SOAS University of London

Centre for Global Media and Communications

International Political Communication

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Term 2

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

Aims and Objectives
  • To provide a detailed understanding and critical interrogation of the theoretical literature on political communication and its applicability and relevance to Southern contexts.
  • To explore the changing face of politics and the growing significance of mediated communication in campaigns and election processes in the South.
  • To understand the mediated dynamics of international negotiations and international public diplomacy and the mediated nature of contemporary international relations.
  • To explore the significance of media in the international conduct of both war and peace
  • Students will understand the central theoretical issues in political communication and be able to apply them to non-Western settings.
  • Students will have had the opportunity to locate, research and analyze in some detail either a specific political communications issue in a non-Western context or a particular transnational use of media/communications within an international political dispute.
  • Students will have learned to critically evaluate and present media and internet source materials.

Scope and syllabus

The course aims to provide students with a critical understanding of the role of media and communications technologies in national politics in non-Western contexts as well as the increasingly important role of mediated communication in contemporary international relations and public diplomacy. The course reviews the relevant literatures and establishes a critical vocabulary.

The course explores the role of media in gaining and maintaining political influence in Western democracies and the importance of political campaigns, political marketing and advertising. It asks whether and how these techniques are used outside Western democratic nations and what meaning concepts such as ‘public sphere’, ‘public opinion’ and propaganda/spin have in non-Western contexts. The course offers comparative perspectives on political communication through detailed case studies (Middle East, India, China).

But the course also explores the role of propaganda and public diplomacy in international situations of conflict and war, propounding the argument that much of contemporary international relations is actually international communications in various forms.

Within these frameworks, the course examines a range of interconnected topics: theories of democracy and the media; modern political persuasion, spin and international propaganda; international political marketing and advertising; the Americanisation of political communication; personalisation of politics; different traditions of public diplomacy and cultural diplomacy; media’s role in conflict and peace processes; the growth of e-government and the expansion of potentially interactive media.

Method of assessment

Book review of 1,000 words worth 20% of the final mark, essay of 3,000 words worth 80% of the final mark

Suggested reading


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules