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Political Strategy and Communication - MA

2018

An MA in Political Strategy and Communication engages students in the practical issues of political delivery. The areas of political communication, political leadership, strategy, crisis management, political branding, and public relations are all the leading vocational aspects of a developed academic understanding of politics and international relations, and it is an area of growing importance that distinguishes BSIS graduates as policy-relevant, engaged thinkers in the political arena.

2018

Overview

Politics is not merely about power. Sophisticated politics involves communication, strategy and manipulation of the political agenda. Whether it be a political leader motivating people to follow, a government seeking allies for a policy in the international arena, a campaigner mobilizing supporters, or a high-priced corporate lobbyist explaining a client’s policy to legislators, all political ideas ultimately depend on them being communicated to an intended audience, with precision, efficiency and above all credibility.

What are the appropriate forms of communication for a politician? What forms of ‘spin’ can work, and which do journalists see through? What are effective ways of framing a client’s perspective for government officials, and what are the entry points in the decision-making cycle that makes their communication strategy most effective?

Brussels has emerged as the largest centre for international media, measured in the number of foreign correspondents, which has now exceeded the number in Washington DC. Brussels is also home to thousands of political lobbyists, engaged either as public relations specialists, political strategists, or corporate communications advisors. A recent study of graduates from BSIS who stay in Brussels shows that political communication is among their primary career destination.

Flexible study

We are committed to offering flexible study options at BSIS and enable you to tailor your degree to meet your needs. This programme is available with start dates in September and January; full- and part-time study options; split-site options, and students can combine two fields of study leading to a degree that reflects both disciplines.

For more information on study options, see the course structure tab.

About the Brussels School of International Studies

The University of Kent's Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) is a specialist postgraduate centre offering advanced English language-based degrees covering the spectrum of international affairs. We host three academic schools of the University of Kent which allows students to specialise in one programme while informing their personal approach to international studies with another, via a secondary specialisation.

The broad selection of taught and research programmes available, ranging from politics and international relations to law, migration and conflict studies, means you can choose a degree that best reflects your interests. Degrees are full degrees of the University of Kent, and the University is also recognised by the Flemish Community in Belgium (NVAO) and Flemish Government. The University of Kent is the only UK university with a campus in Brussels.

BSIS is known as a friendly, diverse, and cohesive community of approximately 250 students from about 55 different countries. Students benefit from close access to professors, a research-active environment, and exposure to practitioners from Brussels-based organisations.

Home to the main institutions of the European Union and numerous organisations, such as think tanks, lobby groups, NGOs and multinational companies, Brussels is at the heart of Europe. You can earn a degree from a top 20 British university while enjoying unparalleled opportunities for networking, academic development and professional advancement facilitated by the School's excellent location in the 'capital of Europe'.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Politics and International Relations was ranked 15th for research power and in the top 20 in the UK for research impact.

An impressive 96% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of research of international excellence.

Course structure

We are committed to offering flexible study options at the School and enable you to tailor your degree to meet your needs by offering start dates in September and January; full- and part-time study; split-site options, and allowing students to combine two fields of study leading to a degree that reflects both disciplines.

Standard and extended versions 

The MA is offered in both a standard version (90 ECTS credits) and an extended version (120 ECTS credits) and in each case students may take the programme with or without a secondary specialisation. Those on the extended version take more modules to gain extra credit.

To be awarded the standard MA (90 ECTS), you must take three modules from the list for Political Strategy and Communication and a further three modules from the full list of modules offered at BSIS. For the extended MA (120 ECTS), you must take four modules from the list for Political Strategy and Communication and a further five modules from the full list of modules offered at BSIS.

Modules

Modules for Political Strategy and Communication

The following modules are offered to our current students on the MA Political Strategy and Communication programme. At BSIS, you have a wide range of optional modules to choose from and this can be within your chosen degree, or as part of a secondary specialisation (for more information on specialisations, please see below.) This list of modules is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation:

PO868 Political Communication*

PO903 Political Strategy*

PO848 Negotiation and Mediation

PO924 Foreign Policy Analysis

LW901 International Diplomatic Law

Modules marked with * are compulsory.

Students may not be registered on more than 3 modules per term (full-time) or 1 or 2 modules (part-time) and each module will run in either Autumn or Spring. 

On this programme you may not take more than three law modules (standard) or four law modules (extended).

Specialisations

The MA in Political Strategy and Communication allows you to choose secondary areas of specialisation from the range of programmes offered at BSIS. This leads to the award of an MA degree in, for example, 'Political Strategy and Communication with Human Rights Law'.

