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Media and Public Opinion in International Relations


Admission requirements



In democracies, citizens’ opinions are expected to play a role in shaping policy outcomes, not only in domestic politics, but also in foreign policy and international affairs. In order to learn about international affairs, citizens depend on information from the media, and media in turn also offers a forum for the expression of public opinion which may then affect foreign policy. In order to better understand this dynamic relationship between public, media, and political leaders, this seminar first investigates the role of media in democracies and how public opinion can be defined and measured. Next, the seminar will focus on the media coverage of international affairs and the mechanisms by which the media can affect public opinion such as agenda setting, priming, and framing. Next, the seminar will look at the rise of social media and how this development has and is transforming society and politics. In the last part of the seminar, the public opinion dynamics around a few salient issues and topics such as the use of force/terrorism, migration/refugees, climate change, and Brexit will be analyzed. 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:
Two Short Article Review Assignments (20%);
Academic Article Presentation (10%);
Review Essay (30%);
Research Proposal (30%);
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 available before the start of the course on Blackboard.


See general information on tab 'Year 3'