Course syllabus



POLITICS 113: Politics and the Media

SEMESTER 1, 2018

15 points

Course Convenor: 

Maria Armoudian


Course delivery format:

Timetable and room details can be viewed on Student Services Online



WELCOME to Politics 113 – Politics and the Media. This course provides an introduction to political communication and ‘mediated’ politics, democracy, conflict and peace. It introduces class members to some of the major ideas and academic insights relating to the role of words, phrases, and images in public political life. Topics covered include media history, the role of news media in a democracy, the online revolution, political economy of media, national and global dimensions, media freedom and regulation, journalism and news bias, political marketing and ‘spin’, the analysis of media discourse, and the role and response of audiences. The course is particularly relevant to students interested in further study in politics and media and considering careers related to journalism, public relations, opinion polling, campaign management, political advertising, political consulting, or nonprofit work.  But it is also relevant to anyone who is a member of the New Zealand public and who watches, listens to, or reads the media – which is everyone.


In the first-ever book devoted to politics (no less!), Aristotle famously described humans as being naturally ‘political animals’ because they have the ability to communicate with each other and so collectively pursue a better life. In his day, this meant speaking to each other – there was no news media and politics was a face-to-face activity. Today our political communication is very different. Modern politics is largely mediated politics. The main source of information about what governments do is the media, and our views on what governments should do are generally filtered through the media. The core concern of this course is what difference the news media makes to politics, to the continuing collective pursuit of a better life: how does it help, how does it hinder, how could it improve?

By the end of the course you should possess: a general understanding of the role of the media in democracy; a deeper understanding of the particular role of the news media in its relationship to politics broadly conceived and to the political process viewed more narrowly, including election campaigns; an awareness of the influences affecting this relationship, from human agency to historical, technological, economic, institutional and cultural factors; an awareness of major approaches to the media, in scholarly and policy terms; an enhanced ability to reflect critically on media output, on the role of the news media, and on politics; and an enhanced range of academic and critical skills of more general application, centrally the ability to locate and interpret relevant information and to articulate findings in discussion and in written assignments.  


The course is taught through 24 lecture hours and 11 weekly tutorials.  Lectures are given by Dr Maria Armoudian and guest speakers from academia and the media.  A lecture programme can be found below.  Some changes may occur as we respond to current events and accommodate guest lecturers but this will not affect the range of topics covered.  You are expected to attend all lectures unless you have an emergency. If you do need to miss a lecture, please communicate with your tutor.

Tutorials will start in the second week of semester, by which time you should know the time and location of your tutorial, having enrolled for one online.  You should attend all tutorials – they provide grounding in academic skills, develop understanding of course topics, act as a conduit for course and exam information, and provide the chance for you to share your views and raise questions.  Your tutor is involved in marking your work so will provide valuable feedback. If you have shown a willingness to contribute to tutorials the tutor may be more sympathetic to requests for coursework extensions and aware of your abilities in the event of a borderline grade needing confirmation.  Get to know your tutor! 

Tutorials begin in week 2 and the tutorial topics run a week behind the lecture topics. For example: in week 2, tutorials cover the lecture topics from week 1, and in week 3, tutorials cover the lecture topics from week 2. Please attend tutorials having read the relevant required reading(s).

Please contact your tutor or the coordinating tutor, either by email or in person, in the first instance if you have any questions, concerns or comments about any aspect of the course.


Course assessment is based on two pieces of coursework (a test in class and an essay assignment, together worth 50% of the final grade) and a two-hour final exam (50%).  Details follow.


Value:  20% of Final Grade

Duration: 50 minutes total

Details: The test will be held at the normal lecture time and place. It will require you to write in response to questions on topics covered in the first part of the course. Further guidance will be given before the test on the structure and how to prepare. Everyone is expected to sit the test. Anyone who for very good reason cannot do so (e.g. medical reasons) must submit an Aegrotat form (see UoA website).


Value:  30% of Final Grade

Length: 1,400 – 1,700 words

Topic: The second piece of coursework is a media analysis assignment.  You will analyse examples of media output (media ‘texts’) and write an essay of up to 1,700 words in response to one question from a list to be circulated.  The assignment should be based on close, critical observation, informed by relevant academic research strategies and readings. The list of examples and questions, along with further advice, will be circulated as early as possible. The assignment should be submitted both digitally (via Canvas) and physically to the essay drop-off box in the Arts faculty reception area in ARTS 1. The physical copy must have a cover sheet, generated on Canvas; see submission guide on the last page of this syllabus. 


Value:  50% of Final Grade

Date:  Time and location to be announced

Duration: Two hours

Details:  You will be required to demonstrate your understanding of the material through both

objective questions and short essays in response to a list of prompts, which reflect the themes and topics covered during the course as a whole.

Plussage DOES NOT apply in this course.

Workload and deadlines for submission of coursework:           

The University of Auckland's expectation is that students spend 10 hours per week on a 15-point course, including time in class and personal study. Students should manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Deadlines for coursework are set by course convenors and will be advertised in course material. You should submit your work on time. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension but you may be required to provide supporting information before the assignment is due. Late assignments without a pre-approved extension may be penalised by loss of marks – check course information for details.

Full syllabus

Course summary:

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