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Politics, Governance and Media


Admission requirements

Only students of the MSc Public Administration can take this course.


In this course, we address the power and information triangle between politicians, civil servants and the media. In the array of branches of power, the media have secured a firm place. In this light, some scholars even speak of the mediatization of politics and administration. Besides the three actor types mentioned above, a number of additional types of actors have gained importance in our political-administrative system: strategic advisers (spin doctors) and public affairs professionals (lobbyists). Led by a number of subthemes, the seminar offers a wide and critical view of this complex. The relations between civil servants and the media and politicians and the media differ from one another. Special attention is given to the role of the media in political scandals and the image-making in the media about politicians and civil service in times of crisis. Also, the rise of social media and their significance for politics and administration will be on the program. The classes will consist of interactive lectures, class presentations and student-led discussions.

The central questions that will be addressed, are:
• How the spheres of politics, administration and the media relate to one another?
• Where are the tensions and how are they addressed, smoothened or exploited by the various actors?
• How does information flow among the various actors and how are these flows used strategically by the various actors?
• What are the implications of all this for policy making and policy implementation?
• What are the implication of all this for the way our societies are governed?
• What are the implications of all this for the democratic process and democratic control?

Learning objectives

• To provide students with knowledge of the most important theoretical, empirical and normative debates on the relationship between the media, politics and administration.
• To familiarize students with topical research in the field of media, politics and administration, which brings together political science, public administration, journalism and communication studies.
• To enhance students’ critical understanding of the potential and limits of various recent approaches to the role of the media.
• To stimulate active class participation
• To enhance students academic presenting and writing skills.

On completion of the course, students should be able to:
• Discuss the key characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of the subfield of politics, administration and the media.
• Apply theoretical concepts to concrete instances of politics and administration where there is an connection with the media.
• Follow and understand debates on institutional, policy, democratic and legitimacy challenges in in relation to the role of the media.
• Build, present and defend well-grounded arguments on the substance, advantages, and challenges of an increased significance of the media in the process of politics and administration.



Methods of instruction

This course consists of lectures and tutorials. This course is compulsory.

Method of assessment

Learning aim: Interactive engagement with course material
Assessment 1: In-class participation, 15 %

Learning aim: Individual understanding and analysis of core readings and extra material
Assessment 2: weekly assignment on the readings, 20%

Learning aims: Understanding of course content and Research skills
Assessment 3: Final paper outline (600w), 15 %

Assessment 4: Review of the outlines of two fellow students (total 500w) 10%

Assessment 5: Final paper (2.250w), 40 %

In order to pass this course, the grade for the final paper must be at least 5.5 and the weighted average of in-class participation (15%), weekly assignments (20%), final paper outline (15%) and reviews (10%) must be at least 5.5. If the grade for the final paper is between 3 and 6, it may be retaken.


Yes, from one week before the start of the course onwards

Other course materials/literature

  • Louw, E. (2010) The Media & Political Process, Los Angeles/London: Sage. 2nd Edition.
    • Hood, Ch (2012) The Blame Game: Spin, Bureaucracy, and Self-Preservation in Government, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
    • Various articles (TBA) stressing the particular role of the media for civil servants, policy, and with focus on social media, crisis, etc.


Registration for every course and exam in USIS is mandatory. For courses, registration is possible from four weeks up to three days before the start of the course.
For exams, registration is possible from four weeks up to ten days before the date of the examination.


Dr. C.F. van den Berg
Office hours Mondays 09:00 – 10:30, according to appointment