Course Syllabus

Strategic Communication

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Semester & Location:

 Spring 2020 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours:


Major Disciplines:

Communication. Business. Public Relations.

Faculty Members:

Nya Oxfeldt Jensen, 

Program Director:

Iben de Neergaard,

Program Assistant: 

Rodlyn-mae Banting,

Time & Place:

Mondays and Thursdays, 11:40-13:00

Location: V10-A22


Course Description

You cannot not communicate. What you can do is ensure that your communication contributes to meeting your goals, resonates with the audience, and fits the specific context. In present day society, consumers are met with thousands of messages on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the advent of social media means a significant shift in the role of government institutions, organizations, and corporations. Authenticity, trust, and purpose have never been more important.

In this course, we explore strategic communication in an increasingly complex world. Through theoretical perspectives, case studies, and a hands-on project we will develop a deeper understanding of the strategic framework that underlies efficient and meaningful communications. The course includes two study tours, which will allow you to engage in various topics related to organizational, strategic, and personal communication and to meet professionals in the field.

Learning Objectives

After the course, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate general knowledge of communication theory and application.
  • Identify key concepts and central discussions within the professional and academic fields of modern-day communication.
  • Practice critical thinking in order to evaluate communication strategies.
  • Develop a strategic framework for effective communication campaigns.

Core Course Instructor

Nya Oxfeldt Jensen– M.A., Communication and International Development (Roskilde University, 2001); B.A., Business Administration (University of San Diego, 1995).

Certified Strategic Communication Advisor, 2016. 15 years of professional experience from both private, public and NGO's, most recently as a Communication Advisor with the Danish Refugee Council, Denmark's largest international humanitarian organization present in +40 countries.


Content and Structure

The course is organised around three modules:

  1. FOUNDATIONS (classes 1-7) Get to know the academic field of strategic communications – key concepts, discussions, theory, and methodology
  2. APPLICATIONS (classes 8-13) Explore different disciplines in the professional field of strategic communication. Discuss philosophical, operational, and ethical implications of strategic communication in a multi-mediated world
  3. OPERATIONS (classes 14-18) Using the knowledge gained in classes 1-13 through own projects, case presentations and feed back.  

Throughout the semester, short lectures are combined with student presentations, group work, field and case studies, and in-class activities.

Group Work

Participation in group work is mandatory, and your ability to work in a group setting will influence the engagement grade. All students will be placed in two types of groups:

  • Study groups (4-5 students in each) who will prepare a case presentation and post-study tour “lessons learned”.
  • Project groups (4-5 students in each) who work on the final semester project and report.

Grading Elements

Specific assignments and grade rubrics for all grading elements can be found on Canvas.

Class Engagement (20 %) – Attendance, level of preparation and involvement in class activities, and active participation in field studies and on study tours.

Case Presentation (20 %) – Each study group is required to present a communications case that illustrates some of the concepts we discuss in class. The presentation should be analytical rather than descriptive, and you should be able to relate the case to at least two academic sources.

Individual Assignment (20%) – In a 5-page essay, you will be asked to describe and reflect on key concepts discussed in class. The assignment should demonstrate theoretical insights and critical thought.

Semester Project – Final Report (40 %) ­– During the semester, you will work with your project group to create your own strategic communications campaign targeting a real-world challenge. In the final report, you must reflect on your strategic choices and put forth solid academic arguments, including thoughts on target groups, and connect them to theoretical concepts discussed in class.

Mandatory Activities (not graded)

  • Target group interviews – including the preparation of an interview guide (in project groups)
  • “Lessons Learned” – short in-class reflection on a study tour visit (in study groups)
  • Individual short mini presentation on either a successful or failed communication campaign.
  • Presentation of Semester Project – in class

Study Tours

Being a core course, Strategic Communication includes two study tours: A short study tour to Odense and Aarhus (part of Core Course Week) and a long study tour to London.

On the study tours, we take the classroom on the road and meet practitioners working in the field of strategic communications. You will be expected to actively participate in all scheduled activities, engage in discussions, ask questions, and contribute to achieving the learning objectives.

You will travel with your classmates, DIS faculty and staff. While on a program study tour, DIS will provide hostel/hotel accommodation, transportation to/from the destination(s), and approx. two meals per day as well as entrance fees, guides, and visits relevant to your area of study or the destination.

You will receive a detailed itinerary prior to departure. See Course Plan for travel dates.

Required Readings

  • Aronczyk, Melissa: Living the Brand: The Identity Strategies of Nation-Branding Consultants, in: Branding the Nation. The Global Business of National Identity (2013)
  • Bowen, Shannon: 'We are professional manipulators' – PR pros, are we lying to ourselves? PR Week, August 12, 2015
  • Brinkmann, Svend & Kvale, Steinar: Conducting an Interview, in: Interviews. Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing (2015)
  • Cornelissen, Joep: Stakeholder Management and Communication and Issues Management in: Corporate Communication. A Guide to Theory & Practice (2017)
  • Doorley, John & Garcia, Helio Fred: Crisis Communication, in: Reputation Management: The Key to Successful Public Relations and Corporate Communication (2011)
  • Enli, Gunn: The Paradox of Mediated Authenticity, in: Mediated Authenticity. How the Media Constructs Reality (2015)
  • Holtzhausen, Derina & Zerfass, Ansgar: Strategic Communication. Opportunities and Challenges of the Research Area, in: Holtzhausen & Zerfass (ed.): The Routledge Handbook of Strategic Communication, (2015)
  • Keyton, Joann: Introduction to Qualitative Research, in: Communication Research. Asking Questions, Finding Answers (2011)
  • Lakoff, George: Framing 101: How to Take Back Public Discourse, in: Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate (2004)
  • Murphy, Priscilla: Contextual Distortion. Strategic Communication versus the Networked Nature of Nearly Everything in: in: Holtzhausen & Zerfass (ed.): The Routledge Handbook of Strategic Communication, (2015)
  • Neill, Marlene: Counterpoint: PR Practitioners Can Not Afford To Lose Credibility. PR Say, August 19, 2015
  • Phillips, Robert: The Death Of PR. The Only Agency We Need Is Change, in: Trust Me, PR is Dead (2015)
  • Rose, Chris: Communicating with Humans, in: How to Win Campaigns: Communications for Change (2010 [2005])
  • Schultz, Majken: A Cross-Disciplinary Perspective on Corporate Branding, in: Schultz et al. (ed): Corporate Branding. Purpose/People/Process (2005)
  • Tapscott, Don: Four Principles for the Open World, TEDGlobal (2012)
  • Zeynep, Tufekci: It's the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech, in Wired, January 16, 2018

All readings will be posted on Canvas.

You are expected to follow the news and stay updated on current events to the extent that you will be able to discuss these from a communications’ perspective.

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:


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