Discourse and Politics

Course content

Sociologists differ on what discourse is, yet there is virtually no institution or social practice that is considered out of bounds of discursive analysis. In this class we will critically investigate how discourse is constructed in media, among policy makers and in academic settings. Knowledge about how discourse impacts politics is crucial for informed citizens, policy makers, and intellectuals who wish to influence the construction of decision-making in institutions. This Masters-level course engages students with critical sociological theories and methods for analyzing public debate and political discourse in an interdisciplinary perspective. Students will discover a wide array of theories on discourse and politics including the schools of thought by Alexander, Foucault, and work on Critical Discourse Analysis, and visual analysis. Our readings include current media debates in Europe and the United States, and student presentations and written assignments will critically compare public debate in different national contexts or regions. We trace how journalists, bloggers, or non-profit organizations try to challenge dominant discourse, and we investigate how cultural codes, familiar stories and specific stereotypes shape the boundaries of discourse and public participation. Students will learn to analyze discourse using a variety of different methods including ethnography for the study of face-to-face publics, and comparative analysis to study media and transnational public spaces, online and offline. Students are encouraged to develop their own research projects and will present their discourse analysis in class.



MA course in sociological theory (MSc Curriculum 2005)

MA Theory and Methodology (MSc Curriculum 2015)

Course package (MSc 2015): Knowledge, organisation and politics


Learning outcome

The overall aim of the course is for students to acquire and demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competencies forming the basics of the MA specialization in Knowledge, organization and politics. Students demonstrate these abilities through participation, presentations, exercises, and written assignments, including a written essay (portfolio format).


Through presentations, exercises and written assignments, students should be able to show that they have

- gained a broadly based understanding of and an overview over the interdisciplinary sociological research literature within the thematic field of discourse and politics

- acquired the ability to thoroughly compare and contrast key analytical and theoretical perspectives based on the readings that we discuss in class.



More specifically, the student acquires and demonstrates the ability to

- apply central concepts from the literature within independently chosen, empirically and methodologically informed inquiries into the way discourse operates in specific national, institutional, cultural and political contexts.

This involves to

- develop adequate empirical case studies and critical analytical questions, assessed in written form and to be presented in class,

- perform a critical analysis of these case studies through the lens of relevant analytical perspectives as well as

- to reflect methodologically on their own knowledge production during the case study work.

Finally, students should also be able to

- assess and discuss the practical and broader theoretical implications of their analysis for key actors, issues, and problems within and across different national and cultural contexts and fields of discourse and politics analyzed.


In carrying out the presentations, exercises and written assignments, students demonstrate that they have acquired competencies that allow them to think and write independently. They demonstrate that they are able to identify, design studies of, and analyze case studies and research on discourse and politics in different institutional, political and cultural contexts.      

Lectures, class discussions, student presentations, exercises and written assignments based on the readings. The presentations include project work (either individually or in groups). Students are expected to contribute actively to discussion of core theoretical-analytical tools as well as the more specific analytical examples and case studies. In their written assignments, including the final essay, students are expected to identify their own analytical questions and demonstrate their capacity to critically assess and analyze empirical data based on the examples and case studies we discuss in class. Students should also expect to review literature and assess empirical data besides the course texts. Aspects of conducting literature reviews within the relevant field of research will be taught and trained.

Readings are comprised of peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, activist publications, and occassional newspaper clippings. Students are responsible for approximately 6-700 pages of reading for 7,5 ECTS and 800 pages for 10 ECTS.      

No specific and non-standard competences are required for attending this course. Knowledge of sociological theory and method at (or equivalent to) the BA level is expected.

Dette kursus har adgangsbegrænsninger. Kurset vil som udgangspunkt ikke blive udbudt igen. Du kan således ikke planlægge efter, at det udbydes i senere semestre, end hvad der fremgår af denne kursusbeskrivelse.

The number of lecture hours are the same for both 7,5 and 10 ECTS courses.

10 ECTS:
Lectures: 28
Course preparation:130
Exercises: 67
Exam Preparation: 50
Total: 275

See exam description
Type of assessment
Individual or group. A portfolio assignment is defined as a series of short assignments during the course that address one or more set questions and feedback is offered during the course. All of the assignments are submitted together for assessment at the end of the course. The portfolio assignments must be no longer than 10 pages. For group assignments, an extra 5 pages is added per additional student. Further details for this exam form can be found in the Curriculum and in the General Guide to Examinations at KUnet.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see the learning outcome

See exam description
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Individual/group. Free written take-home essays are assignments for which students define and formulate a problem within the parameters of the course and based on an individual exam syllabus. The free written take-home essay must be no longer than 10 pages. For group assignments, an extra 5 pages is added per additional student. Further details for this exam form can be found in the Curriculum and in the General Guide to Examinations at KUnet.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see the learning outcome

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Course Preparation
  • 97
  • Exercises
  • 70
  • Exam
  • 11
  • English
  • 206