MCH8178 : Public Relations in Government and Politics

Semester 1 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:

•       How UK Government works
•       Prominent scholarly critiques of democratic government
•       Communication within Government and between Government and its publics
•       Government communication for International Relations
•       Marketing political parties
•       Lobbying regulation in the UK
•       Political lobbying by firms, trade organizations and special interest groups
•       Political activism
•       Political communication and democracy

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials94:0036:00Interactive non-synchronous materials delivered online. Each hr of lecture equates to 2 hrs delivery
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion220:0040:00Independent preparation for assessments
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Present-in-person sessions
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1106:00106:00Guided engagement with readings, videos & podcasts related to learning and assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time91:009:00Group online synchronous learning consolidation
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The online non-synchronous learning materials will present for students a substantive and detailed survey of appropriate academic theories on political public relations, which will be illustrated with examples of historical and contemporary practice. These will present for students an in-depth survey of the key practices, constraints and contingencies of contemporary public relations practice in the area of public affairs. Learning materials will be based on the most up-to-date postgraduate-level textbooks, scholarly edited collections, well-regarded scholarly books, and peer-reviewed communications journals. Students will engage with the lecturer in the key debates, as a class, and student contributions will be encouraged.

The present-in-person sessions and online-synchronous 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 recent and relevant articles from peer-reviewed academic journals such as Journal of Public Relations Research, PRism, Public Relations Review, Political Communication, Journal of Public Affairs, and Parliamentary Affairs. Students will assess whether academic theories have translated into effective practice, using case studies taken from the established historical record, from postgraduate-level textbooks, and the most contemporary case studies illustrated by the trade publications of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. It is expected that all students will contribute to present-in-person and online discussions.

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

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1A352 x 500 words persuasive political speech with accompanying 500-word rationale (K1, K2, K3, K5, S1, S2, S4)
Written exercise1A652000-word critical review of a campaign which sought to influence legislation (K1, K3, K4, S3, S4)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment method (political speeces followed by critical campaign review) is designed to support students in accomplishing a range of considered, literate, polished work, at a level of scholarship expected of master’s students at an excellent university. 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 speeches will be produced mid-way through the semester. It 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