Year 2 in Hamburg - Journalism Across Cultures specialisation modules

The research oriented specialisation in Hamburg provides students with the analytical and methodological competencies necessary for understanding and researching transnational and global communication and developments in journalism. This understanding is central for the core aim of the specialisation: to prepare students to work professionally and independently on a national and international level in the field of communication.

Modules in Hamburg deal with phenomena shaped by respectively contributing to globalisation (e.g. migration, digitalization) and their consequences for public mediated communication on current affairs. 

Students can find the most up-to-date course descriptions and information about their courses in the online Course Catalogue called “Stine” and choose the relevant winter semester.

Module 1 // Media Systems and Journalism Cultures in an international comparative perspective // 10 ECTS

This module provides a national as well as a transnational perspective on media systems and journalism cultures through two courses, of which one will focus on media systems while the other will focus on journalism cultures.

Up to now media systems have usually been compared on the level of nation states and this is still an essential approach that is included in this module. In journalism studies the interest in cross-national research has increased substantially but usually focuses on the nation state as a unit of comparison, too. However, this does not do justice to globalisation processes in which the media are players while at the same time they are being shaped by these very processes.

Research has shown that journalism is strongly linked to the culture and the system within which it operates. It therefore makes sense to take the nation state as a starting point. The aim is to consider at the same time cultural patterns and international development that are of an extraterritorial nature.

Mancini (2008) points out that the concept of journalism culture allows us to consider two aspects simultaneously: a) to view journalism as a profession with its own procedures, traditions and norms and b) to link the profession to the general and political culture of the respective country. It also allows us to investigate claims for the growing homogenization of journalism practice in different political, cultural and regional circumstances.

Module Facts

Semester/term: Autumn 
University: University of Hamburg
Credits: 10 ECTS
Professors: Shameem Mamud, Wiebke Loosen and Kathrin Voss

Learning Outcome


  • An overview of relevant media systems, their similarities and differences
  • The ability to identify different comparative approaches and their usefulness
  • The ability to apply comparative theory and methodology
  • An overview of the debate on journalism norms /ideology


  • An understanding of the transnational (European as well as global) dimensions of media systems
  • An understanding of comparative methodologies and theories
  • An understanding of recent transformation processes and their significance for the role of media and journalism
  • An understanding of the cultural, social, political and ethical facets of media systems in a multi-level perspective
  • An understanding of to what extent the national system and culture shapes journalism practices and routines and to what extent these can be considered as cross-national and /or cross-cultural
  • An understanding of the concept of journalism culture and its uses


  • Ability to analyse the cultural, social, political and ethical facets of media systems on a national, European and global level
  • Ability to critically read and research in the area
  • Ability to critically analyse specific types of media (e.g. public service, commercial, state-controlled)
  • Awareness of the difficulties involved in the claim of homogenization of journalism practices and ethics and familiarity with different non-western concepts

Methods of Teaching and Assessment

The course is based on essays, group discussions, workshops, short lectures, student presentations and the writing of one or two papers. The final grade is composed of 90 per cent for the papers and 10 per cent for the coursework.

Indicative Reading List

  • Obijiofor, L., & Hanusch, F. (2011). Journalism Across Cultures: An Introduction. Basingstoke: Palgrave. 
  • Weaver, D. H., & Willnat. L. (2012). The Global Journalist in the 21st Century. New York: Routledge. 
  • Esser, F., & Hanitzsch, T. (2012). The Handbook of Comparative Communication Research. New York: Routledge. 
  • Hallin, Daniel C. /Mancini, Paolo (2004): Comparing media systems: three models of media and politics. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press
  • Kleinsteuber, Hans J. (2008): Comparing Between West and East - A Comparative Approach to Transformation. In: Glowacki, Michal (ed.): Comparing Media Systems. Budapest/New York

Module 2 // Processes of transcultural communication // 10 ECTS

The overall aim of this module is to reach a deeper understanding of processes of transcultural communication and shall be reached by a course and a combination of electives. 

Students can choose between two courses:

Audiences and Identities:

The aim of this seminar (5 ECTS) is to introduce the students thoroughly to audience studies with a focus on the construction of identities via media use. Media use is, in manifold ways, connected to identity construction. Throughout the last years, research has, in the wake of increasingly multicultural societies, dealt intensively with the roles that media play in the negotiation of local, regional, national and supranational identities. This seminar is, on the one hand, to theoretically reflect the relations and connections between media use and identity; on the other hand, to investigate two focus topics more closely: firstly, the interconnection of re-nationalising and trans-nationalising processes is to be exemplified by latest developments in former Europe; secondly, the question of what influence media use has on the development of (trans)cultural identities and public spheres shall be addressed.


