Launches Norway's first Master’s in Political Communication
How are social media and lobbying changing Norwegian politics? These will be two of the topics when the University of Oslo starts Norway's first Master’s in Political Communication.
The Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, is reaching voters through social media. Photo: Jørgen braastad, VG / NTB scanpix
The new Master’s has been titled Master in Media Studies with specialisation in political communication, and is the first of its kind in Norway. The study programme starts up in autumn 2019, in the Department of Media and Communication.
"The programme aims to examine political communication in a Nordic perspective," says Professor Øyvind Ihlen, Head of the new Master’s programme.
“We define political communication broadly and are interested in how citizens, political parties, journalists, bureaucrats – in short all political actors – communicate. For example, how to set the political agenda, or how to have specific political issues settled”, he explains.
The Nordic countries will be central to this study programme. The Nordic model stands out, and this makes it both interesting and relevant to compare conditions in the Nordic countries with the rest of the world”, says Ihlen.
“We are interested in having a Nordic perspective, since the Nordic region is distinctive, with small nations, social democratic traditions and an extensive cooperation between trade and industry and political life. The Nordic region is also typified by media diversity and a use of social media that is formidably high compared to other nations.
The Nordic countries are also characterised by a low level of conflict and a tradition of corporatism – a close collaboration between the parties in working life, whereby interest groups get together with politicians and reach agreement. The tradition of corporatism has been particularly strong in Norway, but is now under pressure”, says Ihlen.
“The tradition has been changing over time. Lobbying is on the increase and comes in addition to, or is replacing the channel of corporatism”.
Changed Media Life
The Master’s also looks at how a changed media life has affected the Nordic model.
“Some of the questions we discuss are how the new context, with social media, influences political power struggles. How does this affect politicians’ need to use these platforms? How does the power struggle in society manifest itself when people use social media and you get a hinterland of people who support a different understanding of reality than that which you find elsewhere? The media landscape has changed fundamentally, and these are aspects that will be reflected in the new Master’s," Ihlen says.
The Master’s will have three specific courses in the field of political communication. One deals with the context, i.e. what it means to work with politics in the Nordic countries, electoral systems, the social democratic tradition, and the kinds of media systems we have. A second course will look at opinion-forming processes, and a third course will look at strategic communication on political issues.
“The programme is suitable for students who have a background from media, PR/strategic communications, or political communication at the Bachelor's level”, Ihlen says.
Having a Master’s in Political Communication will prove useful to students when they start working life.
“Knowledge of political communication is absolutely essential for anyone who is intending to work with strategic communication at a senior level in an organization. It is useful to understand how political communication takes place, and how opinion-forming processes and lobbying work.
Many career opportunities
Ihlen believes that this Master’s will offer many career opportunities for students.
“For example, you could work with political communication in different kinds of organization or in the education sector. This is a kind of knowledge that almost everyone in society should have," says Ihlen.
It may be helpful for foreign students to know something about the Nordic Model.
“The Nordic focus is important because it provides grounds for comparison with one's own region, one's own country. The social democratic tradition, low level of conflict and good economic development are aspects of the Nordic context which are interesting viewed from outside, partly because the Nordic model is held up as a possible model for other countries.
Ihlen emphasises that this programme is not intended to celebrate the Nordic model.
“This is an academic study where you look at the pros and cons of this model and observe how it is under pressure”.
The Master’s in Media Studies with specialisation in political communication starts in autumn 2019. The application deadline for applicants outside of the EU/EEA is 1 December, for EU/EEA citizens 15 April, and for Nordic citizens and applicants with residence permits 15 April.