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POL8048 : World Politics and Popular Culture

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Matt Davies
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


•       To develop interdisciplinary skills for international political analysis
•       To understand the links and mutual influences between world politics and popular culture
•       To introduce methods relevant to the study of popular culture and world politics

What can we learn about world politics from popular culture? Conventional scholarly representations of world politics present an image of a 'higher' realm of politics, one peopled by elites such as diplomats, heads of state, military officers or, more abstractly, by states-as-actors. Such representations of world politics are typically reproduced in popular culture, such as in spy fiction. However, by virtue of being 'popular', popular culture also presents the possibility of a politics that is not abstracted and insulated from the concerns and experiences of 'ordinary' people. Thus, world politics in popular culture can be both the reproduction of alienated or elite versions of global politics and the critique of that politics.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics covered are likely to vary from year to year, depending on events. The following outline should indicate a framework for these topics.

1       What is 'world politics'?
2       What is 'culture'? What is 'popular culture' and what are the politics of the popular?
3       World politics and visual methods
4       World politics and the video environment: film, television, internet
5       World politics and aural methods
6       World politics and music
7       World politics and affect
8       World politics and virtual realities: video games, internet
9       The aesthetics of world politics: how we experience and judge the world

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching82:0016:00In-person seminar discussion meetings to discuss readings and other materials.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching32:006:00Online, synchronous seminars Discussions of readings/other mat, and student-prepared presentation. These seminars typically held along with students in an external university, for international in-seminar collaboration
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1178:00178:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures and directed readings will introduce students to critical approaches to world politics and theories of popular culture. Lectures will introduce methods for the analysis of the visual, aural, and emotional/affective environments. Seminar discussions will be used to clarify students’ understandings of key concepts and to practice analyses of artefacts of popular culture. Student presentations will develop both analytical skills and practical experience with diverse modes of presentation. The summative assessment will demonstrate the students’ capacity to analyse artefacts from popular culture in terms of their meanings or impacts on world politics, understood broadly.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research paper1M1004000 word research and analytical paper
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The summative assessment will demonstrate the students’ capacity to analyse artefacts from popular culture in terms of their meanings or impacts on world politics, understood broadly. The essay will demonstrate research, analysis, and writing skills and the ability to adopt methods developed for the analysis of cultural artefacts for the analysis of world politics. It will demonstrate the students’ grasp of contemporary critical theories of world politics.

The essay should demonstrate the students' grasp of all of the knowledge outcomes but should especially demonstrate a specific reading of an approach to global politics through a particular medium of popular culture (knowledge outcome 4) and how this popular experience or medium demonstrates or problematises the global or the international as a political space. The essay must also demonstrate the students' mastery of relevant and multidisciplinary analytical skills (skills outcomes 1, 2 and 5) as well as the ability to read texts from popular culture (skills outcome 3).

Reading Lists