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Student Vacation Research Assistant: Social Media and Environmental Communication - Open only to current University of Worcester students (see * below)

The purpose of this project is to carry out background research for a peer-reviewed journal article on social media and environmental communication. The research is intended to further disseminate and extend findings from my book Green Media and Popular Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) around effective environmental communication. Specifically, the project will furnish primary data to underlie the production of a peer-reviewed journal article, an output intended for an expected submission to REF UoA36. The research follows up two key issues raised in the book: first, that critics have identified a dearth of audience research as the greatest obstacle to understanding media culture’s ability to communicate and raise awareness of issues such as climate change and sustainability; secondly, that social media may well be the most effective forum for disseminating and building such awareness. The project will develop a study of social media responses to popular environmental films and will examine three genres: narrative fiction (e.g. The Revenant), documentary (e.g. Before the Flood), animation (e.g. Moana). The results will offer a means to begin gauging, by studying immediate responses to films of audiences, how effectively environmental perspectives can be communicated in each of these genres of cinema.

*Please note that this post is open only to students completing the penultimate or final year of an undergraduate degree (or equivalent) at the University of Worcester or partner institutions;


Students completing, or who have completed, an undergraduate degree at another university (with 1st or 2:1 predicted/achieved) who are about to commence postgraduate studies at the University of Worcester.



Closing date: Friday 16 Jun 2017

Reference number: STUVRA1708 - 2007

Job details

Job details

Band 3, spinal column point 6, £8.44 per hour, plus £1.18 per hour holiday pay
Up to 37 hours per week
4 weeks full time (1.0 FTE) or part time equivalent (e.g. 8 weeks at 0.5 FTE)
Responsible to
Dr John Parham
Responsible for
Interview date

Institute of Humanities & Creative Arts

Explore the Institute of Humanities & Creative Arts

“We are a lively community of scholars, researchers and creative practitioners”
David Broster & Mehreen Mirza, Acting Heads of Institute



The University of Worcester is funding 20 Vacation Research Assistantships for the summer of 2017. These Research Assistantships will provide undergraduates and recent graduates with ‘hands on’ experience of working on a research project over the summer vacation, enabling them to gain insight into a research career, as well as enhancing their CV. These are prestigious awards, marking out a student as a future researcher and potential academic. In addition, this scheme provides UW staff leading on a research project with invaluable support in taking the project forward and experience of supporting and developing a young researcher.

On completion of the project, the supervisor and student must complete a report providing the following information:

  • Objectives set
  • Objectives met
  • Methods employed
  • Results
  • Conclusions
  • Outputs
  • Benefits to the student including training undertaken, skills developed, etc.


Main duties

Main duties

  1. Conduct a guided literature review identifying key secondary sources around the topics of: social media and environmental communication; and the impact of social media on audience reception research in media and communication studies.
  2. Identify up to six primary examples of contemporary ‘eco-cinema’ relating, respectively, to the three genres identified above i.e. two from each of the three genres.           
  3. conduct a guided investigation into the use of social media in audience reception research producing summaries that will:
    • identify the ethical implications of social media audience research;
    • identify the most appropriate method of social media data analysis
    • establish those social media platform(s) most likely to yield extensive and relevant data in relation to environmental communication and the primary texts.
  4. Data collection. Subject to the findings above, this will encompass:
    • collection and coding of data from social media responses to selected eco-cinema texts (e.g. tweets)
    • supply of data sets
    • a draft summary (approximately 1000 words) identifying key trends and conclusions from the responses gathered from the data.
  5. Review meeting to present, discuss and analyse data and to handover the data set.

*Maintain personal and professional development to meet the changing demands of the job; participate in appropriate training activities and encourage and support staff in their development and training.

*Take steps to ensure and enhance personal health, safety and well being and that of other staff and students.

*Carry out these duties in a manner that promotes equality of opportunity and supports diversity and inclusion, and takes into account the University's commitment to environmentally sustainable ways of working.

Person specification

Person specification


1. Grade profile at 2:1 or above

2. Degree level study in Media and Cultural Studies or a related discipline (e.g. English, Film Studies, History, Sociology)

3. Demonstrable knowledge and experience of using social media

4. Demonstrable research skills, or aptitude for research, in the following areas: literature review; qualitative methods of data collection and coding; research ethics

5. Familiarity with audience reception research (or equivalent)

6. Conscientious and systematic, with good time management skills


1. Some familiarity with eco-criticism or environmental humanities





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