Social Media - MA

Course Overview

The essential course information

How to apply
  • Full Time (1 year)
  • Part Time (2-3 years)
  • Online Learning (1 year full time)
  • Online Learning (3 years part-time)
Birmingham School of Media
City Centre

This course is accredited by:

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The MA Social Media at Birmingham School of Media offers you the chance to learn in-depth about the ways in which social media technologies are impacting upon the world. We consider the development and direction of social media as a creative industry as well as a cultural phenomenon. On the course you will engage with a range of theoretical work as well as undertaking practical live projects which will support your development as an expert in the field.

The Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research

As a member of the BCMCR you will draw upon the expertise of a range of media academics who are researching the use of social media across a number of fields. In turn you will be supported to develop the key research skills needed to make your own contributions to what is a growing area of research. We will consider the many ways in which social media can be used as a research tool as well as examining the ways in which it is put to use by communities, activists and business.

What will I study on the course?

The course is designed to meet your needs as a learner and help you produce work that will be valuable to your ongoing career. So whether you see yourself as a social media activist or a marketeer, you will be able to adapt assessment to your own needs. Students can take a research-orientated route through the course, culminating in the completion of dissertation; or they may choose to produce a practice project, showcasing their skills at being an effective social media producer. You will study the following modules:

Why should I study this course?
  • You will learn practical skills in producing social media strategies and managing social media campaigns
  • You can choose between a research- or practice-focused route
  • You will learn from industry guest speakers on this Skillset accredited course.

Jodie Cook“I’m very happy that a course exists to teach people about using social media in a commercial sense, given the rise of it as a great way for organisations to keep in touch with customers and find new ones.”

Jodie Cook, JC Social Media

Why should I study an MA at Birmingham City University?
  • Be part of the fast growing Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research
  • You will be supported by a high-profile group of academics and professionals who will enable you to realise your full potential
  • You will work in a shared space with PhD students and other research staff
  • There are paid work opportunities including internships, teaching and research culture development
  • There are bursaries to attend conferences and relevant events
  • You can work on live research projects with academic members of staff
  • You will have the change to organise academic conferences and postgraduate symposia
  • All students receive career mentoring through personal planning
  • There are routes to PhD and beyond with Midlands Three Cities (M3C) funding

Download the Course Programme Specification

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have a first degree or equivalent at 2:1, or above, or have considerable experience in a related field and be able to demonstrate outstanding ability and potential.

International students should have a minimum IELTS level of 6.5, while good spoken and written English are vital.

Applicants should have sound academic skills (research, writing, presentation), an interest in ideas and their application and some basic competence in IT skills (word-processing, internet activities and so on).

Above all, candidates for this exciting and innovative course need to have an inquiring mind, an aptitude for researching, sharing and communicating ideas and a desire to develop as an independent and self-motivated thinker.

How to Apply

To apply, please complete the online application form below.

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our pdf application form instead.

To apply, you will need the following to hand:

  • Academic qualifications at GCSE and above
  • Details of relevant work experience
  • Professional qualifications
  • Membership of professional bodies
  • Contact details for two referees
  • Details of unspent criminal convictions or cautions
  • Your personal statement in support of your application - reasons for choosing the course, your professional career to date, and your current career goals (minimum 500 words)
  • Passport Number (Non-EU Applicants only)
  • TEFL/IELTS Test Results (Non-EU Applicants only)

Fees and Finance

Fees for students from the UK or EU countries?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Sep 2015 FT 1 year MA £6,195 per year
Sep 2015 PT 2-3 years MA £3,100 per year
Sep 2015 OL 1 year full time MA £10,840 per year
Sep 2015 OL 3 years part-time MA £3,615 per year
Fees for students from non-EU countries (International)?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Sep 2015 FT 1 year MA £11,500
Sep 2015 OL 1 year full time MA £11,500
Sep 2015 OL 3 years part-time MA TBC

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

You may also be eligible for a variety of tuition fee waivers that we offer.

