Royal Holloway, University of London is one of the major Colleges of the University of London. The University of London is a federal university, founded in 1836. It comprises over 60 institutions of varying size and profile, from colleges with many thousands of students to small research institutes. It is the largest and most diverse university in Britain and one of the largest in Europe. University of London degrees have long had an international reputation for excellence.
Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway now ranks among the top 200 departments of its kind in the world in the QS World University Rankings. The department is positioned just outside the top 150.
In the UK's 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, Royal Holloway, University of London ranked 18th out of 159 UK higher education insitutions for the quality of its research.
More information about the MSc Stream in New Political Communication
Founded in 2008, this Masters programme capitalises on Royal Holloway's distinctive and international research strengths in this field and is built primarily upon the scholarship of Professor Andrew Chadwick and Professor Ben O'Loughlin.
This course is for those seeking to understand the interplay between digital new media and communication technologies, political institutions, behaviour and public policy, with emphases on citizen engagement, mobilization, campaigning, news, journalism, and the role of new media in the global system. The MSc Stream, one of the several taught as part of the Department of Politics and International Relations' Masters programme, combines specialisation in the area of New Political Communication with the flexibility to choose from a wide range of optional courses. A 10-12000 word supervised dissertation is written over the summer. Teaching is conducted in small group seminars, supplemented by individual tuition for the dissertation.
Students on the programme originate from Britain but also a diverse range of countries. In the past few years, students from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, South Korea, Singapore, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey and Spain, have successfully completed the programme.
The presence of so many differing perspectives from around the globe certainly serves to enhance the content of the courses on offer. It also provides all members of the course with excellent opportunities to obtain genuinely global perspectives through regular interaction with other course members. Many of our graduates go on to register for research degrees, both at Royal Holloway and other prestigious institutions in the UK and abroad.
The MSc stream in New Political Communication is ideal (though not necessary) preparation for Doctoral study in the New Political Communication Unit.
Note: this is a course about political, social, cultural and economic analysis. No prior technical knowledge of computers and information and communication technologies is required.
Example Stream Structure
Core Course: Analytical Approaches and Research Skills in Politics and International Relations (Autumn and Spring Terms)
How do we make sense of the world through political analysis? This course provide students with sufficient training to be able to read, interpret, and critically evaluate political analysis. It also equips students with essential tools for conducting the independent study and research that will be part of their Masters dissertation.
Stream Core Course 1: New Political Communication (Autumn Term)
This course examines the relationship between media, politics and democracy in contemporary political life. It focuses on a number of important themes, including theories of media effects, the construction of political news, election campaigning, government communications and spin, media regulation, the emergence of the Internet, the globalisation of media, agenda setting, and propaganda and the role of media in foreign policy and military intervention. The overarching rationale is that we live in an era of new political communication, in which the massive diversity of media, new technologies, and new methodologies demand new forms of analysis. The approach will be comparative and international.
Stream Core Course 2: Internet and New Media Politics (Spring Term)
This course provides an advanced level analysis of impact of the Internet and other information and communication technologies on political life. Drawing predominantly upon specialist academic journal literatures, it focuses on a number of important contemporary debates about the role and influence of new technologies on the values, processes and outcomes of: global governance institutions; public bureaucracies; representative institutions including political parties and legislatures; pressure groups and social movements. It also examines persistent and controversial policy problems: the digital divide; privacy and surveillance; intellectual property issues; and the power of the new media sector in domestic and global economies. The approach will be comparative and international, drawing on examples from around the world, including the developing world, but the principal focus will be on the politics of the United States and Britain.
Dissertation in New Political Communication (completed over the summer)
The dissertation is the culmination of independent supervised research, and should be 10-12000 words in length, depending on the nature of the subject. Choice of dissertation topic is made at the end of the spring term, and each student is assigned a supervisor from the course team. An outline of the project (with an indicative bibliography) should be submitted to the Programme Director at the beginning of the third term. Supervisors and students will arrange for a series of supervision meetings over the summer period.
Free Options (One in Autumn Term, One in Spring Term)
Note: While recommended options, which contain content highly relevant to this stream are asterisked*, you have an entirely free choice.
