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Media and Public Opinion in International Relations


Admission requirements

Participation in the seminar is only permitted if the propaedeutic phase has been passed (60 EC).


Events, crises, conflicts, and decisions in international relations are not just the domain of governments and other national and international institutions and organizations but also depend on public support and the discussion in the public sphere. Public opinion reflects the values, preferences, and experiences of citizens but is also shaped by international events, developments, crises, and the actions and messages of political actors. Public opinion can, of course, also affect political decisions and official policies. The interplay between political elites and decision makers and the mass public depends to a substantial degree on mass (and social) media which constitute a public forum where information and opinions about international events and affairs are exchanged.
After an introduction to the overall topic and the role of media in democracies, the seminar will focus first on the media coverage of international affairs, in particular the role of political elites in shaping the media coverage. Second, the seminar will investigate how public opinion can be defined and measured, and in particular the mechanisms by which the media can affect public opinion such as agenda setting, priming, and framing. Third, the seminar will look at the rise of social media and how this development already has and continues to transform society and politics. The seminar will draw primarily on scholarship and findings from empirical research.

Course objectives

Objective 1: At the end of the course, students are familiar with and have a clear understanding of important theories of and research on the role of media and public opinion in international politics.
Objective 2: At the end of the course, students can use their knowledge to critically and analytically engage with the scholarship on media and public opinion.
Objective 3: At the end of the course, students are able to develop clear and cogent arguments and present, discuss, and express them in writing.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load: 280 hours.
Seminars: 28 hours.
Studying the literature: 125 hours.
Preparation of written assignments and presentation: 127 hours.

Assessment method

The final grade is based on the weighted average of the following components:
Presentations (30%);
Literature Review Essay (20%);
Research Proposal (40%);
Class Participation (10%). (Please note that it is not possible to retake any of these components.)

Reading list

The course readings consist of academic journal articles and book chapters. The detailed reading list is part of the syllabus and will be available before the start of the course on Brightspace.


See 'Practical Information'.


See 'MyTimetable'