Skip to main content


POL3109 : Gender, Campaigns and Media

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Maarja Luhiste
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The module aims to outline the role of gender in political communication. In particular, the aims in this module are to enable students: to gain an understanding of the concepts of gender and political communication from a theoretical and a methodological perspective; to examine the extent to which gender moderates candidate side campaign communication as well as to explore gendered media portrayals of women candidates and political leaders; and to consider the consequences of gendered media coverage and campaign communications both on political elites and on women’s mass political engagement. Additionally, the course aims to demonstrate the variety of methodological approaches used in the scholarship examining women and political communication.

Outline Of Syllabus

Political institutions, such as electoral rules and political parties, are traditionally blamed for women’s continuing underrepresentation in politics. While significant changes have been made to increase the number of women in parliaments and governments, electoral rules alone will not eliminate the yet significant gender gap in political representation. How politicians communicate with the electorate and how they are represented in the media matter, too. As such, the aim of this module is to examine the role of gender in political communication by covering the following topics:

Gender and political communication:
•       Sex and gender: understanding the concepts.
•       Political communication: what it stands for?
•       Linking gender and political communication: women’s representation in campaigns, media, and politics.

Candidates’ communication with the electorate along the campaign trail:
•       Gender and campaigning: strategies, issues, and agenda setting.
•       Gender and traditional campaigning techniques.
•       Women candidates and new technologies (candidate websites and social media presence).
Campaign coverage in the media:
•       Understanding media and media effects: agenda setting, framing, priming, and issue salience/ownership.
•       Measuring media effects: approaches and methods used in political communication research.
•       Women in the news and in televised debates.
•       Similarities and differences in women and men’s political media consumption and in the way they react to political messages and gendered coverage.

Changing images of women in power:
•       Building the symbolic and substantive link: women representatives’ communication with their constituents.
•       Media portrayals of women representatives at the regional, national, and European level.
•       Women as world leaders: media coverage of women presidents and prime ministers across the globe.
•       The non-elected women leaders in the media: media coverage and treatment of first ladies.
Consequences of gendered media coverage and campaign communications:
•       Electoral consequences of women’s campaigns and news media coverage.
•       Gendered media coverage and women’s mass political participation and engagement.
•       How to bring forth change in women’s media coverage?
The course will address these topics by drawing on examples from the UK, the U.S., and continental Europe.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture211:0021:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are crucial to provide students with an introduction to key ideas, actors, and events. Lectures make extensive use of power point slides to help re-enforce students’ understanding. The lecturers own expertise and research into these topics provides engaging examples and contributes towards the goal of research informed teaching. Seminars will allow students to follow up these ideas and issues by asking questions and debating amongst themselves. It provides the context for students to articulate their knowledge and understanding and to help them prepare for written assessment.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M25Project proposal 1000 words
Written exercise2M75Empirical project - 2500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

This is a module that covers primarily empirical research on gender and political communication, with considerable emphasis placed on introducing and understanding various approaches and methods used in scholarship examining political communication and women’s representation. To map the assessment to the module aims and learning outcomes, project proposal (25%) and an empirical project (75%) focusing on an aspect of campaign practice or media coverage of a specific politician of student’s choice will be used to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate both their overall understanding of the core concepts and debates surrounding the study of gender and political communication as well as their ability to examine an empirical case with their chosen approach and method.. The project will also assess students’ ability to synthesise the theoretical and empirical material acquired from lectures, seminars, and independent research. It will also offer students the opportunity to investigate in greater depth a particular aspect of the politics of gender.

Reading Lists