting it to new areas and topics (cognitive skills; performance and practice)
  • Critically reflect on the role of media and digital technologies in students’ own lives and  cultures (personal and enabling skills)

Core reading



4000 word assignment 100%

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.

module information page
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