Contemporary Continental Political Theory
Culture and Community*
Democracy in Comparative Perspective*
Public Policy and Philosophy
Identity, Power and Radical Political Theory
Foreign Policy of the European Union
European Social Democracy
People and Technology*
Politics of Globalization*
Democracy and Politics in India
Contemporary Arab Politics and Society
Media, War and Conflict*
Issues in United States Foreign Policy
Global Political Economy*
Sovereignty, Rights and Justice
China in the World
Comparative Political Executives*
The Politics of Ethnic Multiculturalism*
Democracy and Citizenship in Europe*
Please note that due to staff and timetabling constraints we cannot guarantee that every option will be available every year.
The stream is also offered at Postgraduate Diploma level (full- and part-time) for those who do not have the academic background necessary to begin an advanced Masters course. The structure of the Diploma stream is identical except that students do not write a dissertation. Students who are successful on the Diploma may transfer to the MSc subject to academic approval.
Candidates may apply at any stage of the academic year, though they are strongly encouraged to apply no later than July 1st for entry in September. The standard entrance requirement is a first or upper second class degree (or its foreign equivalent) in politics, international relations or a related social sciences subject. Related social science subjects include, but are not restricted to: sociology, history, communication, law, media and cultural studies, social anthropology, information science, European studies, economics, geography, management, social policy, and psychology. All applications are assessed promptly. Studies commence in late September.
Internet-accessible communication journals are particularly well catered for in the College Library via EBSCO's Communication and Mass Media Complete journals database, covering 600 titles. Access this via MetaLib (on campus only or off-campus via VPN) at this link.
We can also offer research students the latest technology to assist with their data gathering, fieldwork and analysis. This includes Edirol MP3 recorders for interviews and focus groups, and a wireless conference phone for international interviews; the loan of laptops; a digital camera and hard disk based camcorder for audiovisual work and for recording events; a Canon projector for conference presentations; and memory cards. Together with quantitative and qualitative analysis software available from Royal Holloway Computing Services, these resources enable traditional both and cutting edge social scientific research, with media and communication research particularly well catered for.
The College is a subscriber to BoB, an off-air recording and media archive service. BoB is available to staff and students of member institutions of the British Universities Film & Video Council that hold an ERA+ license. This TV scheduling service allows you to record TV and radio programmes that are scheduled to be broadcast over the next seven days as well as retrieving programmes from the last seven days from a selected list of recorded channels.
Students on the programme have access to ColLab - the Collaborative Learning Lab. This state-of-the-art technology-enhanced learning facility is situated in the Moore Annex and is administered by the School of Management. The ColLab offers high resolution plasma displays, document and video cameras, DVD recorders, SmartBoard, tablet and other interactive surfaces, as well as super-quality video-conferencing with recording and archiving capabilities. Using this technology, students can share documents and archives, prepare team project reports and arrange ad hoc meetings in the virtual project space. For more information, see the ColLab site.
Sources of Funding
Our MSc programme is fully accredited by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of its 1+3 doctoral training arrangement.
The Department of Politics and International Relations is a partner in the new (2011) ESRC South East Doctoral Training Consortium. Composed of social scientists from the universities of Kent, Surrey, and Reading, the Consortium funds cutting-edge doctoral students in the social sciences across the South East region and makes high quality training resources, video-conferences, workshops and master classes available to all social science research students in the four institutions. The advanced training element of the consortium’s activities is also linked to the Universities of Essex and Sussex. Accreditation was a highly competitive process, with only 21 consortia securing the status nationally.
The New Political Communication Unit received Royal Holloway's only South East Doctoral Training Consortium Award to be granted in the field of politics in 2011.
If you are considering an application for the MSc as the first year of a PhD and would like to be considered in the Consortium competition for an ESRC 1+3 quota studentship you should contact your potential supervisor no later than January 31, for admission the following September. Please consult the PhD page in addition to this page.
Please note also that there is a range of Masters Scholarships available for international students applying for this Masters programme. Please visit the College's Studentships pages for further information.
Further information is available from the Masters Coordinator for this stream:
Dr Ben O'Loughlin (Coordinator from January 2010)