To include a secondary area of focus on the standard programme, you must choose three modules from the list for MA Political Strategy and Communication, two modules from one of the programmes listed below (your secondary area of study) and one module from the full list of modules offered at BSIS.

For the extended programme, you must choose four modules from the list for MA Political Strategy and Communication, three modules from one of the programmes listed below (your secondary area of study) and two modules from the full list of modules offered at BSIS.

On both the standard and extended programme, you must also submit a dissertation on a topic in Political Strategy and Communication and complete the methodology module Fundamentals, Dissertation and Research.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • provide you with a research-active teaching environment which provides a good grounding in the study of  social science in general, in political strategy, and in the communication of political positions in particular
  • offer you a critical perspective of the interplay between international relations and European politics as they relate to the process of creating a strategy for dealing with political issues, and communicating effectively the issues and positions on the basis of that strategy, in order to influence outcomes at the European and national levels
  • ensure that you acquire a solid understanding of methodologies for the study of social science in general, and in the application of those understandings to the study of political strategy in particular
  • ensure that you acquire a solid understanding of major theoretical approaches to policymaking and policy analysis, the historical development of the contemporary European policy landscape, and the application of theoretical and historical knowledge to the analysis and understanding of contemporary issues and cases in the field, with particular emphasis on the manner in which policies, positions, perspectives, and attitudes are communicated
  • ensure that you acquire the necessary skills for an advanced assessment of contemporary problems in European politics, society, and economy, and their solutions
  • develop your general research skills and personal skills (transferable skills).

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the main legal, economic, and political parameters of communication and advocacy in the EU and in global politics
  • key historical and theoretical issues in the development of European policy, together with familiarity with appropriate bibliographical sources
  • how to apply general theoretical and conceptual frameworks to the analysis of specific issues and problems in domestic, regional, and international settings
  • how to utilise qualitative and quantitative research methods and evaluate critically their application in the scholarly literature and in policy papers
  • how to design and conduct a research project demonstrating awareness of epistemological and methodological principles appropriate to the subject of that research project
  • how to design and write a substantial scholarly paper demonstrating familiarity with academic and professional conventions.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • general research skills, especially bibliographic and computing skills
  • the ability to gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources
  • the ability to identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems
  • the ability to develop reasoned arguments, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement
  • the ability to reflect on, and manage, your own learning and seek to make use of constructive feedback from your peers and staff to enhance your performance and personal skills
  • managing your own learning self-critically.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • an advanced understanding of the different theoretical perspectives on the formulation and implementation of political and communication strategies
  • an advanced understanding of the varied nature of communications and the context-dependent nature of strategic choices for communicating political and social issues
  • an advanced understanding of  the rhetorical constructions of issues as they relate to the analysis and practice of advocacy and lobbying
  • the ability to apply concepts, theories and methods used in the policy arena to contemporary issues and problems
  • the ability to evaluate the inter-relationships between the literatures and methodologies of public policy, politics, and international relations and related disciplines, such as law, political theory, economics, sociology and history as they relate to political communication and lobbying
  • the ability to describe, evaluate and apply different approaches to collecting, analysing and presenting social and technical information.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • communication: the ability to communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing (including, where appropriate, the use of IT), organise information clearly and coherently, use communication and information technology for the retrieval and presentation of information, including, where appropriate, statistical or numerical information
  • information technology: produce written documents, undertake online research, communicate using email, process information using databases
  • 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
  • improving your own learning: explore your strengths and weaknesses, time-management skills, review your working environment (especially the student-staff relationship), develop autonomy in learning, work independently, demonstrate 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
  • problem-solving: identify and define problems, explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them
  • personal career development:  you are encouraged to manage your 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.

Careers

For many students, coming to Brussels is a great opportunity to seek out internship and job opportunities. There is a wealth of opportunities in the city to gain valuable work experience in the institutions, organisations and companies in Brussels which could potentially lead to a career post graduation. 

At the Brussels School of International Studies, students have access to the services of Key2advance, a dedicated careers service that provides students with assistance in developing skills and accessing the international job market. The weekly career workshops cover all aspects of the job market starting with rewriting your CV and cover letters to learning networking skills. This leads to a networking event during the Autumn Term that allows students to meet and network with employers and alumni.

