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Television: from small screen to smart screen


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor and tutor: Dr Eleni Liarou
  • Assessment: a 2000-word theoretical essay (50%) and a short video and 1500-word report (50%)

Module description

What is television? And is Netflix TV? Are we witnessing the end of television or is television more widespread than ever before?

These are key questions we will explore through an understanding of concepts, debates and methods in the study of television. Looking at key changes and developments in the TV industry through the concept of ‘screens’ (small, big, analogue, digital, portable), we will analyse television in the context of changing technologies, aesthetics, formats and policies from the inception of television up to current trends.

The module is divided into four thematic sections:

  • Technologies, platforms and the TV industry (infrastructure and context)
  • Institutions and production cultures
  • Audiences and fandom
  • Aesthetics/genres and formats in the broadcast and digital eras

We will look at the following case studies:

  • 'Live' TV and the legacy of 'TV liveness' for streaming platforms
  • The influence of major TV genres (soap opera, sitcom, reality TV, TV news and sports) for storytelling practices and content delivery across media from broadcast TV to YouTube
  • Public versus subscription TV; the history and future of public service television
  • From TV scheduling to DIY content
  • Reception and audience research in the digital era

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • demonstrate knowledge on both the historical development of television and current trends and challenges for media creatives
  • have a deeper understanding of the ways in which media industries are interdependent (film, TV, journalism, social media)
  • appreciate the value of interdisciplinary research for the study of television
  • be able to use relevant, updated and critical vocabulary for the analysis of television and media
  • be able to think critically and independently about issues of ethnic, sexual and gender representation on and off the screen.