Seen as a sexy option by many young students, especially those aiming for a career in the media, media studies is routinely decried by others as trendy and shallow. In fact, its graduates rank third in the country in terms of employability, says David Hesmondhalgh, the OU media studies lecturer in charge of the new course.
As with other media studies courses it doesn't aim to provide vocational training. But, says Hesmondhalgh, "If you look at the media now more and more people who work there are coming out of media studies courses."
Would-be BBC controllers aside, this media studies course is aimed at people who want to gain a better understanding of one of the most pervasive and influential forces of our age. "The media today are absolutely at the centre of our lives as citizens in a modern society," Hesmondhalgh says. Potential media studies students are people who watch TV and want to know more about what lies behind what they see; people who are interested in issues of media control; those curious about the media as a global force.
And, of course, it provides the perfect excuse for telly addicts. "The students have a whole week in the middle of the course where they watch films, TV programmes and adverts, and listen to radio sequences," says Hesmondhalgh. The course features a rich audiovisual mix - DVD, interactive DVD, audio CD, websites - and books.
The course doesn't shy away from political issues, such as that of who controls the media. Key topics include the media and celebrity; media audiences; media production; analysing media texts; and the way societies try to control media technologies.
For more information on Understanding Media (course code DA204) or other Open University courses, contact 01908 653 231. The deadline for registration for students new to the Open University is 16 December.