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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Managing Digital Influence (PGSP11391)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryOne of the most impactful effects of easier access to a larger proportion of data on an increasing number of phenomena is the use of rankings to assess all aspects of the performance of products and organizations based on customer feedback. This 10 credits course provides students with skills to (1) develop a comprehensive understanding of the making of organizational reputation indices; (2) compare different methods to collect data on digital influence; (3) capture the effects of rankings on organizations; (4) manage reputation risk in the light of new social media-based ranking systems. Our analysis will start from media ranking and progressively extend to automated ranking systems. The course also offers a tutorial on Using Gephi as a tool for Measuring online Influence.
Course description The advent of web 2.0 and associated technologies has shifted information distribution. Product reviews for instance influence everything from the clothes we wear to the movies we select on Netflix. Similarly, a website's ranking on Google can spell the difference between success and failure for a new business. Online ratings and rankings are seemingly everywhere. But how exactly do they work? And how do organisations respond to these new types of rankings? This course provides students an overview to develop a comprehensive understanding of the making of ranking metrics and compares different methods to collect data on digital influence. Providing a hands-on experience on assessing digital influence we draw on different metrics using Gephi. Lastly we discuss the effects of these rankings to organisations and how reputation risk can be managed to raise awareness to the emerging phenomena of "influencing the influencers".

Outline content

1. Media Rankings
In the first week, we will provide an overview of popular media rankings and discuss aspects of their making.
2. Assessing Digital Influence
We will then describe the different ways of assessing digital influence. One is social, interaction-based model whilst the other relies heavily on the use of social media data.
3. Tutorial: Using Gephi to measure digital Influence
This week, we are using Gephi as a tool for measuring online influence. This practical session should give you an opportunity to engage with social network modelling in order to explain and visualise influence in specific networks.

4. What Rankings do to Organizations
In Week 4 we will discuss what rankings do to organizations, in terms of how external audience react to rankings and the influence of prior rankings on surveys that determine future ranks, the use of rankings to make funding decisions and how activities within organisations conform to ranking criteria.
5. Student Presentations
Students will draw on on discussions about ranking metrics and their influence on organisations to discuss one ranking of their choice. This can be in various areas from product, organisation or person rankings. Presentation should be 20 minutes long and should be supported with Power Point.
Student Learning experience
This is a 10 credits course taught online using Moodle over five weeks through a series of weekly a-synchronous study sessions and synchronous virtual classrooms (delivered using Collaborate). When taken by on campus students, online teaching will be complemented by individual contact hours, face-to-face tutorials and (if applicable) reading group activities to make the teaching experience fully equivalent to on-campus teaching.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 17/09/2018
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 78 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment 1 (30%) Presentation
Assessment 2 (70%) 2.000 words essay
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Knowledge and Understanding of Digital Research - critical understanding the range of theories, principles and concepts available to assess evidence deriving from monitoring digitally derived internet data; - critical awareness strengths and limitations in comparison to other ways of apprehending customer needs;
  2. Applied Knowledge and Understanding of Digital Research - make best use of the results of digital data analytics for service design, marketing and institutional reputation management; - - identify, access and commission on-line data analytics tools and services appropriate to their needs;
  3. Cognitive Skills in Digital Research - evaluate the benefits and limitations of digital data for organizational decision-making; - understand when and how to procure social media data analytics services and how to combine them with existing knowledge practice.
Reading List
Downes, D. (2000). Does BusinessWeek ranking matter? The MBA Newsletter, 8(9), 510.
Espeland, W., Sauder, M. (2009). Rating the Rankers. Contexts, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 1621.
Espeland, W. N., & Sauder, M. (2007). Rankings and Reactivity: How Public Measures Recreate Social Worlds1. American Journal of Sociology, 113(1), 1-40.
Fombrun, C., Shanley, M. (1990) What's in a Name? Reputation Building and Corporate Strategy, The Academy of Management Journal, 33 (2), pp. 233-258.
Reingold, J., & Habal, H. (1998). How we kept the data unsullied. Business Week, 19(October), 94.
Hillis, K., Petit, M., Jarrett, K. (2013). Google and the Culture of Search. New York, Routledge.
Schultz, M., Mouritsen, J., & Grabielsen, G. (2001). Sticky reputation: Analyzing a ranking system. Corporate Reputation Review, 22, 24 41.
Welch, I. (2002). The 2000 business week rankings of business schools: Why they are both harmful and wrong. Available at: «». Accessed 7.11.2006.
Yee, C. (2004). Ranking methods under fire. University Wire, 4(September), 1.


Interview with Espeland and Sauder on Context Podcast (from minute 5):
Webinar on The Impact of Social on the Analyst Industry: A Roundtable w/ Jonny Bentwood, Barbara French, Carter Lusher, and Jeremiah Owyang:
Cornell University study on how Amazon manufacture book reviews:
University of Oxford research on online rankings:

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Gian Campagnolo
Tel: (0131 6)51 4273
Course secretaryMs Maria Brichs
Tel: (0131 6)51 3205
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