Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PIED2161 Media and Democracy

20 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Eike Mark Rinke

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Module replaces

PIED2160 Spin Doctors

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Today, the idea that we live in a "media democracy" is a truism, regularly bandied about by journalists, politicians, political consultants and scholars. It is equally common to blame "the media" for a number of problems in democratic life. But what makes media-mediated political communication relevant or even important for democratic politics in the first place? This fundamental question has normative as well as empirical aspects to it. These will be addressed in this module.In the first part of the course, we will gain an idea of the key analytical frameworks that have been used to understand the role of the media in democracy. After elaborating what democratic media should look like according to various normative theories, the module will explore the actual role of different media and media genres in democratic politics as well as some of the most important contemporary debates in this area, including debates about disinformation/fake news, political polarisation, populism and democratic backsliding, and the role of media for citizen protest. Students will gain a good understanding of how media communication can shape democratic life, the extent to which different media have done so in the past and in different social contexts, and in which respects media systems are subject to a need for democratic reform.


The module aims to:

- introduce students to key concepts and theories for the study of media and democracy today;

- challenge students to think critically about the role different media forms play in shaping democratic processes and structures;

- enable students to critically analyse a range of different case studies of mediated forms of democratic politics;

- equip students with in-depth insights into the most important current debates around the intersection of media and democracy;

- 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 mastery of key concepts and theories of media in contemporary politics;

2. Demonstrate understanding of the role of different media and media genres in democratic politics;

3. Demonstrate familiarity with key contemporary debates around the role of media in democratic politics;

4. Demonstrate knowledge of state-of-the-art approaches to analysing the role of media in democratic politics;

5. Identify key academic sources of reliable evidence about political communication, media and democracy (journals, books, data sources etc.);

6. Engage in independent critical analysis of how modern media technology impacts on democratic politics.


As a highly topical module, the precise content will vary from year to year depending on real-world developments in the area of media and democracy. However, every year the syllabus will contain:

1) an introduction to a range of different concepts and frameworks used to study media and democratic politics;

2) an analysis of the roles and contributions of different media and media genres in democratic systems;

3) key contemporary debates about the role of media for democratic life.

Within these broad parameters, syllabus topics may include: Historical frameworks for understanding the development of political communication until today; comparative frameworks for understanding cross-national differences in media and democracy; normative frameworks for understanding the role of media in democracy; the role of journalism for democratic politics; the role of different media genres (talk shows, news shows, satire, blogs) for democratic politics; the role of power in media and democracy; key debates: post-truth, public sphere, democracy (disinformation, fake news, strategic lying, social bots); media economics and democracy (crisis of journalism); media and political polarisation (selective exposure, filter bubbles, echo chambers); the internet and globalisation of political communication; media and democratic backsliding (populism, xenophobia); democratic consequences of data-driven campaigning; citizens and political communication (media effects, political participation/civic engagement).

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students are required to read the core items on 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 (eg, Week 7) up to 1000 words of work for formative feedback. This could be a plan of their essay, or a full draft of up to 33% of their essay. They will have the opportunity to use feedback received on the formative piece to maximise their chances of doing well in the final, summative assessment.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Assignment1 x 3000 Word 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: 28/04/2023 14:51:18


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019