Birmingham University is introducing a Social Networking Masters Degree, with costs starting at 4,400GBP for the year. The course would teach students how to use Facebook and Twitter for marketing and communications purposes.
Criticism is of course rife, with accusations that it is too basic and teaching stuff that could easily be self taught. I think there is a place in a marketing degree for a subject on social networking, and how it could be used for marketing purposes, however, a whole year? No wonder it is basic, you would have to stretch it out over 26 weeks.
Add to this the fact that social media is an infant of a subject – it is still evolving at a rapid pace. This time last year no one even knew what Twitter was, and now it is being discussed in lectures? No time left to see if it is a simple flash in the pan? And what about MySpace? That was the social media tool of choice two years ago and has been totally subsumed by Facebook now. If you study for a year in this Masters, would what you learnt even be relevant a week after you graduate?
The convener of the course, Jon Hickman, does not endear himself to me with this quote:
“It’s not for freaks or IT geeks, the tools learnt on this course will be accessible to many people.”
Which is a strange quote, and kind of offensive insinuating that the normal users of Twitter and Facebook are freaks or IT Geeks (and if this was true, what kind of marketing strategy does this guy have in mind?)
I do agree that social media is of use to marketers, business owners, PR people, journalists and other people working in communciations, however, this degree seems akin to a degree in how you can use a telephone. In this day and age, social networking is a basic tool that millions of people are using, and if you can’t use other social media (i.e. blogs, forums, etc), to find out more and teach yourself, then that should be an automatic fail anyway!
A quick search on Twitter is not showing any support for the idea of a social media degree. With comments like “I thought my degree in PR was bad”.