International Students

International Students at BCU

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK. Our reputation for excellence is soaring globally, thanks to the superb links we forge with industry, our international alliances, and our focus on practical, vocational learning.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

University Approach to Employability

Birmingham City University is committed to preparing students for successful employability and professional careers. We have an innovative approach to employability that will help you obtain an interesting and well-paid graduate job.

Read our Employability Statement to find out more.

Employment Opportunities

A wide range of organisations and businesses now employ individuals to help them develop effective social media strategies for customer or citizen engagement. Previous graduates have found work in such roles within both the private and public sector. Others have gone on to set up businesses or worked as social media consultants.

Other avenues that graduates may pursue include developing innovative and low cost communication strategies for third sector organisations using social media tools; developing innovative and alternative media projects; and working with existing mainstream media organisations as they develop social media strategies.

It is also possible for successful graduates to enhance their skills by contributing to the development of new professional practice in PR, marketing communications and web design. They might also wish to continue developing a scholarly interest in social media as part of a further research degree.


The MA has a strong thread of individual personal development planning, supporting students' studies and enhancing an individual's career ambitions.

Students are expected to undertake a work placement/internship with an organisation that uses social media or is exploring social media. This will enable students to become engaged as researchers within the work place and enable them to find ways in which their skills and learning can be applied outside of academia.

The Birmingham School of Media has a number of close contacts in the creative and cultural sector, regionally, nationally and internationally, which will aid in finding appropriate placements and exploring work in these industries.

Further Studies

For anyone interested in taking their research interests forward into an MPhil or PhD speak to the course director about your particular area of expertise.

Course Structure

The Social Media MA draws upon the expertise of our wide range of practitioners within the Birmingham School of Media and its research and production units (Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, Interactive Cultures, New Technology Institute).

Our established and innovative work with a wide range of partners in the creative industries, arts organisations and local authorities inform class work and the directions of individual scholarship.

The taught postgraduate phase of the course comprises modules that explore social media from a cultural studies perspective and explore political economy, social enterprise and social media organisations.

The Masters component of the course entails a substantial piece of independent study and the creation of either a social media production project or an original piece of research in the form of a 15,000-word dissertation.

The MA has a strong thread of individual personal development planning, supporting your studies and enhancing your career ambitions. To this end you will engage in live projects for clients and be expected to work at a professional level.

The Birmingham School of Media has a variety of strong contacts in the creative and cultural sector, regionally, nationally and internationally which will aid in finding appropriate projects and exploring work in these industries.


For on-campus students, teaching takes place in small groups, with a mixture of lectures, seminars, research workshops, presentations and field-trips.

In exploring and innovating in research in social media you will work with other students and engage with professional practitioners, interacting and disseminating ideas through blogs and social media platforms as well as at networking events.

Distance Learning

For distance-learning students, lectures will be replaced with audio slide shows, recordings of a lecture, or live-streamed lectures which cover the same material. These will often be identical to those delivered to students with attendance.

Access to your tutors for tutorials will be via audio-visual communication technologies such as Skype and will be further supported by email.

In exploring and innovating in research in social media you will engage with professional practitioners, interacting and disseminating ideas through, blogs and social media platforms as well as at networking events.

Course Modules

Social Media as Culture (30 credits)

This theory module explores the current state of academic knowledge and debates around the emergence of social media and provides you with a systematic understanding of the approaches to studying social media culture and its social and cultural role and character.

You will participate in external networking and conference events and produce blogs that engage with key debates about the culture of social media.

At the end of this module you will be able to employ established theoretical frameworks and methodologies in order to advance new insights into practice and meaning.

Enterprise (30 credits) / Online Enterprise and Innovation (30 credits)

By focusing on a spirit of entrepreneurship (or intrapreneurship) we will encourage you to take ownership of your own personal professional development. You will identify industry challenges appropriate to your award, and turn them into opportunities for you to enhance your independence, confidence, networking capacity and strategic thinking. This will encourage you to become a self-reflexive creative worker.

