MA Digital Media and Society banner

Start date: September

1 year full-time
2 years-part-time

Programme code:

SCST88 (full-time)
SCST89 (part-time)

Digital Media and Society MA

PLEASE NOTE: Applications to this course are assessed using our staged admissions process. You can find information about the process on our webpage Staged admissions for postgraduate applications


Want to find out more about the Digital Media and Society MA?

Watch our webinar with Dr Stefania Vicari (Course Leader and Senior Lecturer in Digital Sociology), Dr Kate Weiner (Admissions Tutor) and Laura Towers (former MA student in the Department of Sociological Studies) to hear more about the course, entry requirements and what it's like to be a postgraduate student in the Department.

Watch the webinar

Apps, social media platforms, e-books, personalised advertising and ad blockers, data mining and data visualisations – there’s no denying that digital media technologies are core to our everyday lives. But what are the implications for society of our increasingly digitised world?

Apps, social media platforms, e-books, personalised advertising and ad blockers, data mining and data visualisations – there’s no denying that digital media technologies are core to our everyday lives. But what are the implications for society of our increasingly digitised world?The Digital Media and Society MA at the University of Sheffield is unique in offering students an opportunity to develop a broad understanding of the interweaving of digital media and society from a sociological perspective.

Drawing upon staff expertise in digital media and digital society, this programme will give you grounding in all aspects of digital media, allowing you to specialise in a specific area, or develop your understanding of all of the following:

  • Researching digital society;
  • Digital practices;
  • Digital methods.

The programme offers you the opportunity to think about digital media developments in relation to a range of social and cultural issues, such as gender, race, intimacy, surveillance, science, health, advocacy and the production of news. It covers cultural and sociological theory; traditional qualitative and quantitative methods, and new methodological techniques for digital research like data mining.

As a student within the Faculty of Social Sciences, you will also benefit from the research and training activities of both the University’s Sheffield Methods Institute and the Faculty-wide Digital Society Network, the latter of which brings together interdisciplinary researchers engaged in research at the cutting-edge of society-technology interactions.

Picture of Professor Helen Kennedy“I’ve been studying and making digital media since they came along in the mid-1990s. I love using and engaging with digital media, from apps and social media platforms to data visualisations, but their place in society is not straightforward. They can be a force for the good, or not. They’re shaped by the world from which they emerge, and this isn’t always a good thing. I’m passionate about understanding the relationship between digital media, society and everyday life, and about sharing that learning journey with my students.”

Professor Helen Kennedy, Professor of Digital Society

Helen Kennedy speaks to Hotcourses Abroad about student life in the Department of Sociological Studies and discusses the Digital Media and Society MA. Read more...

Is this course for me?

The Digital Media and Society MA is aimed at graduates from a range of undergraduate subject areas. It is ideal for graduates from sociology and other social sciences who are interested in developing their understanding of the digital. Similarly, the course will appeal to communications, media studies and new/digital media graduates, who are looking to develop their knowledge of the social contexts and consequences of digital developments. The programme is also relevant to mature students, either from the digital media industries or from social sectors, wishing to reflect on and further develop their skills.

This course provides an excellent grounding for a range of careers within social and public sector organisations that require an understanding of digital media. It will also provide students with an excellent foundation for future doctoral study of specific topics relating to digital media in society.

Course structure

The programme, delivered by a team of academics with expertise in digital media and digital society, is conducted through a combination of lectures, tutorials, seminars, workshops, small-group work and problem solving.

Assessment varies across modules and will include a combination of coursework (essays, portfolio and practical work). Formal examination may be required for some optional modules. Students are also expected to complete a dissertation-length project equivalent to 15,000 words in length.

The course is based around three main aspects:

  • The first is a series of core modules that are worth one third of your marks on the Masters degree;
  • This is then built upon through optional modules, also worth one third of your marks on the course;
  • The course culminates in the dissertation module, which is worth the final third of your marks. This provides the opportunity, under one-to-one supervision, to focus in depth on a topic of individual choice.

Each module is assigned a credit value: 180 credits are required for graduation. 60 of these are core modules, 60 are optional and finally 60 credits are allocated to the dissertation.

Students who take this programme part-time will have a period of two years to complete. The part-time route is structured in the following way: students will take 90 credits in the first year and the remaining 90 credits in the second year. The dissertation, which is worth 60 credits, must be taken in the second year.

Core Modules

Perspectives on Digital Society (15 credits)

This module examines key issues in researching digital society and the relationship between digital media and society. The module introduces key concepts that have shaped understanding of digital developments and evaluates debates about how these developments a) have been shaped by the societies in which they have emerged and b) shape those societies. It will develop your understanding of the social, cultural, political, economic and technical contexts in which digital developments emerge. Topics covered include, but are not limited to: key concepts; users, producers or produsers; identity, representation and self-representation; internet governance and regulation; privacy and publicness; visual digital society; big data and datafication; mobility; gaming and gamification; changing work practices; alternative digital media; health, well-being, education and work.

Digital Methods (15 credits)

This module introduces you to new and emerging methods for carrying out digital research that is, digital methods. Digital methods are natively digital techniques for researching the natively digital (for example, social media content, likes and shares; blog posts and comments; hyperlinks; tag clouds; folksonomies; search engines; recommender culture). Digital methods include social media insights and analytics, social network analysis, issue network analysis, data visualisation, and data sprints, amongst others. As well as learning how to use these tools, techniques and processes,you will evaluate them, the context of their emergence (and sometimes rapid decline). You will develop an understanding of how digital methods are used to create knowledge. In this way, the module addresses questions of web epistemology, information politics, ethics, device critique, and the social life of methods.

