Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo / Portale Web di Ateneo


Communication, Opinion Poll and Democracy
Comunicazione, sondaggi e dibattito pubblico

A.Y. Credits
2020/2021 9
Lecturer Email Office hours for students
Luigino Ceccarini Every week in both semester: after class or by appointment
Teaching in foreign languages
Course with optional materials in a foreign language English
This course is entirely taught in Italian. Study materials can be provided in the foreign language and the final exam can be taken in the foreign language.

Assigned to the Degree Course

Political Science, Economics and Government (L-36)
Date Time Classroom / Location
Date Time Classroom / Location

Learning Objectives

The course deals with the relationship between public opinion and democracy, with respect to theories, concepts, methods and techniques of analysis.

For this purpose, diverse definitions and main theories of public opinion will be taken into account. These elements will be put in relation with different political actors (parties at first) of the representative democracy and with its metamorphosis: from the “Party Democracy” to the “Audience Democracy”, and then to the “immediate democracy” at the time of social networks.

The course, moreover, will retrace the methods of analysis and measurement of the public opinion, paying particular attention to the opinion surveys. To this respect, both the degree and the limits of the population sample representativeness, and the way the outcomes are communicated will be discussed. The approach of studying society by using collection and analysis of digital and big data will also be considered and discussed.  

The underlying perspective is to understand the idea of public opinion as something different from a “given” and univocal fact, but rather as a social and political construction, to which many actors indeed contribute: politicians, a hybrid media system, pundits, pollsters, political consultants, researchers, but even political parties, pressure groups and social movements.


The course will be structured into three parts and deal with the following points. Besides, it includes seminars involving scholars and pundits.

First part

1.  The concept and the conceptions of public opinion. Theoretical traditions and empirical forms;

2.  Public opinion and democracy: the metamorphosis. From the “Party Democracy” to the “Audience Democracy”;

3.  Public opinion and post-representative politics. The “immediate democracy” at the time of social networks;

Second part

4.  Methods and tools for public opinion analysis

5.  Opinion polls, opinions and reality

6.  Studying society through digital data

7. Public opinion as a social construction

Third part

8.  Issues related to public discussion: fake news, misinformation, echo chambers and the filter bubble

9. Public opinion, voting choice and voters

10. Democracy in the age of the Internet

Bridging Courses

No bridging courses are needed.

Learning Achievements (Dublin Descriptors)

Knowledge and understanding. The course is aimed at transferring to the students the knowledge about the paradigms of analysis and the basis of the main approaches to the study of Public Opinion. In particular, it is intended to intertwine the diverse media with the different types of Public Opinion and of Democracy. Particular attention will be devoted to the methods of survey and “building” of Public Opinion: then, to the analysis of the media and of the polls. The course will adopt different methods of educational work in order to attain these objectives, such as: frontal lectures on basic topics, use of visual materials, as well as the analysis and the checking of the survey instruments: in particular, the polls. For this purpose, meetings and debates with scholars and professionals in this domain are planned: researchers, professors, journalists, pollsters will be involved.

Applying knowledge and understanding. Students will have to acquire the basic competences about the main perspectives and meanings of Public Opinion. Moreover, they are expected to acquire a certain degree of familiarity with the channels of Public Opinion communication and survey: the media and the polls. The course will adopt different methods of educational work in order to attain these objectives, such as: frontal lectures on basic topics, use of visual materials, in-depth seminars and experimentations with colleagues and specialists of opinion polls and with media professionals, both from Italy and from abroad.

Making judgments. Students, at the end of the course, will have to show their capacity to correlate concepts, methods, techniques concerning Public Opinion analysis. For this purpose, the students will be involved in working seminars concerning issues debated on the media and through opinion polls. To this end, surveys and analysis will be reviewed, sometimes at the presence of their authors. The aim will be that of checking but also of critically assessing categories, methods, results, interpretations.

Communication skills. Students are expected to dispose, at the end of the course, of adequate skills in the use of the scientific language and in the presentation, as well as in the discussion, of survey’s results, in the occasion of seminars. To this end, classroom-taught lessons will be held, together with seminars and group works, which will allow students to experiment and improve their communication skills on these topics.

Learning skills. Students will have to develop adequate learning competences in order to widen the skills acquired through the course, in relation to other sectors and other places in the domain of Public Opinion, not only within the university context but also in the media and in the public opinion surveys.

Teaching Material

The teaching material prepared by the lecturer in addition to recommended textbooks (such as for instance slides, lecture notes, exercises, bibliography) and communications from the lecturer specific to the course can be found inside the Moodle platform › blended.uniurb.it

Supporting Activities

Online and onsite seminars with professionals and pundits as speakers and workshops.

Teaching, Attendance, Course Books and Assessment


PowerPoint slides will be used during class. Case studies and specific opinion poll outcomes published on national and international media will be discussed. 


Class attendance is not required. Attendance is recommended, and students who will attend for at least 75% of the class hours will be considered "attending student". 

Course books

Materials in the English language will be defined in agreement with each student.


Students can choose between two different exam methods:

1) oral examination. This is recommended to students who do not attend lectures or participate only occasionally.

2) Written examination at the end of the course. Available for students who regularly attend class, seminars and discussion. The date will be agreed with the students attending the lectures.

Both for the written exam and the oral one, the main evaluation criteria are:

  • Students’ capacity to clearly define the main theories and concepts of the discipline;
  • The degree of articulation of their answers and arguments;
  • Their capacity to critically assessing the concepts and of analyzing socio-political facts and events through the theoretical instruments proposed in the course.


    Additional Information for Non-Attending Students


    Studying the text book as indicated below


    Class attendance is not required. Attendance is recommended, and students who will attend for at least 75% of the class hours will be considered "attending student". 

    Course books

    Bibliographies in English will be defined in agreement with each student.


    Oral examination at the end of the course according to the university calendar.


    This is a "supported course". Students are able to request to sit the final exam in English studying material written in this language upon agreement with the professor.

    « back Last update: 15/07/2020


    Questo contenuto ha risposto alla tua domanda?

    Il tuo feedback è importante

    Raccontaci la tua esperienza e aiutaci a migliorare questa pagina.

    Se sei vittima di violenza o stalking chiama il 1522

    Il 1522 è un servizio pubblico promosso dalla Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri – Dipartimento per le Pari Opportunità. Il numero, gratuito è attivo 24 h su 24, accoglie con operatrici specializzate le richieste di aiuto e sostegno delle vittime di violenza e stalking.

    Posta elettronica certificata



    Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo
    Via Aurelio Saffi, 2 – 61029 Urbino PU – IT
    Partita IVA 00448830414 – Codice Fiscale 82002850418
    2022 © Tutti i diritti sono riservati