Learning Initiative

The Media Studies major at the University of California at Berkeley is an undergraduate interdisciplinary group major in the Office of Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Studies (UGIS). Our faculty come from a variety of disciplines, bringing the perspectives and methods of their fields to bear on the analysis of the mass media. Our emphasis in the major is analytical and historical; we are largely concerned with developing in students the ability to assess the roles and impact of the major mass media on American life. Ours is not a pre-professional course of study, but a liberal arts discipline that weds traditions from communication, anthropology, sociology, political science, and journalism with contemporary critical and cultural studies theory.

Our four core courses examine media history, institutions, and policy as well as theory and criticism. Students learn to analyze the impact of the media on public policy and to explore the role of media and popular culture in contemporary society.

learning initiative table

In addition to the core courses, students must take an approved methods course in the social sciences and at least four approved elective courses. In the elective courses offered by the Media Studies program, whether students focus on film, television, international media, or political discourse, they are asked to develop critical thinking and analytical skills. Students may also choose to take approved electives offered by other disciplines on campus -- anthropology, English, history, linguistics, journalism, political science, and sociology to name a few.

Critical analysis in Media Studies involves identifying and evaluating evidence, understanding theoretical concepts and being able to apply them to new media materials or situations, and examining the relationships between words and images.