COMM 200 - Comparative British - U.S. Media Systems

Winter, 2002 - London England

Instructor: Elizabeth M. Perse

Course Description and Objectives: This class will focus on British media systems, specifically an examination of broadcast, print, and music media as they compare and contrast with U.S. media. We will consider how globalization has affected media content. Students will become more aware of the influence of different government regulation, economic systems, and societal structure on media content. Satisfies University of Delaware Arts & Sciences Group C Requirement and communication major elective.

Text: Tunstall, J., & Machin, D. (1999). The Anglo-American media connection. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Readings: Additional readings will be available on the Web.

London home page readings address:

Grading: Grading will be based on four element: initial paper, media journal, the group project, and a media description paper.

Initial Paper: Students will write a short, 2-3 page paper that will prepare them to compare U.S. and British media. Read the first chapter in the Browne text (which will be available online). You may also rely on material in the required text. Then, identify some major bases for comparing U.S. and British media. Some examples might involve comparisons of program genres, economics, or regulation. Submit the paper to me via email ( by December 24. This paper is worth 10 points.

Media Log: Students will keep a media journal that records their use of various British mass media. In the journal, record day and time, which medium was read, viewed, or listened to, what the content was, personal reactions to the content, and critical comments about and similarities or differences to U.S. media content. The entries do not need to be lengthy, but they should include enough material so that the student and instructor both have a good idea of media use during the London stay. Student may reference their journals when preparing their media description paper. The media log is due by February 18 (two weeks after the beginning of Spring semester) and is worth 15 points.

Group Project: As part of the coordination between the two courses, students will complete a group project/presentation. Before we leave for London, we will divide the class into three groups: visual (television), audio (recorded music and radio), and print (newspapers and magazines). Each group will have the entire class meeting to present their material to the class. Because this is a communication class, I expect that each group will spend the last 20-30 minutes of the class generating discussion about the topic. Because students are also being graded for their presentation as part of COMM 350, each group member must present for at least 8 minutes.

Each group should consider themselves the "expert" on the topic and think of the presentation as giving the rest of the class (and the instructors) a solid overview of the important material about their topic. Each project should include the following information:

Each group member will receive the same grade. The group presentation is worth 45 points.

Media Description Paper: Students will complete a 4-5 page paper, due after we return to the UD campus. But, students will need to complete their research while we are in London. In this paper, students will select one media form, present some history of the form, show how it has influenced or been influenced by the forms of other countries (notably, the U.S.). What does this media form reveal about the differences between U.S. and British media systems? Some examples of media forms include a particular television genre (e.g., children's programs, soap operas, sports programming, local news, national news, CNN), a specific newspaper, a specific popular music genre, a specific radio format, or a particular film genre (e.g., murder mystery, action-adventure). Students should clear their choices with me before the end of Fall semester. I expect students to spent some time exploring their chosen form while we are in London and use specific examples drawn from first hand reading, viewing, listening in the paper. This paper is worth 30 points and will be due by February 18 (two weeks after the beginning of Spring semester).

Students registering for the honors section should include a theoretical grounding and link conclusions to theory. I will place some theoretical readings on the course Web site for background.

Note: You may use material you are working on for your group project as part of your Media Description paper. You may also use material for your Media Description paper as the topic of one of your speeches for COMM 350. You may not preview material for the group project in one of your speeches for COMM 350.

Grades: There is a total of 100 points to be earned in the class. Grades will be assigned as follows:
93+ points = A 77 - 82 = B- 63 - 66 = D+
87 - 92 = A- 73 - 76 = C+ 60 - 62 = D
83 - 86 = B+ 70 - 72 = C 57 - 59 = D-
80 - 82 67 - 69 = C- Below 57 = F