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Media, politics and society

Produced collaboratively with the British Film Institute, this Open University online short course explores the relationship between media, politics, and society.

This course will enhance your understanding of the relationship between media, politics, and society; the impact of the media on politics and society; and how this relationship translates to outcomes in society. You'll explore key themes of propaganda, moral panic, media and memory, and fake news, topped and tailed by an introduction to media theory, and media and its impact on democratic politics. By the end of the course, you'll be able to better understand the key cultural and political dynamics that impact your everyday life.

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Standalone study only

This module is available for standalone study only. Any credits from this module cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.


Module code




Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
Level of Study

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

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What you will study

You'll find out about the relationship between media, politics, and society, a dynamic that impacts you and every other person you meet every single day. ‘The media’, as a subject of academic study, is sometimes underplayed, but understanding the media is of the utmost democratic importance. The media, whether newspapers, television, film, or social media, impacts our lives: our understanding of politics past and present, our democratic engagement, our opinions. Of course, it’s not a one-way street; as much as the media impacts politics and society, politics impacts the media, through regulation and law. Society – people, you – also impacts the media and politics. In this course, you'll examine the overall dynamic between media, politics, and society.

You'll explore key themes including:

  • Week 1: An introduction to the course, the media, and media theory – giving you the background you need to study on.
  • Week 2: Propaganda – how the media-politics relationship is used to promote a political cause or point of view.
  • Week 3: Moral panic – how the media-politics relationship seeks to structure social expectations about citizens’ rights/responsibilities.
  • Week 4: Media and memory – how the media-politics relationship shapes conceptions of the past.
  • Week 5: Fake news – how the media-politics relationship structures the supposed ‘facts’ about the world.
  • Week 6: The media and its impact on democratic politics.

As well as enhancing your knowledge and understanding about the topic and themes generally, you'll get a grounding in key concepts and theories, enhance your communication and self-reflection skills, and gain an understanding of future study opportunities. You will complete activities and engage with other students in the forum, with access to BFI and other visual and audio resources.

You will learn

After completing this course you will have gained:

Knowledge and understanding of the:

  • relationship between media, politics, and society.
  • four key themes (propaganda, moral panic, fake news, media and memory).
  • key theories from media and political studies.

Cognitive skills with the ability to:

  • understand and use key concepts and theories from media and political studies when engaging with real-world media and politics.
  • use examples, illustrations and case studies when assessing an argument.
  • reflect on your standpoint and the standpoint of others with respect to the content discussed in the course.

Key skills with the ability to:

  • effectively communicate information accurately and appropriately to the subject, purpose and context.
  • communicate with and learn from others in an online environment.
  • use feedback and self-reflection to improve own learning.

Practical and professional skills with an:

  • ability to plan, study and manage a sequence of work that meets a deadline.
  • understanding of future study opportunities.

Vocational relevance

This course has relevance for those interested in working in politics, the media, or journalism. It teaches skills including critical analysis, self-reflection, time management, and engaging in forums.

Learner support

Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a Study Adviser, who will respond to you directly. Other support is available via the course forum, StudentHome website and computing helpdesk.

If you have a disability

The module is delivered online/onscreen and the material is visually rich, using video and audio. Descriptions of visual elements (including transcripts) will be provided where appropriate. Visually impaired students may therefore find an external study helper useful in order to achieve some learning outcomes.

Outside the UK

There are no restrictions to studying this course. While you will not be able to access the BFI Player if you are studying outside of the UK, all videos and other assets are embedded in the module materials with full access to all registered students.

Teaching and assessment


There's no formal assessment, although there will be three ‘review and reflect’ points built into the course which you'll use to reflect on your understanding.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations, which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Entry requirements

There are no entry requirements for this course.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact us.

Course length

You’ll study for around 8 hours per week for 6 weeks. In total this course will require around 50 hours to complete.


Start End England fee Register
04 May 2024 Jun 2024 £125.00

Registration closes 18/04/24 (places subject to availability)

05 Oct 2024 Nov 2024 Not yet available

Registration opens on 06/06/24

01 Feb 2025 Mar 2025 Not yet available

Registration opens on 18/07/24

This module is expected to start for the last time in May 2026.

Ways to pay

Credit/Debit Card – We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

Sponsorship – If this course is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

The fee information provided here is valid for short courses starting in the 2024/25 academic year. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of less than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

How to apply to study an Access module for free

Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible and funded places are still available.

If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069, or you can request a call back.

Not eligible to study for free?

Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

  • monthly payments through OUSBA
  • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

What's included

All learning materials are delivered entirely online. You’ll have access to a course website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific materials and activities
  • audio and video content
  • discussion forums
  • free access to BFI Player (not available to international students)

You will need

The films in this course are only available to stream online, therefore you will need a good internet connection capable of streaming and watching the film content.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS Ventura or higher.

Our module websites comply with web standards and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.