Personal profile

Scholarly biography

Dr Paula Hearsum lectures in Media at the University of Brighton specialising in Popular Music and Journalism across five undergraduate courses: Media Studies BA (Hons), Music Business and Media BA (Hons), Media, Industry and Innovation BA (Hons), Environment and Media Studies BA (Hons) and Media Production BA(Hons) as well as on three postgraduate degrees: Digital Media, Culture and Society MA, Journalism MA and Sport Journalism MA. She is currently the Learning and Teaching Lead for the School of Art and Media.

As a practitioner and academic, Paula believes that media is something you do as well as think about. Her professional background includes a decade as a music journalist before moving into new media as an Editor and consultant appearing on TV, radio as well as many public speaking engagements. Having launched the UK's first and leading student community website, studentUK, in 1997, Hearsum went on to work for a variety of companies including BBC, Channel 4 and the Department Children, Schools & Families. She was a regular judge for the Guardian Student Media Awards and has run workshops on digital journalism for industry professionals. She has written for many magazines and websites on music as well having worked as an editorial web consultant specialising in education.

Hearsum’s journalistic career includes contributions in the following magazines and newspapers: Vox (Staff Writer), NME, The Times, Red, Everywoman (Music Editor), 1015 (The Times supplement), SoundsThe Mac, Home Entertainment, Enjoy, Leeds Other Paper, Practical Parenting and Juno. She has also published several pieces on parenting.

Paula has a degree in Communication & Cultural Studies with Public Media BA (Hons) Trinity & All Saints, 1989 and Women’s Studies (MA) University of Westminster, 1995. She completed her PhD at the University of Brighton in 2016 focusing on the media representation of the deaths of popular musicians. She is a member of MeCCSA (Media, Communication & Cultural Association) and the International Association for the Study of Popular Music.

Paula has previously lectured at London Metropolitan University, Trinity & All Saints, Leeds, University of Westminster and the University of East London. She maintains and very much enjoys a relationship between academia and media practice through both streams of work and is continually inspired by her colleagues and students through her work at the University of Brighton.

Paula Hearsum’s main focus of research is the examination of the mediation of popular musician’s deaths as way to consider dominant social discourses and narratives. The legal, professional and ethical rules around writing about death are often broken when discussing popular musicians as a group and Paula’s research uses critical discourse analysis to demonstrate in what ways media institutions and the journalists as cultural intermediaries perform the roles of both reflecting and shaping social values. 

Her practitioner background as a music journalist combines with her academic disciplines in Media Studies, Popular Music Studies and Journalism Studies within this body of work, which includes published research in intersecting areas within this work such as obituary journalism, gender debates and Death studies.

Supervisory Interests

Dr Hearsum welcomes students undertaking postgraduate research projects in all aspects of popular music studies, including (but not limited to) music journalism, explorations around music, sexuality and gender and the representations of death and mortality in both music and the wider media and cultural industries. 

Her methodological interests also include Critical Discourse Analysis and Oral History.


Research interests

Publication and peer-review and editorial work

Journal referee

2023. Journalism Studies
2021.  RMA Popular Music Study Group 'Third space' journal proposal
2021. Journal of the Royal Music Association
2020. Death Studies
2020. Popular Music
2013. Journal of Celebrity Studies
2013. IASPM Journal


Academic publisher referee

2023. Routledge – Media Studies (3rd Ed) forthcoming
2021. Bloomsbury - Finding the Beat: Entertainment, Rhythmic Play, and Social Meaning in Rock Music
2021. Bloomsbury – Media Narratives in Popular Music
2021. Routledge – Power Without Responsibility (new edition)
2019. Intellect – Music By Numbers
2019. Bloomsbury - Dispatches from the Front: The Life and Writings of Ralph J. Gleason
2018. Sage – Introduction to Journalism Studies
2017. Sage - Media Audiences: Effects, Users, Institutions, and Power
2017. Routledge – Media Industries
2016. Routledge - Media Industries: An Introduction
2016. Routledge - Gender, Branding, and the Modern Music Industry
2015 Sage – Media Ethics at Work
2015. Sage – Social Media: A critical introduction
2014. Sage - Workplace Research:  The secrets to conducting practicable small-scale studies in organizational settings
2014. Bloomsbury – Scary Monsters
2014. Sage  – Journalism. New edition
2013. Taylor and Francis - Journalism Ethics and Regulation
2013. Palgrave Macmillan – Audio-Vision: Sound and Vision Culture series
2013. Routledge – The Celebrity Journalism Handbook
2013. Palgrave Macmillan – Audio-Vision: Sound and Vision Culture series
2012. Routledge - Journalism Ethics and Regulation. New edition.


Knowledge exchange

External funding peer-review

AHRC Fifty Years of British Music Video - Steering Committee member (Jan 2015-June 2018)

Knowledge exchange


Hearsum, P. 2018-present. MeCCSA Jan 2020 - University of Brighton. Conference committee

Hearsum, P. 2016. IASPM UK and Ireland – Brighton September 2016. Conference organiser

Hearsum, P. 2014.’ Remembering Stuart Hall: Film & Panel Discussion at University of Brighton, College of Arts and Humanities. Conference organiser

Knowledge exchange

Outreach and Public Engagement

Hearsum, P. 2013. ‘Sex and drugs and rock ‘n' roll deaths: how media coverage of musical celebrity deaths reflects social values’. Childhood Bereavement Network. May 2013. Plenary Session.

Approach to teaching

Dr Hearsum is a Senior Fellow of the HEA and teaches popular music, journalism and critical theories of media, popular culture and research methods. She has previously been Course Leader of Media Studies BA(Hons), Media, Industry and Innovation BA(Hons) and led the course development for Music Business and Media BA (Hons). In 2015 she was awarded the Excellence in Facilitating and Empowering Learning Award. 

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Media Representations of the deaths of Contemporary Popular Musicians


Award Date: 1 Jun 2016

Master, Women's Studies, University of Westminster


Award Date: 1 Jun 1995

Bachelor, Communication and Cultural Studies with Public Media BA(Hons), Leeds Trinity University


Award Date: 1 Jun 1989

Senior Fellow Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) Award Date: Jan 2017, Higher Education Academy

External positions

Member, International Association for the Study of Popular Music

1 Jan 2004 → …


  • M Music
  • Popular Music
  • NE Print media
  • Journalism


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