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The department has a research tradition stretching back two decades and is currently working towards increased recognition and success in the next Research Excellence Framework (REF).  

At a time when it is possible to believe that for some travel narrows rather than broadens the mind, the nature and scope of our research takes us all over the world and we have established links with a wide range of universities and research partners, in countries such as China, Spain and the USA. Our current interests include social media, fan culture, conflict and the media, food, film, popular music, visual culture and cultural identity and staff and postgraduate students are currently undertaking a wide variety of investigations into these various areas of interest. Our experienced researchers have staged events at universities in the UK and overseas, supervise and examine internal and external PhD students, and are regularly invited as keynote speakers at conferences and seminars around the world. Staff in the Department of Media are also recognised through their membership on the editorial boards of journals such as Atlantis and Rock Music Studies.

Operating alongside the School-wide Chester Centre for Research in Arts and Media (CCRAM), the department’s Media Research Network (MRN) seeks to consolidate and promote multi and inter-disciplinary research across the institution. The following aims underpin MRN strategy: 

  • To promote the growth and development of media-based research 
  • Support equality, diversity and inclusivity in the development and pursuit of research
  • To develop closer ties and encourage multi and inter-disciplinary thinking and activity within and beyond the Department of Media
  • To create an engaged and active community of researchers within the department, and beyond, providing support, mentorship, and encouragement to each other
  • To champion and promote excellence in our research and contribute to its wider dissemination
  • To provide a supportive and enabling environment and platform for postgraduate students to engage in media-related research from a range of disciplines
  • To engage with academics and other research networks and centres nationally and internationally
  • To attract full and part-time students to our research programmes that complement and enhance the work of the department
  • To increase research income to the department that supports further research excellence.

In recent years, the department has increased its number of PhD students. We are particularly excited by opportunities to reflect our global research interests and actively welcome proposals for doctoral level study from enthusiastic and dedicated colleagues and students. 

If you are interested in pursuing research with us please do not hesitate to get in touch. We would love to hear from you.

Activity and Environment

Although we are spread across two locations in Chester and Warrington, our staff and students form a very close and increasingly active research community. Our interests span a broad range of interdisciplinary topics, including social media, popular music, fandom, food, film, conflict and the media, and cultural identity as well as emerging expertise in aspects of teaching and learning in a media arts context. The breadth and depth of these areas of interest connect directly with the development of our taught curricula: our lectures and modules are frequently informed by staff research interests and thinking at the forefront of our disciplines.

As a department that prides itself on its industry and vocational relevance, many colleagues benefit both from experience gained in the creative industries prior to entering HE and from doctoral level qualifications attained subsequently – one often reflecting the other. With more than half of the department actively engaged in research in some form and all engaged in scholarly activity that maintains the practical and theoretical currency of our programmes, the symbiosis of theory and practice lends a particular currency and relevance to our research. 

Research activity in the department is catalysed by the recently established Media Research Network (MRN), which holds at least three research meetings a year and runs a Moodle hub page for all colleagues and PhD students. It is complemented by a faculty-wide research network called CCRAM (Chester Centre for Research in Arts and Media) that stages various research days and events every year. CCRAM champions the activities in the Faculty as a whole and aims to create an inclusive research environment. The Faculty also hosts two annual REF/TEF events through which aspects of colleagues’ research, approaches to research, and excellent pedagogic practice is disseminated, explored and celebrated. All staff and research students are invited to attend and encouraged to present and contribute to discussion. 

In recent years, the department has held a number of national and international symposia and conference events, most of which have led to the creation of edited volumes. The themes of such events have included music fandom (2010 and 2015); popular music and automobile culture (2012); World War II and the media (2012); sport, media and regional identity (2013), World War I – media, entertainments and popular culture (2015), and communicating food (2017). Our staff have also led research events in conjunction with our friends and colleagues at universities in the UK and overseas, including A Conference on Love and Rock Music (Montpellier, 2014) and New Perspectives on Elvis (Memphis, 2017). 

The Sport, Media and Regional Identity symposium marked the arrival of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup by celebrating Warrington’s Rugby League traditions alongside its civic identity and history.  This symposium led to an edited volume (currently in print) and attracted delegates from both the international academic and local communities. As the Warrington Campus and wider region prepares for the return of the Rugby League World in 2021, the Media Research Network is beginning its preparation for a follow-on conference exploring the social, cultural and political aspects of the game in a broader context. 

In sum, we pride ourselves in creating an environment which, encourages, supports and improves participation in research, achieves a high standard of excellence and recognition, and looks for opportunities to develop its activities and its impact in local and global contexts.


In recent years, the department has extended its role in the wider community and a variety of exciting joint projects have harnessed the enthusiasm of staff and students who have worked alongside businesses and public bodies. Our portfolio of projects has diversified and expanded to include partners such as the BFI. Staff in the department have also written for media outlets such as The Guardian and The Conversation. Their expert comments have been featured in various publications including Rolling Stone, and The New York Times. In April 2014, Chancellor George Osborne cited research undertaken by one of our staff members in his Spring budget.

Recently commissioned projects pursued by staff in the department include:

  • Partnering with Chester’s Storyhouse cinema to investigate immersive, virtual reality cinema
  • Working with Chester Football Club to develop and improve its social media reach and fan engagement strategy
  • Helping to organise the annual Louder than Words national music writing festival in Manchester.