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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

COMM1950 Power, Politics and the Media

20 creditsClass Size: 59

Module manager: Dr Matthias Reves

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as a discovery module


In this module, students should
- gain an understanding of the central role that the media play in the relationship between citizens and the state;
- gain an understanding of major perspectives on the role of the media in politics;
- gain insight into the role of new communications technologies in altering the relationship between the citizen, the media and the state.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students should be able to:
1. Discuss political communication as a communications system, identifying key institutions and describing their interactions.
2. Critically evaluate key theoretical perspectives on the role of the media in politics
3. Apply key theories of political communication to the analysis of media texts.
4. Plan and execute a small research project as a member of a team
5. Communicate research findings in a range of styles

Skills outcomes
Students will be given the opportunity to develop skills in
- application of theoretical propositions to empirical materials;
- presentation of complex information;
- team working.


What are the factors that shape the way media presents politics? How do we understand the responsibilities of citizens, media professionals and politicians in the communications process? This module provides an introduction to political communications as part of life in contemporary Britain. Anxieties continue over the power of those who control the media to shape ideas and debates, and the tendency of the public to be distracted from the reality of issues by flashy presentation. Despite these fears, communication is seen to be essential to the conduct of democratic politics. The first part of the module approaches the contemporary situation through 'the triangle' of politicians, public and media. We review the roles of each of these actors in turn and look at the relationship between them. We pay particular attention to the nature of election campaigns before broadening the focus to look at the communication issues raised by protest movements and the role of ‘entertaining politics’. The final section of the course addresses the extent to which digital technologies are changing or even eroding the triangle. We bring all of these themes together by looking back at recent election campaigns and other significant political events.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours170.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Group research project: 50 hours
Preparation of individual report: 30 hours
Essay preparation: 40 hours
Lecture preparation: 10 hours
Seminar preparation: 40 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

This takes place through:
1) the mid semester submission of the first essay;
2) through participation in seminars; and
3) through tutor monitoring of research group progress.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2,000 - 2,500 words40.00
Report1 x 1,500 - 1,800 word individual report40.00
Poster PresentationThe production of 1 Powerpoint poster advertising their findings20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

In case that a group fails to produce a poster or that failure in the poster element produces a fail in the overall mark the resit will take the form of a 2,000 word essay to be submitted in August.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 04/05/2018


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