Social Media, Data and Society (15 credits)

This module examines the social consequences of widespread use of social media, a key characteristic of digital society. It explores what happens as a result of the digitised and networked sharing of personal information and life experiences of all kinds, in times of datafication (that is, the transformation into data, numbers and statistics aspects of social life which formerly did not exist in such forms). The module reviews theoretical literature on social media, data and society and addresses specific debates and issues, including: social media data mining; social media surveillance; the economic value of social media data; data tracking, privacy, rights and data subjects; governing social media data mining; data activism and open data; data visualisation; new forms of data work; data and everyday life.

Dissertation in Digital Media and Society (60 credits)

In the dissertation you will undertake an in-depth study on a topic of your own choice, which relates to digital media and society, and is guided by one-to-one academic supervision. It aims to enable you to develop and demonstrate skills in the planning, definition and management of a substantial piece of enquiry on digital media and society. The dissertation may take the form of a theoretical literature-based analysis, an empirical exploration, either through primary or secondary research, a work-experience-based piece of work, or it may incorporate elements of digital media production.

Researching Society (15 credits)

This module introduces you to key theories, principles and practices in social research. It provides an overview of the research process in the social sciences, with direct consideration of research design, different methodological approaches, a range of methods available and good ethical standards. It provides you with theoretical understandings and the practical skills required to design and develop a small-to-medium scale research project.

Students can take 60 credits of options from the following modules. Please note that module information may be subject to change:

Module title: No. of credits:
Intimacy and Personal Relationships 15
Digital Practices 15
The Sociology of Surveillance 15
Digital Health 15
The Sociology of Culture and Identity 15
Digital Identities 15
Visual Methods for Social Scientists 15
Media, Culture and Society in East Asia 15
Media, State and Society in China 15
Theory and Debates in Food Security and Food Justice 15
Researching Social Media 15
Information, Governance and Ethics 15
Digital Advocacy 15

The example course structure listed above refers to the academic year 2018-19 and may be subject to change in future years. The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers.In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Entry requirements

The minimum entry requirement is a 2:1 honours degree, or equivalent, in a relevant discipline. A relevant Social Science degree is defined as:

    Relevant Social Science Degrees

    Architecture, Communication, Digital Media/Digital Media Studies, Economics, Education, Geography, Humanities, International Relations, Journalism, Language, Literature, Law, Management, Media Arts, Media Studies, Philosophy, Politics, Recording Arts, Sociology, Town and Regional Planning.

    Applicants with a 2:1 degree in a subject not listed above who have relevant professional experience and good academic potential, we would encourage you to apply via our formal application process:

International students

We accept students with a wide range of international qualifications. Please visit our website for international applicants for specific advice on the entry requirements for your country.

International Student Qualifications

If you do not meet the entry requirements for our postgraduate taught Masters degree programme, you can still be considered for our pre-Masters programme. Please find out more about our Graduate Diploma and our relationship with Sheffield International College.

Graduate Diploma

English language requirements

Our minimum English requirement is:

For more information on other acceptable English language qualifications with variable requirements, please visit:

Fees and funding

You can look up fees for full- and part-time postgraduate courses here.

International students

Studying for your degree at the University of Sheffield offers you a world-class high-quality qualification and excellent value for money. One of the great advantages of studying at the University of Sheffield is that your money will go further in our city.

Find out more about living costs, scholarships, tuition fees and more for international students.

Postgraduate taught course tuition fee deposits

If you are an International applicant and have accepted a place on a taught postgraduate course, the University of Sheffield will ask you to pay a deposit towards your course tuition fee. By paying a tuition fee deposit you will indicate that you are definitely going to take up your place. Read more here.

Tuition fees

You can find information on tuition fees for both UK/EU and overseas students here.

Home or overseas tuition fee status?

In common with other UK universities, the University of Sheffield charges different fees dependent on whether students are classed as Home or Overseas for tuition fee purposes. The decision to class a student as a Home or an Overseas student is determined by government legislation as set out in the Education (Fees and Awards) Regulations 2007. The regulations governing the fee status of students can be found on the government legislation website.

Read more about home or overseas tuition fee status.

Tuition fee refund policy

If you are considering, or have decided to take leave of absence, withdraw entirely or transfer to another University, you will need to know how this will affect your tuition fees. Read the  Tuition Fee Refund Policy for essential information on tuition fee refunds here.

Funding your study

Find out more about financial support, money management and additional support here. There is also more information on the sources of funding that can help you pay for your postgraduate studies here.

Other potential costs

Reassessment fees

If for any reason, you fail or are unable to complete an assessed piece of work which is a requirement to pass your course, you may be required to pay a reassessment fee. information about these fees can be found on the University's exam webpages.

What our students say

Image of Wadhha Al Busaidi“It was a fruitful experience to study the MA Digital Media and Society at the University of Sheffield. I had lots of opportunities to learn, from the discussions with my classmates and the various modules delivered by highly qualified lecturers, to the opportunities to hear from guest speakers who were from different backgrounds over the world.” - Wadhha Al Busaidi, Digital Media & Society MA student 2016-17

Read more from Wadhha

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

View our other taught Masters programmes.