MC404      Half Unit
Political Communication

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Maggie Scammell TW2.7.01C


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Politics and Communication. This course is available on the MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and Fudan), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and USC) and MSc in Media and Communications (Media and Communications Governance). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is available to other students from the Department of Media and Communications, and students from other departments at the LSE. Students from the Department of Government are particularly welcome. 

Please note however that places are limited. In order to accommodate academic staff research leave and sabbaticals, and in order to maintain smaller seminar group sizes, this course is capped, meaning that there is a limit to the number of students who can be accepted. While we do our best to accommodate all requests, we cannot guarantee you a place on this course. 

Course content

The aim of the course is to examine the relationship between the media and political processes. It offers a critical review of key aspects of contemporary theory and research in political communications. It examines a range of interconnected issues concerning the politics/media relationship: media and political influence; political marketing; branding and news management; political reporting; media and public knowledge; and the 'crisis' of current civic communications.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to complete advance reading, prepare seminar presentations, and submit one essay of 1,500 words.

Indicative reading

Bennett, W. Lance, Regina G. Lawrence, and Steven Livingston. (2008) When the Press Fails: Political Power and the News Media from Iraq to Katrina. Reprint edition. Chicago, Ill.; Bristol: University Of Chicago Press.

Graber, Doris (Ed) (2007) Media Power in Politics, 5th edn;

Esser, F. and Pfetsch, B. (Eds) (2004) Comparing Political Communications, New York, Cambridge University Press;

Issenberg, S. (2012). The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns: Crown;

Norris, P. (2000) Virtuous Circle, Cambridge University Press;

Scammell, Margaret.( 2014) Consumer Democracy: The Marketing Of Politics. New York, NY USA: Cambridge University Press.

Scammell, M. and Semetko, H. Media, Journalism and Democracy: A Reader, Ashgate; Scammell, M. (1995) Designer Politics, Basingstoke, Macmillan;

Schudson, Michael. (2008) Why Democracies Need an Unlovable Press. 1 edition. Cambridge, UK ; Malden, MA: Polity.

Swanson, D. and Mancini, P. (Eds) (1996) Politics, Media and Modern Democracy.

Wolfsfeld, Gadi. (2011)  Making Sense of Media and Politics. New York: Routledge.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the LT.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 17.2
Merit 60.8
Pass 19.1
Fail 2.9

Teachers' comment

The course focuses on how politicians communicate with the public, and what developments in this area mean for democracy.

Students' comments

"I appreciate that all thoughts are being heard, in a polite way. Very active and interesting!"

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2015/16: 53

Average class size 2015/16: 13

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Lecture capture used 2015/16: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills