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Digital Era Government and Politics

Key Information

Course details
Option course for MSc, Hilary Term
Reading list
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Professor Victoria Nash, Dr Keegan McBride


We live in an age of enormous change for both government and politics. The past few years have witnessed the spectacular rise of previously marginal political movements in both Europe and the US, which have rocked established party systems and swept away old ways of doing politics. Government structures are also dealing with considerable challenges, from austerity movements which in many countries are entering their second decade to the need to adapt to new technologies and fast changing populations.

Digital technologies form a key part of this contemporary challenge. Social media technologies have, according to some, facilitated the rise of populist and radical political movements, by lowering communication costs and enabling the distribution of new ideas. Data science is also being used to enable new forms of political campaigning (for example, micro targeting of advertisements) and indeed new forms of government (such as smart cities).

This option course will study government and politics in the digital era. Each week will have a 2-hour session tackling a key sub-field of research within the broader discipline of political science, especially as it concerns connections between citizens and the political processes.

Learning Objectives

  • This course aims to equip students to research politics and government in a data-intensive environment. By the end of the course, students will:
  • Have an appreciation of classic theories and debates of political science across a broad variety of sub-fields, such as electoral studies; government and policy-making; and political mobilization and citizen engagement.
  • Understand where the use of data science by political actors is changing politics and policy-making, as in large-scale electoral campaigns.
  • Have improved their critical writing and debating skills through in-class debates, presentations, and formative and summative assignments.


  1. Politics and government in the digital era
  2. The state in the digital age
  3. Power and Control in the Digital Age
  4. Inclusion, representation and voice
  5. Political activism and digital social movements
  6. Campaigning and strategic political communication
  7. Transformation of government
  8. Rethinking Democracy for the Digital Age