Master Track Political Communication


The track ‘Political Communication‘ addresses issues that are at the core of our democracies. It provides a wide understanding of the role and significance of media, of journalism and information for public opinion.

Key topics in Political Communication

Students of the track Political Communication study the following topics:

  • How do the interactions between (non-)government actor, politicians, journalists and citizens take shape and what features and effects do they have?
  • How is the use of media changing for citizens informing themselves?
  • Who tries to influence the news?
  • How does the media’s information offering come into being?
  • What effects are discernable on public opinion and political behavior?

Important topics include the emergence of weblogs and citizen journalism, increasing globalisation, agenda-setting and the framing of socially relevant issues by stakeholders, politicians, spin doctors and media.


Specialisation seminars

The track Political Communication will be offered in English. The specialisation seminars of the track Political Communication are:

1. Political Communication I: Journalism and the Media (12EC)
2. Political Communication II: Citizens and Public Opinion (12EC)

These courses are required for students of this track.

Elective seminars

In addition to the specialisation seminars, it is possible to include subject areas of your own choice in the programme by attending elective seminars. The electives in 2014-2015, semester 2, are:

1. The WikiLeaks Effect: Journalists and the Politicians Who Spy on Them
We get most of our knowledge about politics from “the media”. But, who are the people creating the TV shows, articles, and blog posts we consume every day? This seminar will take a direct look at how political journalists in the Netherlands, Europe and other parts of the world produce the news. Throughout the seminar, we will evaluate how journalists see their role within society. We will also critically assess how media organizations function today and how much freedom journalists have when reporting politics. Finally, we will discuss which cultural, social and partisan influences affect political journalism. Each week, we will discuss a number of current case studies referring to recent developments in political journalism. Case studies might include reports on how political journalists use social media as a source, or how investigative political journalists report political events where information is scarce or classified. We will also discuss ‘best’ and ‘worst’ practice examples in journalism (e.g., the reporting of NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden in The Washington Postand The Guardian). By critically discussing case studies and other examples, we will be able to re-evaluate some well-known communication theories such as agenda setting or framing.

2. Political Marketing
Political marketing is increasingly affecting the behavior of parties and politicians. Because political marketing alters the way political actors behave, it both challenges and changes the existing relations between the public, journalists and political actors. However, other societal trends both facilitate and hamper the effects of political marketing. For example, media are becoming increasingly fragmented and critical towards politics, and voters are becoming more volatile. The seminar first looks at what political marketing is, and how it changes the behavior of political actors. Secondly, it examines the extent to which the introduction of marketing principles in politics affects the relationships between politics and the media, and politics and the public. Finally, we contemplate what the normative implications of these changes are for the functioning of democracy. This seminar is not just for those who want to understand what is going on “behind the doors” of election campaigns, or even when and why campaigns are most effective: since political marketing presents an important new perspective on the behavior of political actors, with substantial impact on democracy as a whole, this seminar should be of interest to any student interested in the impact of (changes in) political communication on society. 

3. Psychology in Political Communication
Insights from psychology inform our understanding of the effects of political communication on the political attitudes and behaviors of citizens. This seminar aims to provide participants a broad view of the role of psychology in political communication. Accordingly, dwelling upon a variety of theoretical perspectives, we will discuss the importance of emotions, personality, cognitions as well as physiology in political communication. For instance, we will address how the emotions citizens experience in response to political communication influence political attitudes as well as participation in politics. Likewise, we will discuss the extent to which individual differences in personality and cognition influence citizens’ selection into political communication and the effects of these choices. These and other applications of psychological research in the field of political communication will equip participants to critically assess the current state of the art. Moreover, the seminar prepares participants to isolate new and exciting opportunities where psychological insights can be applied to answer important questions in political communication.

Career prospects

The track provides a grounding for editorial, policy, advisory and research positions in the media sector, in government, in politics, in civil-society organisations and in the commercial world. Graduates can be found working as spokespersons, information officers, PR managers or communication consultants for numerous organisations ranging from local municipalities to the European Union and from non-governmental organisations to ministries, in the Dutch and international business world and at a wide variety of consultancies.

Others start their own communication consultancies, publishing companies, or on-line service companies, become documentary makers or journalists, or conduct (media) market research for opinion pollsters or join a company or ministry as management trainees.

Faculty Political Communication

Graduate School of Communication: website.