MC404      Half Unit
Political Communication in Democracies

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Dylan Mulvin PEL.7.01C


This course is available on the MSc in Politics and Communication. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Please note that places are very limited. In order to accommodate academic staff research leave and sabbaticals, and in order to maintain smaller seminar group sizes, this course is capped. This means 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 places on the course. 

Course content

The aim of the course is to examine the relationship between the media and political processes in comparative perspective. It offers a critical review of key aspects of contemporary theory and research in political communications, examining a range of interconnected issues concerning the relationship between politics and media including: the political influence of the media; public opinion; election and referendum campaigning; political marketing and branding; political reporting; media and public knowledge; and public diplomacy.


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. L. & Segerberg, A. 2012. The Logic of Connective Action: Digital Media and the Personalization of Contenious Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

• Chadwick, A. 2013. The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

• Coleman, S. & Blumler, J. G. 2009. The Internet and democratic citizenship : theory, practice and policy. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press.

• Davis, A. 2010. Political communication and social theory. London ; New York: Routledge.

• 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, M. and Semetko, Holli A. 2012. The SAGE Handbook of Political Communication. London: Sage.

• Scammell, M. 2014. Consumer Democracy: The Marketing of Politics. New York, NY USA: Cambridge University Press.

• Stromer-Galley, J. 2014. Presidential campaigning in the Internet age. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

• Willnat, L, and Annette A (Eds) 2009. Political communication in Asia. London ; New York: Routledge.


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

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 19.4
Merit 51.2
Pass 28.4
Fail 1

Teachers' comment

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

Students' comments

"The lectures are some of the most stimulating and interesting I've had in my education. Fantastic teaching"

"The student-led seminars were great... [I] enjoyed leading on one myself!"

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2018/19: 64

Average class size 2018/19: 16

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication