SOAS University of London

Centre for Global Media and Communications

Theoretical and Contemporary Issues in Media, Information Communication Technologies and Development

Module Code:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Full Year


  • This Module is capped at 25 places
  • Students enrol via the online Module Sign-Up system. Students are advised of the timing of this process via email by the Faculty Office

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  • How to assess data and evidence critically from texts, manuscripts, audio and video sources, both analog and digital, solve problems of conflicting sources and conflicting interpretations, develop skills in critical judgements of complex source materials, locate materials in print and on line, use research resources (particularly research library catalogues and websites) and other relevant traditional and electronic sources.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the dynamics and debates about the role of media and Information Communication Technologies in the development process: to be able to critically examine the discourses of development, the  roles of national and international organizations, NGOs, citizens in defining and producing development and the emergence of critical and alternative paradigms for sustainable societies; to be aware of the key theoretical issues surrounding the role of media and Information Communication Technologies in development processes; to be able analytically to disaggregate economic, political, social and cultural strands of development and the nature of mediated practices within each; develop awareness of emergent models of sustainable development in which contemporary media practices play a key role; analyze the role of the media in hegemonic representations of social change and development and the articulation of alternatives.
  • Application of critical theoretical skills to different kinds of media materials and practices, including within specific development fields such as health, education and gender, deriving predominantly from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, enabling analytical understanding of situated practices.
  • Ability to define their own independent research projects and the appropriate methodologies and tools to conduct these.

Scope and syllabus

The course provides a thorough grounding in the history of debates around the development, challenging the assumptions behind the media and development industries and development studies and offering new ways of thinking about these issues. The approach balances critical theoretical analysis of the hegemony implied by the ideas and practices of development with the practical issues surrounding the use of contemporary media, including notably digital technologies, for a range of developmental purposes.

The core course interrogates critically the presuppositions of ‘development’ itself as an articulation which legitimizes a particular, hierarchical vision of the world and disarticulates alternatives. ‘Development’ privileges an economistic world view and downplays the importance of social and cultural change, in which the media are not just instruments of furthering the agenda of modernization but constitute a vibrant public discussion and commentary by no means confined to the public sphere or civil society.

The course explores a range of old media and new Information Communication Technologies including radio and mobile telephony that are utilised in a variety of ways to address specific kinds of development-oriented issues, including health, literacy and gender empowerment and sustainable livelihoods. It also explores the emerging practices of e-finance, e-government and asks about the actors involved in creating development policies.

Method of assessment

Coursework: two 2500 word essays and two 500-800 word book reviews.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules