POL8048 : World Politics and Popular Culture

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To introduce current critical approaches to world politics and popular culture
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? Most 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 cuture, 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'?
3 What is 'popular culture' and what are the politics of the popular?
4 World politics and visual methods
5 World politics and film
6 World politics and television
7 World politics and aural methods
8 World politics and music
9 World politics and affect
10 World politics and virtual realities: video games, internet

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1178:00178:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Seminar discussions will provide the opportunity for the development and demonstration of each of the learning outcomes. The seminar will also be divided into four small groups, each of which will be responsible for leading discussion on a specific analytical or theoretical question for each seminar. The first hour of each seminar will be given over to group presentations on these questions, and the second hour will be open discussion to deepen analyses and to synthesise material (skills outcome 4). Groups will have to prepare in advance of each seminar and outside of the seminar meeting.

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

4000 word research and analytical essay on global politics approached from popular experience, media, discourses or practices.

The essay is a summative assessment. Ongoing oral feedback in response to seminar participation will be given during semesters, but will not be calculated in the final mark.

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 (knowledge outcome 5). 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