Media in Africa SOCIO4131

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course primarily focuses on media performance, practices and theory in Africa. It adopts an interdisciplinary approach that places media in Africa within a broader comparative perspective that challenges long-standing Western-dominated flows of media research and theory. This approach is particularly key in the context of the globalisation of the field, and the growing calls to de-Westernise perspectives in media and communication studies. The course thus invites students to question and critique Western universalistic assumptions on the media by exploring critical sociological questions around media production, media content and its reception in the Global South. In addition to the analysis of wide-ranging media texts and case studies, the course explores the critical tensions between local and global contextual factors that shape and constrain media practices, especially the changes imposed by changing technological, economic and political conditions. Drawing on case studies and intellectual debates from across Africa as an empirical point of departure, the course specifically highlights the intricate sociological connections between the processes that underpin the production of media content, the power structures that shape information supply and how audiences in the Global South engage with media content. In pursuing these broad issues, the course poses questions around the role of the media in emerging democracies as well as how it is shaped and coloured by the dynamics of local social forces, patterns of ownership and state control, resulting in practices that challenge and throw into question the hegemony of Western conceptions of the media.



Requirements of Entry

In order to take this course, students need to have met the requirements for entry into the Sociology Honours Programme. This means achieving a grade of 'D' or better in Sociology 1A and 1B and a 'C' or better in Sociology 2A and 2B. Students also have to comply with the College of Social Science regulations for progression to Honours.

Excluded Courses





1. Essay, 3,000 words - 60%


2. Class presentation and report - 40%


The nature of the presentations (i.e. whether group or individual) will depend on the number of students who sign up for the course. In either of these instances, there will be alternative arrangements for students who struggle with delivering a class presentation or have challenges working in a group situation as follows:


Group presentation:

They will have the option to contribute to the group work but not be the presenters. In the event of this scenario, an additional document outlining each group member's contribution to the presentation will be required as part of the assessment submission. 


Individual presentations:

Students will be offered the option to prepare slides and a written handout as an alternative to delivering a class presentation.

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

Although the course takes the African media scene as its empirical point of departure, it places emphasis on a broader comparative approach that primarily aims to offer students broadly contextualised knowledge and critical insights into the media in the Global South. More specifically, the course aims to:


1. Introduce key theoretical concepts for engaging with emerging debates on de-Westernising Media Studies;


2. Develop an informed and critical appraisal of the application of Western media theoretical orientations and traditions in the Global South;


3. Equip students with an understanding of key sociological concepts, practices and theoretical debates underpinning the field of media in Africa;


4. Explore comparative research and methodological approaches that offer insights into the complex connections between media and society in diverse socio-economic, political and technological environments of the South.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

1. Demonstrate a critical reading and understanding of key concepts and sociological debates underpinning the study of media in a transnational comparative context;


2. Draw upon a variety of debates on the social practice of media in Africa to develop sustained arguments in both written and oral form;


3. Identify and critique the nature and form of media practices and cultures across developing economies, including the ethical and normative dilemmas faced by media institutions and their practitioners in emerging democracies;


4. Analyse and reflect on particularities of national settings as well as global trends that determine differences and similarities between media cultures in Africa the wider Global South.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.