The University of Southampton

PAIR3032 Politics of the Media

Module Overview

This module provides a theoretical and empirical overview of the role played by information, communication, and media within the politics of the modern state. Students are introduced to canonical as well as marginal and emerging perspectives on media politics and asked to weigh them against the empirical record established by extant qualitative and quantitative scholarship. The overarching question that will guide this course is the most important question in media politics today: under what conditions do the media increase the power of the masses and under what conditions do the media merely strengthen states and elites Students will gain an independent and critical command of the essential questions in media politics. They will learn to engage with historical texts, theoretical texts, contemporary academic research, as well as cutting-edge contemporary discussions of media politics on the internet. In other words, students will acquire the theoretical tools required of any global citizen who would seek to produce new knowledge in the state-of-the-art of media politics. - Students will be able to apply their knowledge to diverse real-world issues, questions, and historical trends. - Students will improve their ability to develop original research questions and write formal academic research papers. - Students will develop the oral and verbal skills necessary to communicate their ideas effectively to a wide range of audiences. In particular, through their engagement with contemporary theorists and practitioners of media politics online, students will learn the skills and norms required to become active and networked participants in both theoretical discussions and on-the-ground developments in media politics.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to: • Have a critical, developed, independent perspective on the role of media in the politics across contemporary states. • Speak, write, and disseminate online their independent perspectives on the main questions and issues in the politics of media. • Have a basic working knowledge of today’s incipient trends and questions in the politics of media, and their institutional landscape. • Have a more reflexive awareness of how the politics of media shape their own perceptions and behaviors

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and an independent perspective on the role of media in the politics across contemporary states
  • Demonstrate working knowledge and understanding of of today’s incipient trends and questions in the politics of media, and their institutional landscape
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how the politics of media shape their own perceptions and behaviors


Each week will be devoted to a theme where a diverse range of perspectives is presented. Typically, each week’s theme will expose the student to the main classic/canonical theoretical perspective(s), the main dissident/heterodox and typically more contemporary perspective(s), a qualitative empirical piece (case studies) providing evidentiary material and, where applicable, quantitative studies. The balance of these materials will be variable and depend on the nature of theme.

Learning and Teaching

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Lance Bennett, W., Breunig, C., & Givens, T. (2008). Communication and Political Mobilization. Digital Media and the Organization of Anti-Iraq War Demonstrations in the U.S. Political Communication. ,25 , pp. 269–289.

Oates, Sarah (2008). Introduction to Media and Politics. 

Bennett, W. L. (1990). Toward a Theory of Press-State Relations in the United States. International Studies Quarterly. ,40 , pp. 103–127.

Norris, P. (2000). Virtuous Circle: Political Communications in Postindustrial Societies. 

Aalberg, T., van Aelst, P., & Curran, J. (2010). Media Systems and the Political Information Environment: A Cross-National Comparison. International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society. ,15 , pp. 255–271.



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (1500 words) 40%
Essay  (3000 words) 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  ( words) 60%
Essay  ( words) 40%


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Library copies of textbooks have been requested. For students who wish to buy personal copies, the total sum for books does not exceed £60.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Google+ Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.