PO2TMP1-The Media and Politics

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Dawn Clarke

Email: d.clarke@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

The module introduces students to the practice of discussing politics through the media, to theories of the roles played by the media in politics, and to how the media work in the world today.  It combines lectures and seminars with participation in a radio show.  In the event the module is oversubscribed those studying politics as part of their programmes will normally be given priority.  The module requires student attendance at editorial meetings at 1:00pm on a Tuesday and at most radio shows across the autumn term – these are delivered live at 7:00 pm each Tuesday evening.  Contact the module convenor for further details.  This reduced version of the full 20 credit module is only available to students who are studying abroad in the spring term.


The module has two broad aims:

  • First, to develop students’ understanding of the roles played by the media in contemporary politics. This aim is pursued in part through engagement with scholarly writings and analysis of media practices and outputs. It is further developed by the discussion of politics through a variety of media and reflection upon that practice.

  • Second, to develop students’ capacities to engage a broad audience in thinking about politics and to communicate ideas about politics to a broad audience through both research and presentation. This is intended to advance a wide range of presentational, technical, and team-working skills

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module, it is expected that students should be able:

• to show knowledge and understanding of theories of the nature of the media and of the relationship between media and politics;

• to show knowledge and understanding of how the news is made in practice;

• to analyse media content and identify how it has been constructed and what effects it might be expected to have;

• to plan, research, and present materi al on the radio in a manner that is accessible and engaging for a broad audience;

• to write in a way that is analytical and precise, but also accessible to a broad audience;

• to reflect upon how their work for the module has developed their broader skills and how they might deploy these skills and experiences in pursuit of further goals, including future employment.

Additional outcomes:

Students’ team-working skills will be developed through participation in planning of the radio show in editorial meetings and through working in small teams in the development of radio reports. Students’ engagement with contemporary affairs will be deepened through the expectation that they will keep up with what is happening on the international, national, and local political stages. Students will develop their IT skills, particularly in using audio recording equipment and audio editing software. Depending on their choices, they may develop specific skills of interviewing or surveying. 

Outline content:

The content is indicative only and may be subject to change:

The module looks at key topics in the study of the media and media power, encompassing both theory and reality in a range of countries around the world. It includes such topics as how media agendas are set and how the media affect a variety of aspects of politics. In addition, through the production of a weekly radio show, the module engages students in thinking practically about how news agendas are set and how news sto ries are developed and packaged. Through reflection, it encourages students to work consciously on the various transferable skills that they can develop through the module. 

Global context:

The module requires students to present on current developments in politics at the international level (as well as national and local levels), including developments that are not prominent in the mainstream media. In this way, students are encouraged to engage with contemporary world affairs beyond a mere recounting of existing media presentations.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The more conventional aspects of the module, exploring media theory and the nature of the media in practice, will be taught through lectures and seminars, structured around specified topics. In addition, students will participate in weekly editorial meetings in order to plan and prepare material for the weekly radio show, and they will appear on the show during the autumn term. There will also be practical workshops early in the autumn term, in which students will learn about presentation and interview skills and about audio recording and editing. 

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 4
Seminars 5
Practicals classes and workshops 14
Supervised time in studio/workshop 6
Guided independent study: 71
Total hours by term 100
Total hours for module

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 70
Practical skills assessment 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

There are two pieces of assessed coursework for the module. 

Short Radio Piece (30%)

Each week, the radio show includes a section looking at the political events of the past week.  There are generally three contributors looking at international, national and local/campus news.  During the term, you will need to produce a pre-recorded interview element for one of these pieces, where you will discuss an agreed topic with someone from beyond the module.  These formative contributions in the Autumn Term will allow you to practice and hone your broadcasting skills.  For your short interview piece, you will need to edit and upload the audio file (in Mp3 format) via Turnitin.  You will receive feedback on the composition, technical quality and impact of the piece. 

Long Essay  (70%)

The final assignment is an essay (of 3,500 words +/- 10%).  This is the same kind of assignment as for many other modules.  It is worth 70% of the module mark.

Formative assessment methods:

  • Students will give presentations during the seminars on essay questions and on analysis of media reporting. They will participate in at least one  radio broadcast  in addition to those on which they are summatively assessed, at least one of which will be before their first assessed broadcast. During the workshops, they will take part in role plays in order to practice presenting and interviewing skills.

  • A short radio piece, lasting around 4 minutes and broadcast live, on recent events in the world of politics. Participants’ feedback on their experience in the next editorial session. The audio recording of the broadcast should be submitted on Blackboard within one week of the broadcast.

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:

40% overall. 

Reassessment arrangements:

If a student fails to pass the year at the first attempt there is an opportunity to be re-assessed on one further occasion at the next opportunity in those modules achieving a mark of less than 40%. Students who are eligible for re-assessment have the right to re-assessment in all elements even if they have previously passed one of those elements. It is expected, however, that the majority of students would probably elect not to repeat an element in which they had already passed, in which case the confirmed marks would be carried forward.

Coursework: Failed or missing coursework should be re-submitted in line with the published guidelines.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 4 April 2020


Things to do now