War, Propaganda and the Media - HI815

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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7 30 (15)







The aim of this module is to explore the concept of propaganda and roles of the mass communications media in times of conflict. This will involve an historical approach which takes into consideration the numerous theoretical problems associated with the study of propaganda as well as the different ways political propaganda has been interpreted and used internationally in time of war or peace. Using case studies ranging from the First World War to the present day, the aim of the module is to enable students to think critically about the manner in which propaganda is disseminated in wartime and the pressures governments, media organisations and journalists face in times of conflict. The module explores how different types of conflict and changing technology have elicited different relationships between the media, the military and government. The module also examines the impact of the media upon public opinion and the increasingly important part played by the home front in twentieth century warfare.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

3 hours per week

Method of assessment

The module will be assessed by 100% coursework. Students will be required to produce one essay of 6,000 words and give one seminar presentation.

Indicative reading

M. Connelly and D. Welch (eds.), War and the Media: Reportage and Propaganda 1900-2003 (2005)
N. Cull, D. Culbert and D. Welch, Propaganda and Mass Persuasion: A Historical Encyclopedia, 1500 to the Present (2003)
J. Ellul, Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes (1965)
J. Hawthorn (ed.), Propaganda, Persuasion and Polemic (1987)
G. Jowett and V. O'Donnell, Propaganda and Persuasion (1992)
P. Kenez, The Birth of the Propaganda State: Soviet Methods of Mobilisation 1917-29 (1985)
P. Knightley, The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth Maker from the Crimea to Kosovo (2000)
M. Ignatieff, Virtual War: Kosovo and Beyond (2000)
A. Pratkavis and E Aronson, Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion (1991)
A. Rhodes, Propaganda: The Art of Persuasion: World War II (1975)
C. Roetter, Psychological Warfare (1974)
K. R. M. Short (ed.), Film and Radio Propaganda in World War II (1983)
P. M. Taylor, Munitions of the Mind: War Propaganda from the Ancient World to the Present Day (1995)
O. Thomson, Easily Led: A History of Propaganda (1999)
D. Welch, The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda (1999)
D. Welch, Propaganda: Power and Persuasion (2013)
S. White, The Bolshevik Poster (1988)
M. Yass, This is Your War: Home Front Propaganda in the Second World War (1983)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete the module will:
• have navigated a number of sub-disciplines of history, including political, cultural, social, media and military history, and recognized how historians and other scholars have responded to historiographical issue in propaganda studies.
• have produced (and reflected on) written assignments and oral arguments situated within the discourse on the concept of propaganda and roles of the mass communications media in times of conflict.
• have critically analysed the relationship between military and media organisations in the modern age.
• have analysed visual sources including films, documentaries, posters, cartoons etc.

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