MC404      Half Unit
Political Communication in Democracies

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Nick Anstead


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

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.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Michaelmas Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online lectures and in-person classes/classes delivered online. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of term.

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. 2019. Political Communication: A New Introduction for Crisis Times. London: John Wiley & Sons.
  • 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.
  • Wring, D., Mortimore, R., & Atkinson, S. 2018. Political Communication in Britain. London: Springer.


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

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 22.8
Merit 55.6
Pass 21.2
Fail 0.5

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!"

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2020/21: 60

Average class size 2020/21: 15

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication