Political Communication - PO868

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 6)
Autumn 7 20 (10) DR A Azmanova checkmark-circle


Students are introduced to the logic and logistics of political communication, with a focus on rhetoric and techniques of persuasion such as framing and spin control.


This module appears in the following module collections.


Autumn Term

Method of assessment

1. Speech delivered in class, positioned within a Communication Plan 30%
2. Analysis of the speech (as a case study) 20 %
3. Final paper (approx 3500 words) 50 %

Indicative reading

Perloff, Richard. The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century. 4th Edition, Routledge, 2010.

Richard Heller, High Impact Speeches: How to Write and Deliver Words That Move Minds. Prentice Hall, 2002

Esser, Frank and Barbara Pfetsch (eds.), Comparing Political Communication: Theories, Cases, Challenges, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2004.

Graber, Doris A. (ed.): Media Power in Politics. 5th edition, Washington, DC: CQ Press 2007.

McNair Brian, An Introduction to Political Communication, Routledge, London, 1995.

Van Ruler, B. S. Vercic (eds.), Public Relations and Communication Management in Europe: A Nation by Nation Introduction, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 2004.

Vangelisti, Anita, John A Daly, Gustav W Friedrich (eds.), Teaching Communication: Theory, Research, and Methods, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum 1999.

Wolfsfeld, Gadi, Philippe Maarek (eds.), Political Communication in a New Era: A Cross National Perspective, London: Routledge 2003.

Carver, Terell & Jernej Pikalo. Political Language and Metaphor: Interpreting and Changing the World. London: Routledge, 2008.

Cockcroft, Robert & Susan M. Cockcroft. Persuading People: An Introduction to Rhetoric. Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Carver, Terell & Jernej Pikalo. Political Language and Metaphor: Interpreting and Changing the World. London: Routledge, 2008.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes and, as appropriate, their relationship to programme learning outcomes
SSLO 1-6. On successful completion of the module, students will:
1: understand the nature of political communication and its centrality in the management of modern politics;
2: understand and evaluate the relative merits of key theoretical approaches to political communication, including the opportunities and limitations of each approach;
3: become familiar with techniques of political rhetoric; be able to analyse the communication tools used by politicians, lobbyists, and other politically oriented actors; evaluate the ethics of key practices of political communication.
4: understand the nature of political ideologies, propaganda, and the use of spin control in disseminating a political message; understand the debates on free democratic speech in terms of its ethical and normative content;
5: understand the role of different forms of media in the shaping of the public agenda and how new technologies have affected the communication strategies most commonly used in politics.
6: apply theoretical perspectives to the analysis of case studies.

By helping students to progress towards these subject-specific outcomes, the module contributes to achieving the following Programme Learning Outcomes (PLO) of the MA in Political Strategy and Communication:
PLO A.1: knowledge and understanding of key historical and philosophical issues in the development of European policy, together with familiarity with appropriate bibliographical sources (SLO 12: 2,5);
PLO A.6. Understanding the main legal, economic, and political parameters of communication and advocacy in the EU and in global politics (SLO 12: 1-5);
PLO C. 1. understand the different theoretical perspectives on the formulation and implementation of political and communication strategies; understand the varied nature of communications and the context-dependent nature of strategic choices for communicating political and social issues; and understand the rhetorical constructions of issues as they relate to the analysis and practice of advocacy and lobbying (SLO 12: 1-5);
PLO C.4. describe, evaluate and apply different approaches to collecting, analysing and presenting social and technical information (SLO 12:6);

The intended generic learning outcomes and, as appropriate, their relationship to programme learning outcomes
Students who successfully complete this module:
1: will be able to work with theoretical knowledge and apply theory to practical issues and will have a level of conceptual understanding that will allow them to critically evaluate research, policies, and practices;
2: will be aware of the ethical dimensions of the scholarly work done in their discipline in general as well as in their own work;
3: will be able to undertake analysis of complex, incomplete or contradictory areas of knowledge and make carefully constructed arguments;
4: will be reflective and self-critical in their work and will have independent learning ability required for further study or professional work;
5: will be able to use the internet, bibliographic search engines, online resources, and effectively conduct research
6: will be able to engage in academic and professional communication with others.

By helping students to progress towards these generic learning outcomes, the module contributes to achieving the following Programme Learning Outcomes (PLO) of the M.A. in Political Strategy and Communication:
PLO A.2. Understanding of how to apply general theoretical and conceptual frameworks to the analysis of specific issues and problems in domestic, regional, and international settings; (GLO 13: 1)
PLO A.3. Utilise qualitative and quantitative research methods and evaluate critically their application in the scholarly literature and in policy papers (GLO 13: 1,5)
PLO A.5. Capacity for carrying out an independent research project and write in a scholarly manner demonstrating familiarity with academic conventions (GLO 13: 1,3, 4,5)
PLO B.1. general research skills, especially bibliographic and computing skills (GLO 13: 3,4,5)
PLO B.2. gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources (GLO 13: 5)
PLO B.3. identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems (GLO 13: 3)
PLO B.4. develop reasoned arguments, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement (GLO 13: 1-3)
PLO B.5. reflect on, and manage, their own learning and seek to make use of constructive feedback from peers and staff to enhance their performance and personal skills (GLO 13: 4,6)
PLO B.6. manage their own learning self-critically (GLO 13: 4)
PLO C.2. apply concepts, theories and methods used in the policy arena to contemporary issues and problems (GLO 13:1-5)
PLO D.1. Communication: communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing; organise information clearly and coherently; use communication and information technology for the retrieval and presentation of information, including, where appropriate, statistical or numerical information (GLO 13: 5,6)
PLO D.2. Information technology: produce written documents; undertake online research; communicate using e-mail; process information using databases (GLO 13: 3,5)
PLO D.3. Working with others: define and review the work of others; work co-operatively on group tasks; understand how groups function; collaborate with others and contribute effectively to the achievement of common goals (GLO 13: 6)
PLO D.4. Improving own learning: explore personal strengths and weaknesses; time management; review working environment (especially student-staff relationship); develop autonomy in learning; work independently, demonstrating initiative and self-organisation. Important research management skills include the setting of appropriate timescales for different stages of the research with clear starting and finishing dates (through a dissertation); presentation of a clear statement of the purposes and expected results of the research; and developing appropriate means of estimating and monitoring resources and use of time (GLO 13: 4)
PLO D.5. Problem solving: identify and define problems; explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them. (GLO 13: 1,3)
PLO D.6. Personal career development: students are encouraged to manage their own career progression and development proactively and are supported in developing skills in researching and retrieving information on opportunities for employment and continuing personal and career development. (GLO 13: 4)


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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