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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PIED5736M Politics, Media and Democratic Engagement

30 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Dr Eike Rinke

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Politics has always been shaped by a variety of media forms, but there is a growing consensus that the current media landscape is ever more varied as new media platforms emerge alongside, and in some cases to challenge, traditional print and broadcast media. These developments, in turn, have contradictory implications for democratic politics. The aim of this module is to explore these contradictions in more detail, and to equip students with the skills necessary to critically analyse a wide variety of mediated forms of politics. In so doing, it will pose questions such as: what is the role of mainstream media in times of democratic transition? Are citizens empowered by new modes of digital communication? How are parliaments responding to the digital public? How has the rise of “citizen journalism” impacted upon the practice of democratic politics? To what extent is traditional media’s political importance in decline? How do authoritarian regimes respond to the challenges of new media? Does “fake news” augur a crisis in the advanced democracies? And how should we understand the role of new media in the rise of phenomena such as populism, the alt-right, and radical grassroots movements? This module tackles these kinds of questions by introducing students to a range of different concepts and approaches to the study of media and democratic politics as well as exploring case studies of mediated democratic politics.


The module aims to:
- Introduce students to a range of concepts and approaches to the study of media and democracy
- Challenge students to think critically about the role different media forms play in shaping democratic systems and citizen engagement
- Enable students to critically analyse a range of different case studies of mediated forms of democratic politics.
- Equip students with the tools to evaluate the risks and opportunities that different media forms pose to the health of democratic societies.
Encourage students to develop their written communication and critical reasoning skills.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module students should have provided evidence of being able to:
1. Demonstrate in-depth specialist knowledge of theories and methods for the analysis of different forms of mediated politics.
2. Exhibit mastery in key methods, theories and approaches within the analysis of media and politics.
3. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of analytical techniques applicable to media and democratic politics.
4. Apply knowledge of these analytical techniques to specific case studies
5. Critically and creatively evaluate current issues and research related to media and democratic politics


The precise content of the syllabus will vary form year to year depending on staff availability. However, every year the syllabus will contain: 1) an introduction to a range of different concepts and approaches to the study of media and democratic politics, 2) an analysis of the political character and impact of different forms of traditional and new media 3) case studies of mediated democratic politics in different national contexts. Within these broad parameters, syllabus topics may include:
The political role of the mainstream media in consolidated democracies; The political role of mainstream media in times of democratic transition; The rise of social media: are citizens empowered by new modes of digital communication?; Citizen engagement: how are parliaments responding to the digital public?; Citizen journalism; Political parties and new media; Elections and the media: who sets the agenda?; E-petitions and mediated direct democracy; Mediated populism and the rise of new political actors; The Management of social media in authoritarian regimes; Street protests and new media; Social Movements in the Age of Social Media; The Alt-right and the politics of Toxic Technocultures.

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 hours278.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Students are required to read the core items listed in the module reading list in preparation for seminar discussions and essays. This requires careful and reflective reading, note taking, summarising, and preparation for class discussion. Also, students are encouraged to use their initiative and skills of discernment in finding additional relevant material.

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 essay, or a full draft of up to 50% of their essay. 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

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 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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