HFMK03503U Research Design and Empirical Methods - Seminar B: Digital media and political communication: journalism, populism, fake news

Volume 2020/2021

Master in Film and Media Studies, 2019-curriculum


This seminar enables students to design and execute research on journalism and political communication in the digital age. We explore diverse quantitative and qualitative methods and use them for the analysis of journalistic and political texts, active users (followers, fans, voters), and media producers (organizations, influencers, activists). By studying cases on diverse platforms, we ask questions like these: How do political parties and leaders adapt to the online environment and use social and traditional media to communicate with their supporters? Why did populism become so widespread in the digital society? What is fake news and why is it so prevalent in some media systems (e.g., in the US), but not in others (e.g., in Nordic countries)? How does the work of journalists change in the digital network environment? Would influencers challenge the role of professional journalists? Would popular culture genres (e.g., comedies and talk shows) take over important political roles? Why some activists (e.g., Greta Thunberg) or NGOs (e.g., Greenpeace) become successful in communicating climate and other environmental concerns? How do international propaganda and strategic disinformation challenge democratic communication in Western liberal democracies? Why and how are media control and internet censorship maintained in authoritarian countries? The seminar focuses on how we can plan and execute relevant and reliable research projects about these and similar communication phenomena. During the semester you will prepare an empirical research project (alone or in groups up to 3 students), which will be the basis for the oral examination.

Learning Outcome

At the examination, the student is able to demonstrate:


Knowledge and understanding of:

  • the application of qualitative and quantitative empirical research methods to answer a given research question.
  • the theoretical bases underpinning different qualitative and quantitative methods, their respective explanatory efficacy, and how they are embedded in different research traditions.
  • mixed-method strategies, including the use of digital IT tools, their complex interaction, and how they may be applied to different film and media research questions.


Skills to:

  • formulate a research question and develop a complex, theoretical research design that necessitates the application of several empirical methods.
  • use different tools to collect and analyse different types and amounts of data and reflect critically on the tools used and the results achieved.
  • present a research design and argue for the selected methods in both written and spoken forms.


Competencies to:

  • select and combine the right methodological and theoretical tools to address a research question.
  • assess the chosen strategy and the applicability and validity of the research in relation to specific functions and contexts.

plan, conduct and present the results of empirical research based on film and media theory and methodology.


The joint seminars rely on a textbook on research designs and empirical methods. The seminar tracks use academic texts within the particular field that the seminar focuses on. Teaching and readings are predominantly in English.

The course presupposes basic knowledge of qualitative and quantitative methods in film- and media research. If a student is not familiar with the methods beforehand, it is expected that the student acquires
knowledge of these methods on their own during the semester.
Lectures, seminars, in-class participation, presentations, group work, home assignments. In the first half of the semester, the course covers the fundamental stages in research designs. Here, lecturers and seminars supplement each other. In the second half of the semester, the teaching is primarily done as seminars, where students work on their own research projects in groups.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 24
  • Preparation
  • 352,5
  • Seminar
  • 33
  • Total
  • 409,5
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Type of assessment
Exam registration requirements

Active class participation is defined as:

  • 2-3 approved oral or written exercises set by the seminar lecturer (10-15-minute presentation or 3-5 standard pages per submission).
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

https://kunet.ku.dk/studie/film-og-medievidenskab-ka/Sider/Emne.aspx?topic=Find tid og sted&topicId=ef9bedf9-cd3b-41a7-ad09-fc3825b08664#ef9bedf9-cd3b-41a7-ad09-fc3825b08664



Criteria for exam assesment

Links to Curriculums:

Master in Film and Media Studies, 2019-curriculum:



Exams are conducted in English or Danish