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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

Date: Monday 22 – Friday 26 July 2024
Time: 09:30 – 12:30 CEST

Erik Bucy

Texas Tech University

This course offers you an interactive online learning environment using advanced pedagogical tools, and is specifically designed for advanced students, researchers, and professional analysts. The course is limited to a maximum of 16 participants, ensuring that the instructor can address the unique needs of each individual.

Purpose of the course

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

You will 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.
ECTS Credits

3 ECTS credits awarded for engaging fully in class activities.
1 additional ECTS credit awarded for completing a post-course assignment.

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.

Day 1

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

Day 2

Beginning with two analytical challenges: identify visual frames in different sets of images and coding patterns of nonverbal behaviour in video footage of leaders. You will review coding approaches for each data type (visual frames and nonverbal behaviour) and be introduced to quality control practices, such as variable definitions, codebook development, and intercoder reliability.

Day 3

You will 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. You will discuss techniques for performing theme analysis of qualitative data.

Day 4

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

Day 5

Turning 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 online

The course combines asynchronous pre-class assignments, such as readings, as well as live daily 3-hour sessions via Zoom, PowerPoint presentations, and student questions-and-answers. To gain the most from this course, read the assigned articles in advance of each class, and practise coding techniques and other modes of analysis after they are introduced each day.

The instructor will also conduct live Q&A sessions and offer designated office hours for one-to-one consultations.

Prerequisite Knowledge

You will need a 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.

Learning commitment

As a participant in this course, you will engage in a variety of learning activities designed to deepen your understanding and mastery of the subject matter. While the cornerstone of your learning experience will be the daily live teaching sessions, which total three hours each day across the five days of the course, your learning commitment extends beyond these sessions.

Upon payment and registration for the course, you will gain access to our Learning Management System (LMS) approximately two weeks before the course start date. Here, you will have access to course materials such as pre-course readings. The time commitment required to familiarise yourself with the content and complete any pre-course tasks is estimated to be approximately 20 hours per week leading up to the start date.

During the course week, you are expected to dedicate approximately two-three hours per day to prepare and work on assignments.

Each course offers the opportunity to be awarded three ECTS credits. Should you wish to earn a 4th credit, you will need to complete a post-course assignment, which will involve approximately 25 hours of work.

This comprehensive approach ensures that you not only attend the live sessions but also engage deeply with the course material, participate actively, and complete assessments to solidify your learning.


This course description may be subject to subsequent adaptations (e.g. taking into account new developments in the field, participant demands, group size, etc.). Registered participants will be informed at the time of change.

By registering for this course, you confirm that you possess the knowledge required to follow it. The instructor will not teach these prerequisite items. If in doubt, please contact us before registering.