Political Communication

Module code: MS2001
Module co-ordinator: Dr Vincent Campbell

Module outline

Politics is at the heart of contemporary society and the media are at the heart of contemporary politics. Both traditional media like newspapers and television, and new media like YouTube and Twitter are regularly filled with political content, and this module addresses the core conceptual issues in the communication of politics.

The overarching theme is a perceived crisis in contemporary politics - where political elites are highly skilled in manipulating the media, where the media themselves cover politics in problematic and questionable ways, and these combine to make citizens less likely to participate and engage with politics. We will cover issues such as 'spin' and how different actors, from corporations to pressure groups, compete to control media agendas around political issues like climate change, immigration and the economy.

We will focus primarily on the UK and the USA with international examples included, looking at things like how 'celebrity' politicians construct and manage their political image, and how public relations, advertising and marketing are used in politics. We will also explore how new media might offer an answer to the 'crisis' by giving citizens new spaces through which to participate, engage and express their political identities.

Topics covered

  • Public relations and propaganda
  • Government communication
  • Political marketing
  • Political advertising
  • Political image
  • Pressure groups and the media


  • 11 hours of lectures
  • 11 hours of seminars 
  • 11 hours of practical classes and workshops
  • 117 hours of guided independent study


  • Essay, 2,000 words (70%)
  • Presentation, 500 words (30%)
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