We are living through an era of tumultuous change in how politics is conducted and communicated. The great digital disruption of the early 21st century continues to work its way through media systems around the world, forcing change, adaptation, and renewal across a whole range of areas: political parties and campaigns, interest groups, social movements, activist organisations, news and journalism, the communication industries, governments, and international relations.
In the New Political Communication Unit at Royal Holloway, University of London, we believe the key to making sense of these chaotic developments is the idea of power—how it is generated, how it is used, and how it shapes the diverse information and communication flows that affect all our lives.
This unique new Masters degree, which replaces the MSc in New Political Communication, is for critically-minded, free-thinking individuals who want to engage with the exciting intellectual ferment that is being generated by these unprecedented times. The curriculum integrates rigorous study of the very best academic research with an emphasis on making sense of political communication as it is practiced in the real world, in both "old" and "new" media settings.
While not a practice-based course, the MSc Media, Power, and Public Affairs is perfect for those who wish to build a career in the growing range of professions that require deep and critical insight into the relationship between media and politics and public communication more generally. These include advocacy, campaign management, political communication consultancy, journalism, government communication, policy analysis, public opinion and semantic polling, and public diplomacy, to name but a few. Plus, due to its strong emphasis on scholarly rigour, the MSc in Media, Power, and Public Affairs is also the perfect foundation for a PhD in political communication.
You will study a mixture of core and elective units, including a generous choice of free options, and write a supervised dissertation over the summer. Teaching is conducted primarily in small group seminars that meet weekly for two hours, supplemented by individual tuition for the dissertation.
This course is also offered at Postgraduate Diploma level for those who do not have the academic background necessary to begin an advanced Masters degree. The structure of the Diploma is identical except that you will not write a dissertation. If you are successful on the Diploma you may transfer to the MSc, subject to academic approval.
See the website https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/politicsandir/coursefinder/mscpgdipmediapowerandpublicaffairs.aspx
Why choose this course?
- be taught by internationally-leading scholars in the field of political communication
- the curriculum integrates rigorous study of the very best academic research with an emphasis on making sense of political communication as it is practiced in the real world, in both "old" and "new" media settings
- perfect for those who wish to build a career in the growing range of professions that require deep and critical insight into the relationship between media and politics and public communication more generally
- a unique focus on the question of power and influence in today’s radically networked societies.
On completion of the programme, you will have:
- advanced knowledge and critical understanding of key concepts, theoretical debates, and developments in the field of political communication
- advanced knowledge of the texts, theories, and methods used to enhance understanding of the issues, processes, and phenomena in the field of political communication
- advanced knowledge and critical understanding of research methods in the social sciences
- a solid foundation for a career in the growing range of professions that require deep and critical insight into the relationship between media and politics and public communication more generally, or for a PhD in any area of media and politics.
Department research and industry highlights
- The New Political Communication Unit’s research agenda focuses on the impact of new media and communication technologies on politics, policy and governance. Core staff include Professor Andrew Chadwick, Professor Ben O’Loughlin, Dr Alister Miskimmon, and Dr Cristian Vaccari. Recent books include Andrew Chadwick’s The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power (Oxford University Press, 2013), Cristian Vaccari’s Digital Politics in Western Democracies: A Comparative Study (Johns Hopkins University Press), and Alister Miskimmon, Ben O’Loughlin, and Laura Roselle’s, Strategic Narratives: Communication Power and the New World Order (Routledge, 2013). Andrew Chadwick edits the Oxford University Press book series Oxford Studies in Digital Politics and Ben O’Loughlin is co-editor of the journal Media, War and Conflict. The Unit hosts a large number of PhD students working in the field of new political communication.
Course content and structure
You will study four core course units (chosen from a total of six options), two elective units, and write a dissertation over the summer. Course units include one of three disciplinary training pathway courses, a course in research design, analysing international politics, and specialist options in international relations.
