Politics is not merely about power. Sophisticated politics involves communication, strategy and manipulation of the political agenda. Whether it be a political leader motivating people to follow, a government seeking allies for a policy in the international arena, a campaigner mobilizing supporters, or a high-priced corporate lobbyist explaining a client’s policy to legislators, all political ideas ultimately depend on them being communicated to an intended audience, with precision, efficiency and above all credibility.
What are the appropriate forms of communication for a politician? What forms of ‘spin’ can work, and which do journalists see through? What are effective ways of framing a client’s perspective for government officials, and what are the entry points in the decision-making cycle that makes their communication strategy most effective?
Brussels has emerged as the largest centre for international media, measured in the number of foreign correspondents, which has now exceeded the number in Washington DC. Brussels is also home to thousands of political lobbyists, engaged either as public relations specialists, political strategists, or corporate communications advisors. A recent study of graduates from BSIS who stay in Brussels shows that political communication is among their primary career destination.
Staff and students discuss the MA Political Strategy programme
We are committed to offering flexible study options at BSIS and enable you to tailor your degree to meet your needs. This programme is available with start dates in September and January; full- and part-time study options; split-site options, and students can combine two fields of study leading to a degree that reflects both disciplines.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- the main legal, economic, and political parameters of communication and advocacy in the EU and in global politics
- key historical and theoretical issues in the development of European policy, together with familiarity with appropriate bibliographical sources
- how to apply general theoretical and conceptual frameworks to the analysis of specific issues and problems in domestic, regional, and international settings
- how to utilise qualitative and quantitative research methods and evaluate critically their application in the scholarly literature and in policy papers
- how to design and conduct a research project demonstrating awareness of epistemological and methodological principles appropriate to the subject of that research project
- how to design and write a substantial scholarly paper demonstrating familiarity with academic and professional conventions.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- general research skills, especially bibliographic and computing skills
- the ability to gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources
- the ability to identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems
- the ability to develop reasoned arguments, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement
- the ability to reflect on, and manage, your own learning and seek to make use of constructive feedback from your peers and staff to enhance your performance and personal skills
- managing your own learning self-critically.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- an advanced understanding of the different theoretical perspectives on the formulation and implementation of political and communication strategies
- an advanced understanding of the varied nature of communications and the context-dependent nature of strategic choices for communicating political and social issues
- an advanced understanding of the rhetorical constructions of issues as they relate to the analysis and practice of advocacy and lobbying
- the ability to apply concepts, theories and methods used in the policy arena to contemporary issues and problems
- the ability to evaluate the inter-relationships between the literatures and methodologies of public policy, politics, and international relations and related disciplines, such as law, political theory, economics, sociology and history as they relate to political communication and lobbying
- the ability to describe, evaluate and apply different approaches to collecting, analysing and presenting social and technical information.
You gain the following transferable skills:
- communication: the ability to communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing (including, where appropriate, the use of IT), organise information clearly and coherently, use communication and information technology for the retrieval and presentation of information, including, where appropriate, statistical or numerical information
- information technology: produce written documents, undertake online research, communicate using email, process information using databases
- working with others: define and review the work of others, work co-operatively on group tasks, understand how groups function, collaborate with others and contribute effectively to the achievement of common goals
- improving your own learning: explore your strengths and weaknesses, time-management skills, review your working environment (especially the student-staff relationship), develop autonomy in learning, work independently, demonstrate initiative and self-organisation
- important research management skills include the setting of appropriate timescales for different stages of the research, with clear starting and finishing dates (through a dissertation), presentation of a clear statement of the purposes and expected results of the research, and developing appropriate means of estimating and monitoring resources and use of time
- problem-solving: identify and define problems, explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them
- personal career development: you are encouraged to manage your own career progression and development proactively and are supported in developing skills in researching and retrieving information on opportunities for employment and continuing personal and career development.
The programme aims to:
- provide you with a research-active teaching environment which provides a good grounding in the study of social science in general, in political strategy, and in the communication of political positions in particular
- offer you a critical perspective of the interplay between international relations and European politics as they relate to the process of creating a strategy for dealing with political issues, and communicating effectively the issues and positions on the basis of that strategy, in order to influence outcomes at the European and national levels
- ensure that you acquire a solid understanding of methodologies for the study of social science in general, and in the application of those understandings to the study of political strategy in particular
- ensure that you acquire a solid understanding of major theoretical approaches to policymaking and policy analysis, the historical development of the contemporary European policy landscape, and the application of theoretical and historical knowledge to the analysis and understanding of contemporary issues and cases in the field, with particular emphasis on the manner in which policies, positions, perspectives, and attitudes are communicated
- ensure that you acquire the necessary skills for an advanced assessment of contemporary problems in European politics, society, and economy, and their solutions
- develop your general research skills and personal skills (transferable skills).