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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PIED5738M Technology, Media and Politics: Research and Real World Cases

30 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr Gillian Bolsover
Email: g.bolsover@leeds.ac.uk

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Research in Technology, Media and Politics provides students with the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge methodologies that they can use to evaluate and produce research in this interdisciplinary area that has been taking up increasing space in public discourse in recent years, as political life has moved into individualised, commercialised social media spaces that are leveraged by both companies and political groups for their own personal gain. Students will become familiar with various methods of analysing political issues in the modern media environment, in order to access mediated political discourse and understand how social and political issues are discussed and negotiated by journalists, citizens, politicians, and interest groups. The first half of the module will consider key recent case studies in technology, media and politics, and discuss research produced concerning these events. Case studies will vary based topicality and staff research area but might include topics such as the US 2016 Presidential Election, the Chinese social credit system, Russian involvement in Ukrainian politics, WikiLeaks, and e-petitions and the use of block-chain for vote verification. The second half of the module will delve deeper into specific forms of research that are used to investigate technology, media and politics. Again, specific methods investigated will vary based on staff availability but might include methods such as collecting data from social media, topic modelling, supervised machine learning, sentiment analysis, natural language processing, network analysis, and information visualisation. Students will receive basic training in the Python programming language necessary to undertake this type of research and have an opportunity to experiment with programming in guided workshop exercises. No prior experience in programming is necessary and no aspects of programming will be assessed. Through this module, students will learn the necessary tools to critically assess and discuss the impact of technology and media in political events and evaluate and produce research related to these events.

Objectives

This module aims to:
- Introduce students to a range of concepts and approaches related to the study of technology, media and politics, through engagement with recent case studies
- Endow students with a theoretical and technical understanding of a variety of methods and tools that can be applied to the study of technology, media and politics, and the ability to critically assess research produced using these methodologies
- Foster in students an ability to understand the process, technical requirements and limitations of cutting-edge research methods for the study of technology, media and politics
- Instil in students an appreciation of the ethical, legal, social and technical issues related to researching technology, media and politics, and to the fields of big data, data analytics and computational social science more generally

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module students should have provided evidence of being able to:
1. Critically assess cutting-edge research and current developments in the area of technology, media and politics
2. Implement minor adjustments in pre-written Python codes to tailor existing data analytic processes to a specific, desired task
3. Articulate a specific research topic in the area of technology, media and politics
4. Evaluate potential methodological approaches for researching this topic, including associated ethical, legal, social and technical issues
5. Describe how data would be collected, presented and evaluated as part of an investigation of this topic and what the limitations of specific approaches would be


Syllabus

The precise nature of the syllabus will vary depending on recent events and trends in the area; staff availability to teach technical methods; and the competencies and interests of students. Each year the syllabus will contain: (1) an introduction to a broad range of methods for researching technology, media and politics, (2) discussions of key political events, recent case studies and original research in this area, and (3) grounding in ethical, legal and social issues related to digital research methods.
Students will receive in-depth introductions to at least three recent case studies in technology, media and politics and academic research related to these case studies and at least four digital social research methods, that can be applied to the study of technology, media and politics. Due to the cutting-edge and technical nature of the specific methods covered, it is necessary that they are taught by staff members with specialist competencies and will thus vary year on depending of staff availability and the methods that are best equipped to analyse the contemporary political issues that students will want to study.
Representative case studies might include: online opinion manipulation in the US 2016 Presidential Election, the Chinese social credit system, Russian involvement in Ukrainian politics, WikiLeaks, and e-petitions and the use of block-chain for vote verification.
Representative methods might include: collecting data from social media, topic modelling, supervised machine learning, sentiment analysis, natural language processing, network analysis, and information visualisation.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Workshop112.0022.00
Lecture111.0011.00
Independent online learning hours88.00
Private study hours179.00
Total Contact hours33.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Private Study: Students are required to read the core items listed in the module reading list in preparation for discussions and essays. This requires careful and reflective reading, note taking, summarising, and preparation for class discussion.
Independent Online Learning: Students will also be expected to continue to experiment with the coding assignments undertaken during structured workshop sessions.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

There will be a substantial formative feedback element to the module. Students will be given the opportunity to submit at a specified point (likely week 7) up to 2000 words of work for formative feedback. This could be a plan of their research proposal, or a full draft of up to 50% of their research proposal. They will then have the opportunity to use feedback received on the formative piece to maximise their chances of doing well in the final, summative piece

Methods of assessment


Coursework
Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Research Proposal1 x 4000 End of term essay100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019

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