The curriculum of the Political 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 your thesis, two electives and the final Master's thesis.
Dr. Alessandro Nai, lecturer in Citizens and Public Opinion:
'This course focuses on the uses and effects of political communication on individual citizens and the formation of public opinion. Developments in citizens’ use of political information will be analyzed and effects will be discussed with both national and international examples. The overarching goal of the seminar is to familiarize students with the key concepts and theories in current (political) communication effects and public opinion research and to contribute to a better understanding of the role and power of political communication in the relationship between citizens and politics.
The focus of the course will be, first, at the individual level: what is the public, and how can we assess its “opinion”? What new forms of political participation are promoted by the digitalization of democracy? In a second stage, we will focus on the content of political communication, in terms of narrative persuasion, negativity, and the use of emotional appeals in modern electoral campaigns. How do candidates “communicate” during their campaigns? Why are they going “negative” against their opponents, and with what effects? And what is the place of emotions in contemporary political communication, and does this affect how citizens make up their minds about politics?'
The course ‘Journalism and the Media’ focuses on the relation between media and politics. It addresses different models and conceptions of political journalism, the role of journalism in society, ethical considerations, issues of freedom of speech, and the question of what represents 'good' political journalism. Attention is also devoted to the challenges for today’s journalism in a more commercialised, concentrated and globalised multi-platform media environment.
Emilie Westerouen van Meeteren, The Netherlands, student in Political Communication:
‘I chose Political Communication because I was especially interested in the effect that journalism has on our society. From the selection of certain stories as ‘news’ (and others as ‘not’) and the framing of stories to match certain perspectives, to the indirect influence of commercial interests and spin doctoring by political parties; news media influence how we view the world immensely. My papers for Journalism and the Media have focused on this role of journalism in our society, for example on their responsibility to prevent public panic in a crisis situation.
Within the course, you are focusing on a world that is constantly changing around us, making it very relevant and relatable to the events of everyday. The programme provides a lot of opportunities for debate with a group of international students with varying perspectives, which in addition to the content of the Master’s provides you with a great understanding of how media and society work, which is a great attribute for any career in our mediated world.'
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 of 6 ECTS each. The programme offers a core set of electives but the subjects can vary per semester, reflecting new trends and developments in communication research and practice. You can pick electives from both Political Communication (e.g. Psychology in Political Communication) and other tracks (e.g. Persuasive Design in a Digital Era). Here you can read about all the electives.
The Master’s thesis is developed with the guidance of an experienced supervisor. You will develop and carry out your own original research project. Previous research topics included: how young people’s attitudes are influenced by watching political satire; whether and why there are cross-national differences in the way media report on the global economic crisis; how foreign correspondents see their journalistic roles; the role of emotions in political communication or what impact the news media have on attitudes towards immigration or election outcomes.
You will often have the opportunity to participate and work in on-going research projects. Even though the Graduate School’s Research Master’s is a more extensive, methods oriented two-year preparation for research positions, excellent students of the Political Communication track who have, or develop, a strong research interest during their studies can compete for them as well. Several example theses of this and other tracks can be found here.