HFMK03504U FM, Research Design and Empirical Methods - Seminar B: Digital Communication and Media Culture: Fantastic scandals and how to research them

Volume 2022/2023

Master in Film and Media Studies, 2019-curriculum


In this seminar, we will focus on empirical methods in the context of ‘socio-mediated scandals’ (Zulli 2020). We will investigate how scandals are co-constructed across platforms by traditional media and social media users who are now contributing to the salience, negotiation, and evaluation of transgressions. We will discuss what constitutes a scandal in the digital age, who is involved in which ways, which dynamics are unleased in traditional and social media (e.g., bottom-up exposing of scandals and participation of marginalized voices, yet also shitstorms and hate speech), and what the public value of scandals in modern democracies might be. Scandals are used as showcases to highlight the challenges of grasping social phenomena by the means of empirical research and will demonstrate the creativity necessary to gain insights into complex communicative interactions in vibrant digital media contexts.

The seminar is complementary to the lecture “Research Design and Empirical Methods.” Our discussions will build on the lecture´s content and we will discuss follow-up questions. Yet, most importantly, you will prepare and conduct your own research project on a socio-mediated scandal with a case of your choice, which you will develop in groups throughout the seminar. In preparation, the seminar will deepen your knowledge on empirical research by us examining exemplary study designs and specific methods applied in the research of scandals. You will learn to apply your knowledge on how to decide which method fits a research question best, how methods differ when it comes to qualitative, quantitative, and computational approaches, and we will do exercises that will help you to put your knowledge into practice.

Additional information: This seminar is financially supported by the research-integration project of KU. This allows us to print posters and hold a professional academic poster session at the end of the seminar in which you will be able to present your projects to each other and potential guests. Presenting your poster as a group will be one of the mandatory assignments of the seminar and you can find an example of such a session that was very well received by your fellow M.A. students last year here: https://comm.ku.dk/research/media-studies/news/masters-students-poster/. In addition, we have got a budget for public science communication that enables us to produce a Podcast in which your projects will be summarized and made available to an interested broader public. This is an optional offer for some of you who are interested in doing a media production project after the seminar, including a small financial compensation for your work. More details will be given once we meet in person.

Learning Outcome

At the examination, the student is able to demonstrate:


Knowledge and understanding of:

  • the application of qualitative and quantitative empirical research methods to answer a given research question.
  • the theoretical bases underpinning different qualitative and quantitative methods, their respective explanatory efficacy, and how they are embedded in different research traditions.
  • mixed-method strategies, including the use of digital IT tools, their complex interaction, and how they may be applied to different film and media research questions.


Skills to:

  • formulate a research question and develop a complex, theoretical research design that necessitates the application of several empirical methods.
  • use different tools to collect and analyse different types and amounts of data and reflect critically on the tools used and the results achieved.
  • present a research design and argue for the selected methods in both written and spoken forms.


Competencies to:

  • select and combine the right methodological and theoretical tools to address a research question.
  • assess the chosen strategy and the applicability and validity of the research in relation to specific functions and contexts.

plan, conduct and present the results of empirical research based on film and media theory and methodology.


The joint seminars rely on a textbook on research designs and empirical methods. The seminar tracks use academic texts within the particular field that the seminar focuses on. Teaching and readings are predominantly in English.

Required academic qualifications
The course presupposes basic knowledge of qualitative and quantitative methods in film- and media research. If a student is not familiar with the methods beforehand, it is expected that the student acquires
knowledge of these methods on their own during the semester.
Lectures, seminars, in-class participation, presentations, group work, home assignments. In the first half of the semester, the course covers the fundamental stages in research designs. Here, lecturers and seminars supplement each other. In the second half of the semester, the teaching is primarily done as seminars, where students work on their own research projects in groups.
Be aware that you need to sign up for Education in both the Lectures HFMK03501U(counts 0 ECTS) and Seminar B (counts 15 ECTS):
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 367,5
  • Total
  • 409,5
Continuous feedback during the course
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Type of assessment
Exam registration requirements

Active class participation is defined as:

  • 2 approved oral or written exercises set by the seminar lecturer (10-15-minute presentation or 3-5 standard pages per submission).
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

https://kunet.ku.dk/studie/film-og-medievidenskab-ka/Sider/Emne.aspx?topic=Find tid og sted&topicId=ef9bedf9-cd3b-41a7-ad09-fc3825b08664#ef9bedf9-cd3b-41a7-ad09-fc3825b08664



Criteria for exam assesment

Master in Film and Media Studies, 2019-curriculum:



Exams are conducted in English.