Students studying for the Postgraduate Diploma do not undertake the dissertation.
Core course units:
Media, Power, and Public Affairs: You will examine the relationship between media, politics and power in contemporary political life. This unit focuses on a number of important foundational themes, including theories of media effects, the construction of political news, election campaigning, government communications and spin, media regulation, the emergence of digital media, the globalisation of media, agenda setting, and propaganda and the role of media in international affairs. The overarching rationale is that we live in an era in which the massive diversity of media, new technologies, and new methodologies demands new forms of analysis. The approach will be comparative and international.
Internet and New Media Politics:
Drawing predominantly, though not exclusively, upon specialist academic journal literatures, this course focuses on a number of important contemporary debates about the role and influence of new technologies on the values, processes and outcomes of: global governance institutions; public bureaucracies; journalism and news production; representative institutions including political parties and legislatures; pressure groups and social movements. It also examines persistent and controversial policy problems generated by digital media, such as privacy and surveillance, the nature of contemporary media systems, and the balance of power between older and newer media logics in social and political life. By the end of the course students will have an understanding of the key issues thrown up by the internet and new media, as well as a critical perspective on what these terms actually mean. The approach will be comparative, drawing on examples from around the world, including the developing world, but the principal focus will be on the politics of the United States and Britain.
Social Media and Politics: This course addresses the various ways in which social media are changing the relationships between politicians, citizens, and the media. The course will start by laying out broad arguments and debates about the democratic implications of social media that are ongoing not just in academic circles but also in public commentary, political circles, and policy networks—do social media expand or narrow civic engagement? Do they lead to cross-cutting relationships or self-reinforcing echo chambers? Do they hinder or promote political participation? Are they useful in campaigns or just the latest fashion? Do they foster effective direct communication between politicians and citizens? Are they best understood as technologies of freedom or as surveillance tools? These debates will be addressed throughout the course by drawing on recent empirical research published in the most highly rated academic journals in the field. The course will thus enable students to understand how social media are used by citizens, politicians, and media professionals to access, distribute, and co-produce contents that are relevant to politics and public affairs and establish opportunities for political and civic engagement.
Media, War and Conflict:
The post-9/11 global security situation and the 2003 Iraq war have prompted a marked increase in interest in questions concerning media, war and conflict. This unit examines the relationships between media, governments, military, and audiences/publics, in light of old, new, and potential future security events.
Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods in Politics and International Relations:
You will be provided with an introduction to core theories and qualitative approaches in politics and international relations. You will examine a number of explanatory/theoretical frameworks, their basic assumptions, strengths and weaknesses, and concrete research applications. You will consider the various qualitative techniques available for conducting research, the range of decisions qualitative researchers face, and the trade-offs researchers must consider when designing qualitative research.
Dissertation (MSc only): The dissertation gives you the opportunity to study an aspect of Media, Power, and Public Affairs in depth. You will be assigned a dissertation supervisor and the length of the piece will be 12,000 words.
Elective course units:
Note: not all course units are available every year, but may include:
- Politics of Democracy
- Elections and Parties
- United States Foreign Policy
- Human Rights: From Theory to Practice
- Theories and Concepts in International Public Policy
- Contemporary Anglo-American Political Theory
- Transnational Security Studies
- Conflict and Conflict Resolution in the Middle East
- The Law of Cyber Warfare
- Comparative Political Executives
- European Union Politics and Policy
- International Public Policy in Practice
- Sovereignty, Rights and Justice
- Theories of Globalisation
- Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods in Politics and International Relations
Assessment is carried out by coursework and an individually-supervised dissertation.
Employability & career opportunities
Advocacy, campaign management, political communication consultancy, journalism, government communication, policy analysis, public opinion and semantic polling, public diplomacy, PhD research.
How to apply
Applications for entry to all our full-time postgraduate degrees can be made online https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/studyhere/postgraduate/applying/howtoapply.aspx