Chris Birchall

Chris Birchall


I am Lecturer in Digital Media, co-convener of the Digital Culture research group and a member of the Political Communication and Critical Data Studies research groups. My background is that of a professional software and web developer, having worked in a variety of positions in IT companies, as a freelancer, in the voluntary sector, the NHS and within Higher Education. After postgraduate study in Geographical Information Systems sparked my interest in public participation in local planning and policy debates I moved on to study the role of technology in the public sphere and the effects of technological mediation of the social world. I joined the School in 2010 as a Research Associate, becoming a lecturer in 2016 after completing a PhD which focused on interface design, social dynamics and political conversation in online spaces.


  • Co-convenor, Digital Cultures Research Group

Research interests

My research interests include digital methods and their application to the study and practice of digital citizenship, political communication online, and mobile and digital technologies and social change. I've worked on a number of projects within the department, investigating local media ecologies and using digital methods and tools to investigate the potential and impact of social media on public engagement by institutions and the political voice of citizens. With a background in web, software, database and GIS development I have skills in a wide range of technologies, languages, databases and tools. As well as teaching content related to these skills, I also like to employ them within digital research methodologies, to investigate how digital technologies can be utilised to affect social, and particularly political, change. My PhD: Understanding large scale public political conversation online in austerity Britain through an iterative, quali-quanti investigation, investigated the role of website interface design in the behaviour of participants in online political discussion. The study aimed to shed light on how current and emerging technologies may be used, within specific niches on the web, to promote productive cross-cutting political discussion. In order to analyse large scale, emergent conversation online I developed an innovative methodology that brought together big data approaches and smaller scale qualitative methods to combine the broad patterns and headline figures of automated analysis with deeper understanding of human communication and interaction.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD Online Political Conversation
  • MSc Geographical Information Systems
  • MS E-commerce Technologies
  • BSc Biology

Professional memberships

  • HEA Fellow

Student education

As a member of the Digital Media teaching team I teach a number of modules on the BA Digital Media programme focusing on the critical engagement with issues of technology and society, as well as practical content relating to web/app design and development and digital research methods. I also teach on the MA New Media programme, providing content on digital research methods and digital production.

Research groups and institutes

  • Digital Cultures
  • Political Communication

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>