Postgraduate: Audience and Reception Studies; Swansea medical degree; Religion and magic

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The Independent Online

How do art-gallery bosses decide what shows to put on? Or newspaper editors decide which stories to run? Such questions are being asked on Aberystwyth University's new MA in Audience and Reception Studies. It offers the chance to focus on all the ways in which audiences have been and can be studied, says Professor Martin Barker of the university's department of theatre, film and television studies. There is a long tradition of audience studies, including early American mass-communication studies of the 1930s and 1940s, but the field is underdeveloped, says Professor Barker.

The research interests of teachers on the course include the international reception of David Cronenberg's films, children's perception of advertisements, and the study of Big Brother audiences.

Students will be able to get involved with Participations, a web-based audience-studies journal being launched by the department later this year.

* Swansea University has launched a medical degree, to run from next autumn. It is a four-year fast-track graduate-entry course, offered in conjunction with the University of Wales College of Medicine (UWCM). Seventy students will be accepted each year and will start their training at Swansea University's new clinical school. There is a demand for more doctors in Wales, and the Welsh Assembly is funding the course. The joint venture was sealed at a ceremony in Swansea last month. A representative from Cardiff University was present because the university is in merger talks with UWCM.

After two years at the clinical school, studying human biology and getting a grounding in medical methods and techniques, students will study patients in a range of hospital and community medical settings around Wales, including new facilities at the clinical school. Graduates from any background are invited to apply for the course. The graduate students' study and evaluation skills and their ability to synthesise knowledge will be exploited by the course, says its curriculum developer, Dr Olwyn Westwood.

* Magicians and pagans are expected to be among students of Cardiff University's new MA in religion and magic, which starts this week. Classes will run in the evenings because it is a part time course that people will be taking out of personal interest, says course leader Jo Pearson. "It's not the sort of thing that companies would sponsor people to go on." The course will begin with a grounding in the historical academic debates about religion and magic, such as how magic has been seen by religions, says Dr Pearson. Contemporary magical and pagan religions will then be looked at. Students must complete a dissertation on a subject of their choice. "I would expect topics such as paganism versus occultism, paganism versus Christianity, or how magic is represented in film," says Dr Pearson.

g.mccann@independent.co.uk

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