The Psychology of Political Communication POLITIC5089

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course analyses how the public, media and elites construct, convey and understand political messages.


Weekly timetabling of 1 hr lecture + 2 x 1 hr seminars. According to the provisional schedule, the course will be taught on Mondays between 10.00 and 11.00 and the seminar on Mondays between 13.00 and 15.00.

Requirements of Entry

The general requirements for entry to PGT level.

Excluded Courses





The summative assessment will consist of two essays of 2,500 words. Each counts for 50% of the final mark.

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

Political communication has changed greatly over the last decades with the diversification of political actors, types of media, tools for communication and citizens' expectations. This course uses the lenses of political psychology to explain the role played by personality, cognition, emotions, attitudes and beliefs in political communication. It uses a range of theoretical and empirical approaches in a comparative perspective, over time and across countries. It will focus on the three main components of a communication act: the receivers (citizens and groups), the message (content and form) and communicators (political actors). The course seeks to enhance students' ability to think critically through several psychological frameworks about political communication in contemporary societies.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ identify, conceptualise and evaluate the normative and empirical importance of psychology in political communication;

■ provide a critical understanding of the principal theories, concepts and principles of psychology-based analytical frameworks;

■ develop psychology-based arguments and explanations, and compare these with traditional approaches in political communication;

■ critically review, consolidate and extend knowledge, skills, practices and thinking in the psychology of political communication;

■ applying a range of specialised research in political psychology and techniques of enquiry to explain contemporary processes in political communication.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.