Module code: POLM036

Module Overview

This module is concerned with understanding the role of political communication in contemporary politics. Arguably parties use the media to influence voters, but the media also has a role in holding (selected) politicians to account. This unit explores the various theoretical perspectives on the role of political communication and the media, before moving on to consider a series of empirical examples. The unit also covers key topics relevant to political communication including the relationship between political parties and the national media; whether it is the role of political broadcasts, televised debates, or the impact of rolling news coverage on the ability of politicians to control the media. It considers how changes in media have offered new opportunities for citizenship and democracy, including agenda setting. It also explores how parties and political organisations have adapted advertising strategies to use these new media. There is a focus on key issues in contemporary political events and case studies will be situated throughout the module. Students will also gain coding and content analysis skills in order to explore how key topical political themes are framed in political communication.

Module provider


Module Leader

MIDDLETON Alia (Politics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Understanding political communication

  • Hidden power, pseudo-events and fake news

  • The political press

  • Strategical electoral communication and campaign targeting

  • What works? Mood and negativity in political communication

  • Framing in political communication: migration and the outsider dynamic

  • Framing in political communication: representing power

  • Case study of a current/recent election

  • Political organisation and new media forms

  • The media and voting behaviour: does it make a difference?

  • E Democracy and new forms of campaigning

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Media Critique (2000 words) 50
Coursework Essay (2000 words) 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

  • The ability to apply theoretical concepts to political communications

  • The collection and analysis of original communication material

  • Strong use of primary research skills.

  • The ability to integrate original research with existing literature/knowledge.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of: 

  • Media Critique: 2000 words (50%)

  • Essay : 2000 words (50%)

For the media critique students are required to offer a critique of an existing piece of political communication, drawing on the unit. Please see the module handbook for further information. Students are free to select the media source (but will be given an outline of things to look for) and may opt to do a comparative study. Assessments deadlines to be confirmed – students should refer to the Module Handbook prior to the start of semester.

Formative assessment and feedback

Students will receive feedback on the first assessment before submitting the essay. Time will be set aside in seminars to discuss aspects of the assessment. Where students are asked to complete small tasks in advance of - or during - classes, verbal feedback will be given to the group as a whole.

Module aims

  • Introduce students to a range of theoretical perspectives on the role of the political communication
  • Offer an insight into which the media facilities political engagement
  • Consider the impact of new media on parties and voter behaviour
  • Explore how media strategies have changed contemporary politics
  • Understand key ways in which political communication facilities citizenship

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Understand key theoretical trends in political communication KC
002 Critically appraise existing political communication KCPT
003 Analyse key framings in political media KCP
004 Critically evaluate the changing process of political communication KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Encourage critical engagement with political communication.

  • Facilitate the analysis of political communication by encouraging the use of transferrable research skills

  • Encourage independent research between classes

The learning and teaching methods include:

Workshop sessions (2 hours per week x 11 weeks) to include: lectures, prescribed reading, group discussions, coding sessions, independent study, research and analysis of primary material. May include the preparation of short tasks prior to the weekly seminars (information to be given to students in the preceding seminar).

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: POLM036

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Public Affairs MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.