MC417      Half Unit
Democracy and the Media

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Bart Cammaerts TW2-601c


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Politics and Communication. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

This course examines the links between the media and democracy in theory and practice. The range of issues examined include: theories of democracy and the obligations of media; issues of press freedom and the limits to free speech; media and elections; media and public policy; the Internet and political participation; reporting in the digital age; media in an international context and the relationship between the media and social movements. This course discusses the role assumed by the media in both long-established democratic societies and in new and emerging democracies.


5 hours of lectures, 5 hours of seminars and 15 hours of workshops in the MT.

The workshops refer to 5 student-led classes of 3 hours of in the MT centred around student presentations.

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

  • Cammaerts, B., Matoni, A. and McCurdy, P. (eds) (2013) Mediation and Protest Movements. Bristol: Intellect, 2013.
  • Chadwick, A. (2013) The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Esser, F. and Strömbäck, J. (eds) (2014) Mediatization of Politics: Understanding the Transformation of Western Democracies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Hallin, D. C., and Mancini, P. (2004). Comparing media systems: Three models of media and politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hallin, D. C., and Mancini, P. (eds) (2012) Comparing Media Systems Beyond the Western World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Held, D. (2006) Models of Democracy, Cambridge: Polity.
  • Negrine, R. (2008) The Transformation of Political Communication. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Scammell, M. (2014) Consumer democracy: the marketing of politics. Communication, society and politics. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
  • Semetko, H. and Scammell, M. (eds) (2012) The SAGE handbook of political communication. London. SAGE,
  • Voltmer K. (2013) The Media in Transitional Democracies. Contemporary Political Communication. Cambridge: Polity.


Essay (90%, 3000 words) in the LT.
Presentation (10%) in the MT.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 26.5
Merit 51
Pass 19.6
Fail 2.9

Teachers' comment

This course examines the relationship between democracy and the media from a variety of angles addressing democratic theory, freedom of speech, elections, social movements, media power and emerging democracies.

Students' comments 

"It is helpful to go into depths of these issues. It is also great to communicate in such a pluralistic class with different identities and listen to everyone's views."

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2015/16: 38

Average class size 2015/16: 24

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
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills