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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Technology, Politics and Government (PLIT10133)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines how technology is and can be used both within the policy process and in political communication and more widely in political messaging, for example we will investigate how social media was used in the 2016 UK-EU referendum. It offers an overview of the impact of the revolution in data analytics and the likely impact emerging technologies will have.
Course description In this course we will explore the ways in which policy making has become more technologically functional and we will investigate the likely direction of innovation and future development. The processes of data capture, storage, linking and analysis in the era of 'big data' will be investigated.

We will investigate how social media has been used as a communication tool in both political messaging and campaigning and will discuss the possible impact this has had. We will also look at how political messaging is used by actors such activists and foreign governments and ask how this might impact on policy developments.

We will consider how emerging technologies in artificial intelligence, language processing and data analysis can be used and the opportunities and limitations presented by these developments.

We will identify areas where there has been technological transformation of policy and access to government services. We will look at case studies on how technology is, and will be, used in the delivery of public services.

We will address the issue of public trust in the use of technology and access to our personal data. To this ends we will evaluate and debate data ethics and how this is applicable to policy-makers and to those studying the policy process.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012) OR Politics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates (PLIT08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who lack the compulsory pre-requisites but have completed comparable courses should contact the Course Organiser to confirm if they are eligible to take this course.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 4 Politics/International Relations courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Section for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One analytical essay, 3000 words (60%)«br /»
One methods paper, 1600 words (30%)«br /»
Tutorial participation (10%)
Feedback Feedback on the methods paper will be returned before the analytical essay is submitted.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the main areas of study linked to the use of technology in government
  2. Engage critically with the work of political and data science scholars, and evaluate their arguments
  3. Explain key technologies and formats used in data analysis
  4. Evaluate data and methodologies suitability for answering politically motivated questions
  5. Demonstrate their ability to present - in written and verbal form - coherent, balanced arguments surrounding the ethics and use of data
Reading List
Chen, Y.C. and Ahn, M.J., 2017. Routledge handbook on information technology in government. Routledge.

Gonzalez-Zapata, F. and Heeks, R., 2015. The multiple meanings of open government data: Understanding different stakeholders and their perspectives. Government Information Quarterly, 32(4), pp.441-452.

Heeks, R. and Bailur, S., 2007. Analyzing e-government research: Perspectives, philosophies, theories, methods, and practice. Government information quarterly, 24(2), pp.243-265.

Kim, G.H., Trimi, S. and Chung, J.H., 2014. Big-data applications in the government sector. Communications of the ACM, 57(3), pp.78-85.

Llewellyn, C., Cram, L., Hill, R.L. and Favero, A., 2019. For Whom the Bell Trolls: Shifting Troll Behaviour in the Twitter Brexit Debate. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies.

Tufekci, Z., 2014, May. Big questions for social media big data: Representativeness, validity and other methodological pitfalls. In Eighth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical thinking and analytical skills.
Advanced research skills.
Effective written and oral communication skills.
Autonomy, accountability and working with others.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMrs Clare Llewellyn
Course secretaryMr Ian McClory
Tel: (0131 6)50 3932
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