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MCH8178 : Public Relations in Government and Politics

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s):
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module will provide students with key theoretical frameworks and contemporary academic critique of the relationships existing between public relations, government and politics. It will provide students with an in-depth knowledge of the practices of working political PR for governments, parties, firms, and interest groups. It will provide them with an in-depth understanding of the critical role of communications in the efficient working of government, and the responsibilities of practitioners. It will provide them with critical insights into the persuasive efforts of marketing by political parties. It will give students a substantive understanding of the ethical challenges of lobbying undertaken by firms and interest groups to influence governance, and the scope of lobbying of political parties. It will provide them with a detailed knowledge of the wider public relations efforts of governments. It will challenge them to engage in a scholarly criticism of how political public relations characterizes politics in the wider society, and how it defends public challenges to that characterization, especially in times of democratic crisis.

Outline Of Syllabus

The following topics will be developed:
- Politicians and the publics
- Political marketing and branding
- Political media and journalism
- Political rhetoric and speechwriting
- Government communications
- International relations and soft power
- Lobbying by by business and special interest groups
- Ethical considerations
- Political activism

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00Interactive non-synchronous lecture materials delivered online
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion225:0050:00Independent preparation for assessments
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:006 hours on campus; 5 hours online synchronous
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading112:0022:00Directed weekly to set texts and readings
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching71:007:00On-campus sessions. Can be switched online if needed
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops22:004:00Practical on-campus workshops aligned to assessment tasks, can be switched online if needed
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study195:0095:00Guided engagement with readings, videos & podcasts related to learning and assessment
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The online non-synchronous learning materials will introduce appropriate academic theories and concepts on political public relations, which will be illustrated with examples of historical and contemporary practice. These will present an overview of the key practices, constraints and contingencies of contemporary public relations practice within political communication and public affairs.

These online materials will be expanded upon within scheduled weekly on-campus lectures. Students will engage with the lecturer in the key debates, as a class, and student contributions will be encouraged.

The small-group sessions will give students a chance to practice their critical skills and to apply their critical knowledge in advance of their assessments. Students will debate the coherence and context of scholarly criticism of the industry, using relevant articles from peer-reviewed academic journals and contextual case studies. It is expected that all students will contribute to on-campus and online discussions.

These teaching methods will work together so that students learn what best practice currently is in this complex environment of government public relations, and to make reasonable and well-informed arguments for how and why best practice might be improved, tested and implemented.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2A402 x 500 words persuasive political speeches with accompanying 500-word rationale (K1, K2, K3, K5, S1, S2, S4)
Written exercise2A602000-word critical review of a campaign which sought to influence legislation (K1, K3, K4, S3, S4)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment method (political speeches followed by critical campaign review) is designed to support students in accomplishing a range of considered, literate, polished work, at a level expected of master’s students. Together, the speeches (with rationale) and review are designed to support students in demonstrating their knowledge of the area (both in-depth and contextualized), and their ability to present a reasoned and critical argument about political public relations practices in writing.

The 2 x 500-word persuasive political speeches will be produced mid-way through the semester. The accompanying 500-word rationale will incorporate research, persuasive reasoning techniques and evidence that supports claims made. This student work should illustrate at a relatively early stage if any particular student is struggling with key aspects of the module, allowing help and advice to be given by the tutor in good time.

The Critical Campaign Review will be due at the end of the module, as the final assessment, using relevant interdisciplinary frameworks in a scholarly critique of public relations practice. This review will showcase the critical abilities of each student, as they conduct research into an existing political campaign, critically analysing and evaluating the effectiveness of their example through the lens of the extant academic literature. The assessment aims for the student to compose an informed, scholarly written critique of political public relations practices.

Reading Lists