cameras and journalists at an indoor press conference

We do innovative sociological research into the impacts of media content on public understanding and belief

Our work in context

We are currently living through a time of radical, fast-paced political, social and technological transformation and the media are playing an increasingly role, adapting to and driving these changes.

Sociological media research is important because it allows us to identify the role the media plays, and to question how and why audiences are influenced and how their consumption shapes their understandings of the world.

The social sciences have a key role to play in these debates, but we believe our academic field is currently failing to make a significant impact on society. Research has often been too remote to be relevant to policy and practice, or it is too embedded in the field to stimulate new thinking and innovation.

We aim to develop new frontiers for research and knowledge exchange and to have a significant societal impact.

Our research

Our current research is global and wide-ranging across UK political parties, climate change, social media and news production in the Global South.

We do sociological research which analyses media content and explores its impacts on public option and belief. Our research methodologies including content analysis and audience focus groups have been applied in a range of international contexts.

Our media and communications researchers have been creating innovative research methods which focus on the use of language in news and other media formats since the mid-1970s. We have found novel ways to investigate how meanings are established for audiences, including:

  • production content reception
  • content analysis
  • media focus groups

These methodologies been applied across the social sciences and by researchers in areas such as health behaviours, mental health, discrimination, climate change and other areas of social policy.

Our work has had a substantial impact on the theory and practice of mass communications, and has influenced the curricula of media and communication studies courses in the UK and internationally.

Our approach

We aim to approach social science research on media and communications in the international context, providing knowledge to shape policy, service and practice development globally. We address these issues from a critical perspective and do our best to create an innovative framework for studies in communications and the media.

Our approach is unique and innovative and we bring these ideas to work in partnership with the third sector, policy and lobby groups.

Our staff and students are involved in a wide range of research and practical projects, and are active on a range of digital platforms.

We aim to work openly, interdisciplinary and collaboratively, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback.


Our research began in 1974 with the Glasgow University Media Project, which was funded by the Social Science Research Council awarded to John Eldridge and Paul Walton of the University of Glasgow. The project recorded a range of UK news bulletins, with a focus on industrial and economic news.

These researchers created pioneering research methods which focus on the use of language in news and other media formats. They also found novel ways to investigate how meanings are established for audiences.

The Glasgow University Media Group (GUMG) was formed in 1976, as the name attached to the first publication to come out of this research project, Bad News. This book was controversial in its critique of the established media, and gained the support of politicians, trade unionists and scholars.

Our researchers went on to publish many more articles and books during the next three decades, causing controversy in their challenging approach. Titles included More Bad News and Really Bad News.

Our controversial, critical approach attracted some of the top scholars in media and communications research to work with us as staff or in collaborative projects. We have hosted top international PhD students who joined the Group for the period of their studies.

The Glasgow University Media Group has also been referred to as the Glasgow Media Unit and the Glasgow Media Group, reflecting historical changes in group leadership and participation.

Professor Greg Philo was Research Director of the Glasgow University Media Group for nearly three decades, based in the Department of Sociology at the University of Glasgow. Greg retired in 2021 and was replaced by our current Director, Dr Catherine Happer.


Study with us

We supervise a number of PhD students in the area of media and public understanding and our postgraduate research students are closely involved with our research and play an active role in the activities of the Glasgow University Media Group.

Postgraduate students on our MSc Media, Communications & International Journalism may also choose to get involved in our activities. 

If you'd like to find out more about studying with us, please contact us.

Find out more

If you'd like to find out more about our activities, please contact us 

Follow us on Twitter @UofGmediagroup 

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