Media Reception and Effects:

This seminar is concerned with research on the effects of mediated communication on its audiences and its users. Beside an in-depth examination of the media's constant influence on individuals we will discuss – in a second step – the influence of (journalistic) mass media on society by focusing on current research projects; at the moment this is a project on cross-cultural perceptions of food and food practices in mediated communication. Thereby we deal with classical theories in communication studies, namely ‘cognitive dissonance’, ‘agenda setting’, ‘framing and priming’ as well as ‘cultivation theory’. As a concluding part of every session we will discuss the limitations of the respective approaches, particularly in the context of media appropriation, gender, power and identity. Thus, the seminar will be a practice in reading scientific literature critically.

Students can choose between three electives (worth 5 ECTS each): Introduction to German language and Culture (for Non-Germans only); Internship in an intercultural setting; Exploring Communications as Profession. The latter combines the theoretical considerations from the journalism research courses with the question what the fast changing environment of communications for possible career fields.

Module Facts

Semester/term: Fall
University of Hamburg
Credits: 5 ECTS + 5 ECTS
Professors: Bettina Schütz, Nea Matzen, Uwe Hasebrink, Tabea Grzeszyk, Bernadette Geyer ( and Imke Hoppe 

Learning Outcome


  • An overview of relevant theories and findings on media use, media reception and media effects, focusing on processes of intercultural and transcultural communication


  • Understanding of the determinants of patterns of media use among certain groups
  • Understanding of the role of audiences for the development of transcultural communication and transnational public spheres


  • Ability to apply theoretical concepts of audience and reception studies to concrete cases of transcultural communication
  • Ability to design case studies, which allow the investigation of structures and processes of transcultural communication
  • Reflect and apply professional competences in an intercultural setting 

Methods of Teaching and Assessment

The course is based on group discussions, workshops, short lectures, student presentations and the writing of one or two papers. The final grade is composed of 90 per cent for the papers and 10 per cent for the coursework.

Indicative Reading List

  • Chalaby, Jean K. (2005): Deconstructing the transnational. A typology of cross-border television channels in Europe. In: New media and society, Jg.7, Heft 2/2005, S.155-175
  • Flew, Terry (2007): Understanding global media. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Georgiou, M.(2006): Diaspora, Identity and the Media. Diasporic Transnationalism and Mediated Spatialities. Hampton Press: Cresskill. Skovmand, M. & K. Ch. Schroder (eds.)(1992): Mediacultures Reappraising transnational media. London/New York: Routledge

Module 3 // Research Module in Journalism Studies // 10 ECTS

In this module the students will work on a research project in small groups; a project they will develop themselves. They will learn to apply the knowledge they have acquired so far by working on a concrete task. This again helps them to work in teams and to gain competencies in planning and organising projects.

The project develops in an issue-oriented way, which means that the development, the processing and the finishing of a concrete academic project, including a project report or a publication, lie at the centre of the workshop. This way, students prepare for their academic thesis and for future challenges in the job.  

Potential research fields (indicative):

  • Media constructions of climate change
  • Transformations of journalism in a changing media environment
  • The role of social networks and other new information intermediaries 
  • Transformations of the public sphere: transnationalization, fragmentation and entertainization
  • Sustainability issues in (social) media communication


Module Facts

Semester/term: Fall
Department of Social Science
Credits: 10 ECTS
Professors: Jessica Kunert, Kathrin Voss & Irene Neverla 

Learning Outcome

  • Written communication
  • Group work and presentation
  • Research strategies
  • applying adequate methodology
  • Information gathering
  • Furthermore, students will have gained a thorough knowledge in the respective research field covered and a deepened understanding of the issues in that field.


Master Thesis // 30 ECTS

In the thesis, the ability to conduct independent academic research in the areas taught during the two years must be shown. The topic of the master’s thesis should be an independent contribution to the material of the degree program. Preferably, the thesis is an academic paper examining a problem, which has arisen from, or has a connection with the modules taught in the Hamburg specialisation.

A presentation and discussion of the thesis project (usually about 3 days end of March) as well as methods related workshops twice in the summer term will be arranged.

Module Facts

Semester/term: Spring
University: University of Hamburg
Credits: 30 ECTS
Thesis format: Length: 60–80 pages (plus references and appendices)