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Visual Political Communication in Modern China


Admission requirements

There are no official entry requirements for students wishing to take this module, but students are generally expected to have passed the BA2 module “Government and Politics of Modern China”. Experience with media analysis will be helpful, and students are encouraged to also take the first semester BA3 course “Political Language and Discourse in Modern China”, however students with no previous exposure to political analysis of language and visual communication will be able to acquire the necessary knowledge throughout the course.

The course will be taught in English. A good command of standard Chinese is strongly recommended for the analysis of Chinese media content.


This course deals with the political dimension of visual communication in China. The course approach is topical: students will first be introduced to various theories concerning communication practices and the analysis of visual materials. They will then analyze specific visual media genres, ranging from advertisements, TV drama series, news broadcasts, and talk shows, to staged events such as the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. Students will explore how various forces (social, political, economic) interact to create the various visual media contents, and what political messages such media products and media events relay to the audiences.

Course objectives

Participants in this course will acquire the following:

  • An understanding of theories dealing with visual political communication processes (including discourse analysis and semiotics).

  • The ability to relate visual materials content to its production, distribution, and reception.

  • The capacity to prepare multi-level media products such as television drama series for detailed visual analysis and academic presentation, for instance by creating transcripts, shot protocols, and shot graphics.

  • A toolbox of methods to identify and analyze political themes, such as security, welfare, or national identity, in multi-media material.


To be announced.

Mode of instruction


The work-load for this course will roughly be as follows:

  • Seminar time: 24 hours

  • Reading and course work: 76 hours

  • Writing the final paper: 40 hours
    Total: 140 hours

Assessment method

In order to pass this course, the following will be required of the participants:

  • Regular course assignments (40% of final mark).

  • Research paper (60% of final mark).
    Regular, punctual attendance, thorough preparation of reading material, and continuous course participation are also expected.


The module will make use of blackboard for course communication, general course proceedings, and information on reading material as well as assessment criteria.

Reading list

The general required reading will be provided throughout the course. A recommended introduction available at the Sinology library is:

  • Zhu, Ying & Berry, Chris (eds.) (2008), TV China : A Reader on New Media, Bloomington : Indiana University Press.


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

For questions or additional information please contact your study coordinator, or the lecturer:
Dr. Florian Schneider
Office Location: Arsenaal 009