On-campus: If studying the on-campus 'Enterprise' module, you will explore entrepreneurial techniques, processes and practices.

You will put ideas into practice, develop a strong sense of your professional development needs, be involved in creating networks (in and outside the university) and refine an action-orientated approach.

Distance-learning: The distance-learning only 'Online Enterprise and Innovation' module applies your developing theoretical and professional knowledge into interactive and online media, professional environments.

You will do this by exploring the techniques, processes and practices of online innovation and enterprise, and put ideas into practice, develop a strong sense of your own professional development needs, be involved in creating networks and refine an action orientated approach.

Social Media as Practice (30 credits)

This production module explores social media as an area of media practice in social enterprise, commercial, public and personal areas. You will consider the different areas of media, cultural and creative production that come under the auspices of social media and explore the production practices and skills that these involve.

You will develop your own professional practice through a range of production activities. At the end of this module you will be able to analyse, deliver and evaluate innovative social media projects.

Production Lab or Research Methods (30 credits)

These modules prepare you for MA by Practice or MA by Dissertation, depending upon the focus of your studies.

Both draw upon other taught modules which either mapped out the current state of academic knowledge in the field, or established professional conventions and explored current industry challenges.

You will be provided with the opportunity to innovate, and to apply and experiment with a range of production skills appropriate to your award, supported by a systematic exploration of methods for research and production development.

MA by Practice or MA by Dissertation (60 Credits)

Depending upon the focus of your studies, you will complete your award with either an original contribution to scholarship in the MA by Dissertation or through the origination, execution and delivery of an individual and extended practice-based professional project at the forefront of your field.

You will develop and consolidate your mastery of key skills, knowledge of and engagement with current opportunities in the field of production or academic enquiry. These modules encourage and test skills of initiative and independent practice and are conducted largely outside of the classroom with support from a tutor.

Assessment Methods

Assessments usually emphasise scholarly or professional practice through which the key learning objectives are tested. Three weeks are set aside for assessment work.

See the assignment briefs below for specific examples:

Social Media Assignment One Brief

Social Media Assignment Two Brief

Dave Harte

Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication and Award Leader, MA Social Media

Dave Harte is a Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications and award leader for the MA in Social Media at Birmingham City University.

For many years he has worked closely with Birmingham's vibrant digital media sector acting as a link between the public sector and the business community.

In the mid-2000s, he worked closely with the regional development agency for the West Midlands on their business clusters strategy, subsequently managing a major business support project on their behalf.

Dave has worked with Birmingham City Council as Economic Development Manager for Digital Birmingham where he championed the use of social media and digital tools to the city leaders and the business community.

He is currently co-investigator on the AHRC and EPSRC funded project 'Media, Community and the Creative Citizen' where he leads a research strand investigating the scale and value of hyperlocal news websites. His work on this has been published by Ofcom to support their understanding of this emerging sector.

Professional Secondments:

  • Economic Development Manager - Digital Birmingham (2008-09)
  • Project Manager - Digital Central (2006-08)
  • Cluster Innovation Manager - Advantage West Midlands (2003-05)
  • Subject Co-ordinator - Art, Design, Media, Subject Centre (2003-05)
Social Media and Websites


Twitter: @daveharte

Website: hyperlocal news website for Bournville.

Creative Skillset Tick

This course has been awarded the Creative Skillset Tick, the industry kitemark of quality, following a rigorous assessment process by experts working in the Creative Industries.

The Creative Skillset Tick is awarded to practice-based courses which best prepare students for a career in the industry.

Learn more at


Prospective students from the UK
  • Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to a range of questions about our courses and studying here.
  • If you need further help, you can contact the Course Enquiries Team online by using the Course Enquiry Form.
  • Alternatively, call us on +44 (0)121 331 5595.
Prospective students from outside the UK


For an overview of our postgraduate courses and a range of other information please download our Postgraduate Prospectus (10Mb).