The University of Kent has its own excellent network in the city which has developed over the last 20 years. These networks enable students to take up internships with some key players in the Brussels job market such as NGOs, charities, public relation firms, think tanks, lobbying companies and the international institutions.  Students will find there are many opportunities for an internship during their time at BSIS and In addition, our students and alumni comprise a tightly-knit network through which internship opportunities pass frequently.

Recent examples of internships are with the Red Cross, Norwegian Refugee Council, Weber Shandwick, Coca cola, International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, Transatlantic Business Council (among many others). 

Kent has an excellent record for postgraduate employment: of Kent graduate students who graduated in 2016, 98% of those who responded to a national survey were in work or further study within six months (DLHE).

Study support

Postgraduate resources

Students have access to excellent e-library facilities online via the Templeman library in Canterbury; inter-library loans within Belgium; 50,000 online journals are also available off-campus. Students also have outstanding access to libraries in Brussels, such as at our partner universities Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Université Libre de Bruxelles, the Royal Library of Belgium, among others. The School’s resources include a dedicated selection of more than 1,000 key texbooks on the subject of international affairs and law. In addition, postgraduate research students have their own designated room with computer terminals and access to wi-fi in all areas at the Brussels centre.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. The Brussels School produces its own journal, The Brussels Journal of International Studies, which was founded in 2003. Details of recently published books can be found within the staff research interests section.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

Students should hold a bachelor degree for entry to this Master's degree.

We accept a wide range of subjects for entry and you do not need to have necessarily studied Political Science or law previously. Typical first degrees of our students include Economics, History, Classics, Languages, Philosophy, Geography & Psychology (among others).

The standard of the degree will normally be at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree from countries such as the UK, Ghana, Nigeria or Kenya, or a minimum Grade Point Average of 3.0 under the American system from an accredited institution or equivalent. We do review candidates application on a case by case basis and extensive work experience may compensate for a slightly lower degree result.

We accept a wide range of qualifications and you can find the general entry requirements for some countries on the University’s main website. If your country is not listed or you need further clarification, please contact the School directly at ukbapplications@kent.ac.uk.

Students can apply before completion of the bachelor degree and if successful in obtaining a place, you would be made a conditional offer. 

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Our research interests span a broad spectrum of the discipline, with particular strengths in the fields of conflict analysis and resolution, political theory and European politics. The strength of the School’s research culture is reflected in the numerous books and articles published and in the existence of its three core research groups: Conflict, Security and Human Rights; Comparative Politics; and Political and Social Thought.

Global Europe Centre (GEC)

The Global Europe Centre is a pioneering research-led learning centre focusing on the study of Europe and its relations with the outside world. The GEC’s research focus is on contemporary policy challenges to Europe and its nation states, the engagement with policy-makers and policy-shapers is at the core of its activities. The GEC mission is to promote excellence, through innovative research and knowledge exchange and to facilitate research-driven impact through its learning and teaching activities. The GEC’s activities include dissemination of policy-relevant research via publications, research-led knowledge transfer workshops, conferences and public lectures, and keynote addresses by leading public figures.

The Centre has a strong commitment to the creation of the next generation of ideas innovators and policymakers and pursues these through its learning, teaching and knowledge exchange activities and via the Global Europe Student Forum. GEC is an interdisciplinary research centre aiming to develop synergies across Politics and International Relations, Economics, Law, Business, History, and European Languages and Culture.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Albena Azmanova: Reader in International Relations

Political traditions and democratisation; globalisation and political identities; European integration.

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Dr Tom Casier: Senior Lecturer in International Relations

EU as an international actor; EU-Russian relations; Russian foreign policy.

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Professor Richard G Whitman: Professor of Politics

European studies; international relations; international role of the European Union.

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Dr Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels: Senior Lecturer in Migration and Politics

Dr. Klekowski von Koppenfels' current research interests focus on the concept of diaspora and transnational engagement of migrants, in particular with respect to Global North migrants, although she remains interested in the phenomena more broadly.

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Dr Yvan Guichaoua: Lecturer in international Conflict Analysis (Brussels)

The dynamics of insurgency formation; rebel governance and state responses in Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger since 2004.

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Dr Bojan Savic: Lecturer in International Relations (Brussels)

Game theory; qualitative and quantitative research strategies in relation to conflict and development.

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Fees

The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Political Strategy and Communication 90 ECTS - MA at Brussels:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time €17960 €17960
Part-time €8980 €8980
Political Strategy and Communication 120 ECTS - MA at Brussels:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time €25560 €25560
Part-time €12780 €12780

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both: