POL2093 : Politics, Participation and Citizenship in the Digital Age (Inactive)

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This course will explore the changing practice of politics, political participation and citizenship in an increasingly digital environment. The aims in this module are to enable students: to gain a grasp of theories and methodological approaches to the study of political participation, political communication and government service delivery in the digital age, to critically examine these theories and methodologies related to the digital environment, and to assess the legal and ethical issues emanating from increasing dependence on ITCs in the political sphere.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics taught will be drawn from the following:
1. The historical trajectory of the study of political communication:
a.       Walter Lippmann and original conceptions of media influence in politics
b.       Harold Lasswell and The Institute of Propaganda
c.       Paul Lazarsfeld and the Limited Effect Model
d.       Jack McLeod et al. and the Agenda Setting Model
e.       Non linear theoretical approaches to ‘new media’ i.e. sender-message-receiver versus interactivity and audience participation

2. ‘Democracy requires political knowledge’: The relationship between political communication, information acquisition and political participation
a.       constructionism, cognitive ability, and socio demographic factors
b.       The numerous platforms of news delivery
c.       The fall of traditional news gatekeepers
d.       News ‘specialization’ and emerging bias
e.       Changing the day to day demands of politics and politicians
f.       Instant responses and immediate demands – realistic?

3. Web 2.0
a.       WEB 2.0 as a ‘game changer’ in political activity
b.       Features of Web 2.0
c.       The emerging digital narcissism and the role of ‘experts’

4. Social media and political engagement
a.       Quality of participation
b.       Potential for polarization
c.       Self-filtering of information
d.       The concept of cocooning

5. ICTs and their role in changing the structure and dynamics of public opinion and perception
a.       Crowdsourcing public opinion
b.       Public agenda setting power
c.       Motivating collective action
d.       The role of social context

6. ‘Alternative’ political participation assisted by ICTs:
a.       Participation by diasporas
b.       Enabling transnational politics
c.       Political parties and ‘virtual’ overseas party branches
d.       Campaigning/Fundraising
e.       The role of cyber NGOs, non-profits and foundations

7. E-Government, E-Democracy and E-Voting
a.       Online government services: streamlined, cost saving and ineffective?
b.       Citizen as consumer
c.       Digital Civics defined
d.       E-voting, E-registration: expanding or shrinking the franchise?

8. The changing repertoire of civil disobedience
a.       Electronic civil disobedience
b.       Hacktivism
c.       Publishing private information
d.       Denial of service attacks (DDoS)

9.The digital divide and equality of access
a.       Global divides and local divides
b.       Socio economic factors etc.

10. Legal challenges for emerging technology
a.       Privacy
b.       Security
c.       The concept of functional equivalence

11.The future of digital technologies.

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 teaching101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery51:005:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures introduce students to the key themes of the module. The seminars allow for participation by students in clarifying and exploring key ideas and issues. These help to develop critical-analytical and oral communication skills. Blog posts and essays help to develop critical-analytical skills and written communication skills. Planning and organisational skills are developed throughout module.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M30Students will be required to write 3 blog posts between 500 and 750 words in length.
Essay2M702,500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Blog posts engage the student with current trends in political communication and new engagement practices in digital media. These will also reinforce understanding of topical issues presented in lectures and seminars. Essays allow students to research, interpret and present sources and information concerning theories of political communication, participation and citizenship in the digital age. Moreover, essays assess critical thinking, written communication and argumentation. Weighting towards the essay allows the blog post activity to fulfill a formative function of giving the student feedback and the opportunity to develop their skills further.

Reading Lists