Critical Marketing Perspectives

The details
Essex Business School
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
11 June 2020


Requisites for this module
BE400 and BE511 and BE518



Key module for

BSC N2N5 Management and Marketing (Including Foundation Year),
BSC NN25 Management and Marketing,
BSC NN2M Management and Marketing (Including Placement Year),
BSC NNF5 Management and Marketing (Including Year Abroad),
MMANNN35 Marketing and Management,
MMANNN36 Marketing and Management (Including Placement Year),
MMANNN37 Marketing and Management (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

In the current brand-dominated and globalised world of business and management, saturated with advertisements, a critical understanding of marketing activities and how they affect businesses and individuals is a requirement for a general management and marketing career as well as for civic participation in contemporary society.

This module builds upon students' existing understanding of marketing by considering contemporary issues that are not normally taught and thought about in connection to the marketing management field. Therefore, an advanced understanding of marketing in its contemporary setting will be aimed at.

Today, marketing is arguably part of everyday life and it is embedded in all spheres of society. Besides its normal corporate function of selling products and services to consumers, marketing processes can be observed in wider civil society, such as governments, NGOs, charities and social movements. Thus, one can talk about marketing as a domain, rather than simply as a corporate function.

This module will discuss a variety of issues that show how marketing can be understood in such terms in a range of different, contemporary settings. It will introduce its participants to a range of conceptual and theoretical resources to critically examine the role of marketing in society, and to understand how marketing is brought into being both as a corporate function, as well as a social phenomenon.

Module aims

The module has been designed to:

1. Provide an understanding of marketing as a historical discourse that is contested in a variety of ways.
2. Provide an insight into contemporary issues facing marketing and enable students to engage with and critique these.
3. Engage students in critical analysis of marketing discourses and contemporary marketing issues.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

1. Understand marketing as a discourse that is embedded and reproduced in a variety of different spheres of society.
2. Engage with a variety of contemporary issues of marketing and apply a critical understanding of marketing to everyday life.
3. Understand the historical emergence of the marketing discourse.
4. Critically analyse, using appropriate marketing and social science concepts and theories, marketing discourses and practices in contemporary society.
5. Through class discussion, reading, participation and assessment develop your abilities to engage in critical analysis of marketing discourses and contemporary marketing issues, and develop an awareness of your own role and position within them.

Skills for your professional life (Transferable Skills)
During this module you will develop:

1. Critical thinking skills through coursework assignment and group discussions around contemporary marketing issues and the nature of marketing in society.
2. Argumentation skills as you present your thoughts and ideas in essays.
3. Analytical skills as you connect academic theories and concepts to contemporary marketing issues.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

The module is normally delivered in weekly two-hour sessions. This will enable the module to include both formal lecture sections as well as related group work, discussion and consultation. In academic year 2020-2021 the delivery is likely to be different and involve online learning.


  • Ellis, Nick. (2011) Marketing: a critical textbook, London: SAGE.
  • Schroeder, Jonathan E.; Zwick, Detlev. (2004-03) 'Mirrors of Masculinity: Representation and Identity in Advertising Images', in Consumption Markets & Culture. vol. 7 (1) , pp.21-52
  • Gabriel, Yiannis. (2004) Myths, stories, and organizations: premodern narratives for our times, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Christian Jantzen; James Fitchett; Per Østergaard; Mikael Vetner. (2012) 'Just for fun? The emotional regime of experiential consumption', in Marketing Theory. vol. 12 (2) , pp.137-154
  • Cherrier, Hélène; Murray, Jeff B. (2004-06) 'The Sociology of Consumption: The Hidden Facet of Marketing', in Journal of Marketing Management. vol. 20 (5-6) , pp.509-525
  • Anderson, Stephanie; Hamilton, Kathy; Tonner, Andrea. (2016-09) 'Social labour', in Marketing Theory. vol. 16 (3) , pp.383-400
  • Zakia, Richard D.; Nadin, Mihai. (1987) 'Semiotics, advertising and marketing', in Journal of consumer marketing. vol. 4 (2) , pp.5-12
  • Gabriel, Yiannis. (2000) Storytelling in organizations: facts, fictions, and fantasies, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Featherstone, Mike. (2007) Consumer culture and postmodernism, Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
  • Halnon, Karen Bettez; Cohen, Saundra. (2006-03) 'Muscles, Motorcycles and Tattoos', in Journal of Consumer Culture. vol. 6 (1) , pp.33-56

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Exam  120 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
40% 60%


Coursework Exam
40% 60%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Stephen Murphy, email:
Stephen Murphy, Mario Burghausen



External examiner

Mr Ben Lowe
University of Kent
Professor of Marketing
Available via Moodle
Of 22 hours, 22 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Essex Business School

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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