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Communication Science: Persuasive Communication

The curriculum of the Persuasive Communication track of the Master’s programme in Communication Science comprises one year of full-time study. This includes two specialisation seminars, a thesis preparation group, a research methods course tailored to the thesis, two electives and the final Master's thesis.

Programme outline

In the Persuasive Communication track, students gain state of the art knowledge of marketing and health communication in order to develop and evaluate communication campaigns and interventions. Students learn about the role of consumers and patients in shaping communication and how to use persuasive techniques such as entertainment and personalisation. There is much attention for career orientation, for instance by case studies, guest lectures of practitioners and working with digital media tools used in the field.

Marketing Communication (Specialisation Seminar)

Here you will learn how advertisers and consumers communicate and how this influences their attitudes and behaviour. At the end of this seminar, you will be an expert in using this knowledge to develop and evaluate theory- and evidence-based campaigns and web care. 

Welten - S - C - M
Dr. Stephanie Welten

Dr. Stephanie Welten, lecturer in Marketing Communication: 

‘Within this course, you will follow tutorials in which theories and research will be discussed at an academic level. However, there is also much room to link the learned theories to practice. You will encounter 4 top experts from the advertising and media planning field, ready to share their tips and tricks with you. I – and last year’s students agree with me on this – really appreciate their talks. Next to their career advice, information about their jobs, and a Q&A session, you get a good impression what it feels like to work on real communication issues as presented in several assignments throughout the course. For example, you make a brand analysis (identifying a brand’s positioning, segmentation, benefits, competition and communication strategies), you will enter a truly challenging media planning competition in class, and you will work on a marketing communication campaign proposal, in which you will develop the communication strategy for a brand, starting with the consumer analysis until the measuring of the campaign outcomes and all steps in between. The expertise students obtain during this course is truly impressive.’ 

Health Communication (Specialisation Seminar)

Here you will learn how to empower people to adequately use and process health information and to adopt a healthy lifestyle. At the end of this seminar, you will be an expert in the development and evaluation of health communication campaigns and interventions and know how to apply these in practice.

Sam Grifffiths
Sam Griffiths

Sam Griffiths, UK, student in Health Communication: 

‘In this module we discuss in small groups a selection of papers relevant to a specific health communication topic each week, which, for example, could be how to structure a health communication intervention, how to determine effective message content or how to use different health communication strategies and media to maximize the effectiveness of your communication. I found these discussions very engaging and a fantastic, immersive way to learn and explore the literature. You are given a wonderful degree of freedom to apply what you learn in tackling real-world problems of their choosing’.

Saar Mollen
Dr. Saar Mollen

Dr. Saar Mollen, lecturer in Health Communication; 

'Changing health behaviour is certainly not an easy task, as it implies lasting changes in, often difficult to maintain, health behavior. Using different formats, such as discussions, in-class applications of theory, guest lectures by experts in intervention design, and a final meeting in which the "intervention teams" present their ideas, students are enabled to really master the science of health communication.

All in all, a great course to take, but also to teach.'


Research Methods Tailored to the Thesis

During the first semester, you will also take the course Research Methods Tailored to the Thesis course (6 ECTS), in which you’ll refresh, train and further develop your research skills before starting to write your Master’s thesis in the following semester. 


In the second semester you can personalise your Master’s by choosing two electives (6 ECTS each), allowing you to create a  programme that suits your interest best. These can be chosen from Persuasive Communication but also from one of the other tracks. Electives are for instance Media Strategies or Persuasion and ResistanceHere you can read about all the electives.

Master’s thesis

Finally, in the second semester, you will complete your Master’s thesis (18 ECTS). You will be guided and supervised in the creation, design, conduct, analysis and reporting of an academic empirical study. Previous research topics include: how playing advergames affects brand recall and brand attitudes; the effects of health warning labels on cigarette packages; the effects of addressing the behaviour of important others (social norms) in persuasive messages; overcoming resistance towards persuasive messages; how advertising influences Electronic Word of Mouth; how social network sites may influence brand attitudes; how to enhance doctor-patient communication. Several example theses of this and other tracks can be found by following the link.

Accreditation and title

Upon completion, you will receive a Master of Science (MSc.) degree. You can read more here.

Research focus

The Persuasive Communication track is a programme grounded in research ( Staff members belong to the top researchers in the field and challenge you to get the best out of yourself. The majority of lecturers in this track are members of the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR), the largest research institute of its kind in Europe and among the best worldwide. The research conducted by the faculty focuses, for instance, on the intertwining of media content and persuasion, as is the case in product placement and entertainment education, and the opportunities that new interactive media create for tailoring information. There is also much research on the interplay between interpersonal communication (e.g. Word-of-Mouth, patient-provider interaction) and media use (e.g. exposure to mass media campaigns, information seeking behavior on the internet). Related questions that are covered are for instance: How can companies stimulate consumers engagement with a brand?, How do consumers use negative online consumer reviews and how should companies respond to those messages?, How do consumers make campaigns go viral?, How do Facebook interactions with brands influence consumers’ brand attitudes?, Should we use humor or fear appeals to motivate people to drink responsibly?, How to stimulate condom use through soap operas? How to systematically develop appealing and effective health websites and apps?, What is the added value of Internet use for communication with health care providers?.

Several former Master's students have won important prizes for their thesis, such as the SWOCC thesis prize, the Hans Du Chatinier Prize for Students and the Unilever Research Prize, demonstrating the practical relevance of the research conducted by students.

Study programme

Below you find an overview of the structure of the 1-year programme in Persuasive Communication. Follow the link for more information about the courses and electives.

Homepage Persuasive Communication