Greg Philo is Research Director of the Glasgow University Media Unit (Glasgow Media Group) and is Professor of Communications and Social Change in the department of Sociology at Glasgow University.


I have led the Media Unit for a period of 20 years and in that time it has had a substantial impact on the theory and practice of mass communications in this country and abroad.  We have pioneered research methods focusing on the use of language in news and other media formats and have investigated how meanings are established for audiences.  The influence of our work has extended well beyond the normal boundaries of media/communications studies.  It is used extensively across the social sciences and by researchers in areas such as risk analysis, mental health and other areas of social policy.

The Media Unit and the research methodologies which have been designed here have become models for development elsewhere.  The work of the Unit has had a major impact on the curricula of media and communication studies and is cited extensively in academic texts.  Research links have been established with other academic bodies including the departments of Psychiatry and Statistics in Medicine at the University of Oxford, with whom we produced a joint study of the impact of television programmes on public understanding of health.  The results of this study were published in the British Medical Journal and in the Media Group publication Message Received (Longman, 1999).

We have also established a series of research links with national bodies and professional associations to advise on key areas of public policy.  The Royal College of Psychiatrists used our research on mental illness and media as the basis for a statement on broadcasting policy and guidelines for journailsts.  In our research on media and ethnic minorities, we set up an advisory group with representatives from the Commission for Racial Equality, the Runnymede Trust, the Institute for Public Policy Research and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.  We worked with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children on a joint publication on media coverage of child deaths.  Recently we produced another report for the NSPCC on media coverage and public understanding of sentencing policy in relation to crimes against children.

The Media Unit has an extensive research programme with a series of major awards from the ESRC and other grant giving bodies.  For example, in conjunction with the MRC Sociology Unit we obtained a substantial award to study media representations of AIDS between 1988-91.  We have also worked closely with the Health Education Board for Scotland in a series of studies of mental health and media (1993-5).  A large number of public bodies have asked us to undertake research studies for them.  These include the Central Office of Information and the DHSS (AIDS and Media), the Manpower Service Commission (Images of Training), The Consumers Association (Content of National Press), and the Health Education Board for Scotland (Images of Heart Disease and Smoking). 

Major awards since December 1995

December 1995 (Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust): Media Images of Migration/Race

July 1996 (ESRC): BSE and Public Belief

October 1996 (Nuffield Hospitals Trust): Public Attitudes and Television Medical Fiction (linked to funding at Oxford University)

January 1997 (NHS Executive): The Role of the Media in Public and Professional Understanding of Breast Cancer

May 1997 (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries*): Information Sources and their Influence on Public Perceptions of Food Hazards

January 1999 (Department for International Development): Television Coverage of the Developing World

July 2000 (Department for International Development): Audience Comprehension of the Developing World

April 2002 (ESRC): Audience Understanding of TV News and Documentary

October 2006 (British Council): Cultural Transfer: On the Importance of Direct Experience on Perceptions of British and Chinese Society

June 2008 (Jackie Cooper Public Relations) Young People's Attitudes to Alcohol Consumption

October 2009 (SHiFT/Department of Health) Public Understanding of Mental Health

January 2010 (NSPCC) Media Coverage and Public Understanding of Sentencing Policy in Relation to Cruelty and Harm to Children