Political Communication - POLI8680

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Autumn Term 7 20 (10) Albena Azmanova checkmark-circle


Political communication is all that happens when people interact in a political context -- that is, when the 'rules of the game' of collective life are being challenged and settled; political communication takes place even if that interaction is done badly and in poor taste, including when actors ‘mis-communicate’, or don’t say a word. Most commonly, the term describes the interplay among political actors as well as between political actors and publics. Whatever forms it takes -- oral, visual, or written – it engages a process of affective as well as cognitive mobilisation of ideas, feelings as well as facts, meant not simply to inform, but above all -- to persuade. Political Communication as an academic field of study has a double commitment. First – to introduce to students the tools typically engaged in political communication as an activity (rhetorical devises, forms of framing, agenda-setting, political marketing techniques, crafting of communication strategies); second – to develop skills in the analysis of the process and outcomes of political communication (content analysis, discourse analysis). And this is what this module will do, as long as the students take ownership of that process of learning and plunge with hearts and minds into the ambition to communicate better and to understand communication better.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 24
Private study hours: 176
Total study hours: 200


MA Political Strategy and Communication

Method of assessment

Draft Communication Plan (20%)
Case study (30%)
Essay, 3500 words (50%)

Reassessment methods: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Reading list (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)

* Azmanova, A. 2012. The Scandal of Reason: A Critical Theory of Political Judgment. Columbia University Press, 2012

* Keith, W. and Lundberg, Ch. (2008), The Essential Guide to Rhetoric. Bedford/St Martins Publishers

* Lilleker, Darren G. ( 2007) Key Concepts in Political Communication, Sage Publications

* McNair, Brian (2011), 5th Edition, An Introduction to Political Communication, Routledge

* Wodak and Meyer (2013). Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis, Sage, 2nd Edition.

* Wodak, Ruth. 2013. Right-wing populism in Europe politics and discourse (London : Bloomsbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

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.

The intended generic learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. 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. be aware of the ethical dimensions of the scholarly work done in their discipline in general as well as in their own work;

3. undertake analysis of complex, incomplete or contradictory areas of knowledge and make carefully constructed arguments;

4. be reflective and self-critical in their work and will have independent learning ability required for further study or professional work;

5. use the internet, bibliographic search engines, online resources, and effectively conduct research

6. engage in academic and professional communication with others.


  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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