Advertising: Commerce and Creativity

The details
Sociology and Criminology
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
15 March 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA NP5312 Advertising, Marketing and the Media,
MA NP53MO Advertising, Marketing and the Media

Module description

This module forms a core component of the MA Advertising, Marketing and the Media. It draws on the expanding body of sociological, historical and cultural scholarship on advertising and consumer society. In doing so, the module explores the organisational and institutional structures of the advertising industry since the late nineteenth century, focusing on the growth of the service advertising agency in Britain and North America.

The module charts the internationalisation of advertising through the twentieth century and the rise of global advertising and brand promotion in more recent times. It also reflects on the economic role of advertising in supporting other media and the forms of professional knowledge, expertise and workplace cultures of the industry. Alongside these empirical concerns, the module also seeks to reflect theoretically on advertising as a market device and creative practice.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To develop a historical understanding of advertising as a commercial practice.

  • To explore the institutional and organisational structures of the industry.

  • To explore the international and global dynamics of advertising.

  • To develop an understanding of the emergence of particular cultures of selling and promotion and the expert knowledge associated with them.

  • To develop an advanced understanding of advertising as a commercial and creative practice.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the historical formation of Anglo-American advertising and service advertising agencies;

  2. Demonstrate an understanding of forms of professional self-organisation within advertising and its forms of occupational identity;

  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the competing forms of advertising remuneration and the creative challenges of competing advertising media;

  4. Problematize ideas of consumer sovereignty and commercial domination;

  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the theorization of creativity and the ways in which it is organised and understood within advertising practice;

  6. Understand the competing forms of commercial sociology deployed within advertising.

Module information


  • Introduction: How do you study Advertising?

  • The Rise of the Advertising Agency.

  • International and Global Advertising.

  • Brands and Branded Corporations.

  • Advertising and Media Forms Workshop.

  • Understanding the Consumer.

  • Genres of Persuasion.

  • Cultural Intermediaries and the World of Advertising.

  • Advertising and Creativity.

  • Review of module and Essay Preparation

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 2-hour seminar each week.

Attendance in person is expected.


  • Sinclair, John. (2012) Advertising, the media and globalisation: a world in motion, London: Routledge.
  • Roy Church. (2000) 'Advertising Consumer Goods in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Reinterpretations', in The Economic History Review. vol. 53 (4) , pp.621-645
  • Hoggart, Richard. (1970) Speaking to each other: essays, London: Chatto & Windus.
  • Mazzarella, William. (2003) Shoveling smoke: advertising and globalization in contemporary India, Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Miller, Peter; Rose, Nikolas. (1997-02) 'Mobilizing the Consumer', in Theory, Culture & Society. vol. 14 (1) , pp.1-36
  • Nixon, Sean. (2006) ''The Pursuit of Newness: advertising, creativity and the 'narcissism of minor differences', in Cultural Studies. vol. 20 (1) , pp.89-106
  • De Grazia, Victoria. (2005) Irresistible empire: America's advance through twentieth-century Europe, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • Elizabeth Rose McFall. (2004) Advertising: a cultural economy, London: SAGE. vol. Culture, representation and identity series
  • Nixon, Sean. (2013) Hard sell: advertising, affluence and transatlantic relations, c. 1951-69, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Crawford, Robert. (2008) But wait, there's more: a history of Australian advertising, 1900-2000, Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.
  • Arvidsson, A. (2005) 'Brands: A critical perspective', in Journal of Consumer Culture. vol. 5 (2) , pp.235-258

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 Coursework weighting
Coursework   Research Report     10% 
Coursework   Essay     90% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Sean Nixon, email:
Professor Sean Nixon



External examiner

Dr Umut Erel
Open University
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (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
Sociology and Criminology

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

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.