11332 - Political Communication

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Students who complete this course will be able to:

- develop an understanding of the political and institutional contexts in which actors adopt different strategies of political communication;

- interpret such strategies in relation to electoral campaigns in the European and North American systems;

- analyse the role played by the mass media in the public sphere and assess the degree to which their action has an impact on citizens' opinions and choices;

- identify and understand the main forms of online political communication.

Course contents

The course is organized in lectures and seminars. Lectures (16 hours) aim to introduce students to the core tenets of the discipline. Seminars (12 hours) aim to provide occasions for in-depth discussions of class materials and exercises. For the seminar section of the course, students will be divided in two groups according to their preferences, for a total of 28 hours for each student. Students are required to carefully read the assigned material before the session and - in the case of seminars - active participation through presentations of existing scholarship and case studies will also be expected.

The first part of the course will present the field of political communication through its main theoretical and empirical approaches, touching on subjects such as the evolution of electoral campaigns, political marketing, the connection between media, politics and institutions, and the transformations of political communication in the digital age.

In the seminar section of the course we will discuss a series of case studies through examples of empirical research, audiovisual material regarding electoral campaigns, and other documents and materials.


Attending students

The main text for the first part of the course is:

Mazzoleni, G. (ed.) (2021) Introduzione alla Comunicazione Politica. Bologna: Il Mulino

A syllabus in English and Italian with further readings will be made available on the first day of class.

Non attending students

Mazzoleni, G. (ed.) (2021) Introduzione alla Comunicazione Politica. Bologna: Il Mulino

Campus, D. (2016) Lo stile del leader. Decidere e comunicare nelle democrazie contemporanee. Bologna: Il Mulino (capp. 1, 5, 6) (available on Darwin Books)

Esser, F., & Pfetsch, B. (2020). Political Communication. In D. Caramani (Ed.), Comparative Politics. Fifth edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 336-358. (pre-print available here)

Graham, T., Jackson, D., and Broersma, M. (2016). New platform, old habits? Candidates’ use of Twitter during the 2010 British and Dutch general election campaigns. In New Media and Society, 18(5), 765-783.

Micalizzi, A., Piccioni, T. (2021) Instagram-Politics: il linguaggio per immagini delle donne in politica. In Problemi dell'informazione, pp. 237-266.

Teaching methods

Lectures, seminars, student presentations, discussion of case studies and readings.

Assessment methods

Attending students

- Presentations in class and active participation to the seminars (20% of the grade)

- Final paper (40%)

- Final (take-home) exam (40%)

Further details regarding the organization of the presentations and the final paper and exam will be discussed on the first day of class.

Non attending students

- Final exam with multiple choice questions and essay questions (100% of the grade)

Teaching tools

PowerPoint presentations, audiovisual material, exercises.

Office hours

See the website of Claudia Capelli


Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities Sustainable cities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.