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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Climate Change and the Media
Module Code CM3011
School School of Communications
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: David Robbins
Semester 2: David Robbins
Autumn: David Robbins
Module TeachersDavid Robbins
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Coursework Only

Climate change is a “wicked problem” (Rittel & Webber, 1973): it is multi-faceted and requires responses across multiple policy and social arenas. There remains a disconnect between the warnings of climate science and the political, policy and social responses. This module explores the media’s role in the complex dynamics of social responses to the issue. Students are introduced to normative media theories, and to theories of media effects, such as agenda-setting and framing. The levels of media coverage of climate change, and the content of the coverage, both in Ireland and in other territories, are examined. Media coverage of climate change across various media platforms, such as print, digital, social media and broadcast, are considered. Students will develop an understanding of the particular challenges climate change poses as a media topic, and will be able to critically evaluate coverage.

Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the ways in which the media operate in society;
2. Demonstrate a critical awareness of theories of media effects, such as agenda-setting and framing;
3. Demonstrate an ability to apply agenda systems theory to the analysis of the rise and fall of complex social problems in the media and policy arenas;
4. Display a systematic understanding of the nature of climate change as a media topic;
5. Use research tools and other techniques of inquiry to evaluate trends and characteristics of Irish and international media coverage of climate change;
6. Take responsibility for their own work and the work of their group, and lead and initiate group activity.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture11A structured, incremental approach is taken. Lectures focus on theoretical approaches to examining the media's role in society and with regard to climate change. The focus then moves to the examination of coverage from different territories, and to ways of evaluating such coverage. Journalists working in the field will deliver guest lectures.
Seminars11Students will research and present on topics related to media coverage of climate change.
Independent Study103Students are expected to consult the course materials and reading list in preparation for each lecture and presentation, and to prepare for their academic research paper.
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Week 1
Introduction to normative theories of the media

Week 2
Media effects 1 – agenda-setting

Week 3
Media effects 2 – framing

Week 4
Introduction to agenda systems theory

Week 5
Introduction to the sociology of journalism and the newsroom

Week 6
Climate change and news values

Week 7
Reading Week

Week 8
International trends and characteristics of media coverage of climate change

Week 9
Media coverage of climate change in Ireland

Week 10
Representations of sceptics and contrarians in media coverage of climate change

Week 11
Issue and frame competition in media coverage of climate change

Week 12
Class presentations

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
AssignmentStudents may choose to do EITHER a 5,000-word academic essay on an aspect of Irish or international media coverage of climate change OR a practical journalistic assignment. Students who chose the journalistic assignment option will be required to produce a piece of long-form journalism on a climate-related topic. The project must include interviews with a range of human subjects, some multimedia elements and hard data sources. Word length is between 2,000 and 3,000 words. Topics and approach for both options must be discussed with lecturer.70%Week 12
Group presentationPresentation, as individuals or in groups depending on class size, on set media-related topics. Assessment will be based on both process (how individuals or teams went about the project) and product (the final presentation). Peer and individual assessment will be used. Students will be expected to assess their own contribution to the project and that of their peers. Marks will be assigned as follows: product 60%; process 40%.30%Every Week
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Hallin, D. C., Mancini, P.: 2004, Comparing Media Systems, Cambridge University Press,
  • McCombs, M. E.: 2004, Setting the Agenda: the Mass Media and Public Opinion, Polity Press, Cambridge,
  • Fox, E., Rau, H.: 2016, Climate Change Communication in Ireland, Oxford University Press,
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
BSSCIBA Social Sciences & Cultural Innovation
BSSCIIBA Social Sciences & Cultural Innovation
BSSCINBA Social Sciences & Cultural Innovation
HMSAOStudy Abroad (Humanities & Soc Science)
JRBA in Journalism
MAJMA in Journalism

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