Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”


Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription to the ECPR Methods School offers and updates newsletter has been successful.

Discover ECPR's Latest Methods Course Offerings

We use Brevo as our email marketing platform. By clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provided will be transferred to Brevo for processing in accordance with their terms of use.


Visual Analysis in Politics Research

Member rate £492.50
Non-Member rate £985.00

Save £45 Loyalty discount applied automatically*
Save 5% on each additional course booked

*If you attended our Methods School in July/August 2023 or February 2024.

Course Dates and Times

Monday 6 – Friday 10 February 2023
Minimum 2 hours of live teaching per day
09:30 – 12:00 CET

Erik Bucy

Texas Tech University

This course provides an in-depth introduction to the theory, methods, and application of visual communication analysis in politics. You will first learn relevant concepts for studying visual politics, followed by different approaches to sampling and visual analysis at the descriptive level. The course then covers the use of visuals in inferential and interpretive study designs, using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Purpose of the course

Gain a developed understanding of:

  • why visuals matter in politics
  • how to analyse systematically visual and nonverbal elements of news, political events, and leader behaviour
  • what research questions are appropriate to answer with visual techniques
  • how different methodologies can be leveraged to incorporate visual dimensions of news and politics into study designs.

Instructor Bio

Erik P. Bucy is Regents Professor of Strategic Communication at Texas Tech University, where he teaches and conducts research on visual politics, nonverbal communication, and public opinion about the press.

He is the co-author of Image Bite Politics: News and the Visual Framing of Elections (with Maria Elizabeth Grabe) and is widely known for his studies on the influence of visuals in news and politics.


Key topics covered

Although highly memorable and persuasive, visuals are the overlooked element of media and communication in political analysis. This in-depth introduction to visual analysis will allow you to see the relevance of visual and nonverbal communication in your own work, and pave the way to understanding and integrating specifying multimodal study designs.


A review of relevant concepts and theories that inform visuals analysis. On the visual side, these include framing, priming, and information processing; and, on the nonverbal side, emotional appropriateness, expectancy violation theory, and social dominance. We also discuss the relevance of visual literacy and evolutionary theory.


We begin with two analytical challenges: identifying visual frames in different sets of images and coding patterns of nonverbal behaviour in video footage of leaders. We review coding approaches for each data type (visual frames and nonverbal behaviour) and introduce quality control practices, such as variable definitions, codebook development, and intercoder reliability.


We examine qualitative research, derived from open-ended responses to visual frames, across several different policy contexts, including environmental issues, attitudes towards refugees, and public health misinformation. We discuss techniques for performing theme analysis of qualitative data.


We move to quantitative research based on visual data, first showing how to use visual variables as outcomes in descriptive content analyses. We then consider how to repurpose the same data as predictors in inferential study designs, including experimental and time series models.


We turn to the future of visual politics research, exploring the possibilities of computational techniques capable of parsing both still images and video. A brief review of the field identifies relevant conferences, journals and other outlets for work in visual politics.

How the course will work

The course will proceed as a traditional, in-person seminar with lectures, PowerPoint presentations, and student questions-and-answers. To gain the most from this course, read the assigned articles in advance of each class, and practice coding techniques and other modes of analysis after they are introduced each day.

Basic understanding of content analysis and social scientific methods, including surveys, experiments, and focus groups. Preparation for the course requires 5–10 hours of assigned reading.