Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: History


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap n/a Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least ONE level one module in History.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • Introduce students to the relationship between the media and conflict in a historical context, analysing the methods, reception and the use of propaganda and persuasion in modern warfare.
  • allow students to critically analyse the complex relationship between the state and the media at times of crisis, adding a crucial perspective to studies of modern European history (particularly, but not exclusively, European history).
  • give students the opportunity to work with different forms of historical evidence, in an environment designed to foster a critical awareness of varied primary source materials.
  • Contribute towards the achievement of the Department's generic Aims for study at Level 2.


  • In the conflicts of the twentieth century, propaganda was considered to be the 'fourth arm' of modern warfare.
  • Many Military and political leaders believed that, in order to win battles in the field, governments first needed to win the battle for 'hearts and minds'.
  • This course seeks to analyse the complex historical relationship between modern warfare, propaganda and persuasion in Europe, focussing on the major conflicts of the twentieth and Twenty-first centuries, such as the First and Second World Wars and the inter-war period, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and, finally, the conflict in Iraq and the 'war on terror'.
  • Students will gain an understanding of the changing methods of modern propaganda, how propaganda is disseminated and received and the historiographical trends in this rich field of academic debate.
  • We will analyse the use of a wide variety of communications used by wartime propagandists such as fine art, posters, cartoons, the press, radio, music, film and television to name but a few.
  • The course will add a new dimension to study into European, American and British history, and is suitable for those with an interest in the development of the mass media as a tool for communication at times of national and global crisis.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • have a subject specific knowledge relating to the theories, methods and use of propaganda and persuasion in times of conflict in Twentieth-century history, with particular reference to Europe and the United States.
  • Understand and appreciate the value of propaganda as an historical source.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Student learning is facilitated by a combination of the following teaching methods:
  • lectures to set the foundations for further study and to provide the basis for the acquisition of subject specific knowledge. Lectures provide a broad framework which defines individual module content, introducing students to themes, debates and interpretations. In this environment, students are given the opportunity to develop skills in listening, selective note-taking and reflection;
  • seminars to allow students to present and critically reflect upon the acquired subject-specific knowledge, methodologies and theories, and to identify and debate a range of issues and differing opinions. The seminar is the forum in which students are given the opportunity to communicate ideas, jointly exploring themes and arguments. Seminars are structured to develop understanding and designed to maximise student participation related to prior independent preparation. Seminars give students the opportunity to develop oral communication skills, encourage critical and tolerant approaches to reasoned argument and historical discussion, build the students' ability to marshal historical evidence, and facilitate the development of the ability to summarise historical arguments, think in a rapidly changing environment and communicate in a persuasive and articulate manner, whilst recognising the value of working with others and, occasionally, towards shared goals.
  • Assessment:
  • Unseen Examinations test students' ability to work under pressure under timed conditions, to prepare for examinations and direct their own programme of revision and learning, and develop key time management skills. The unseen examination gives students the opportunity to develop relevant life skills such as the ability to produce coherent, reasoned and supported arguments under pressure. Students will be examined on subject specific knowledge;
  • Summative essays remain a central component of assessment in history, due to the integrative high-order skills they develop. Essays allow students the opportunity to recognise, represent and critically reflect upon ideas, concepts and problems; students can demonstrate awareness of, and the ability to use and evaluate, a diverse range of resources and identify, represent and debate a range of subject-specific issues and opinions. Through the essay, students can synthesise information, adopt critical appraisals and develop reasoned argument based on individual research; they should be able to communicate ideas in writing, with clarity and coherence; and to show the ability to integrate and critically assess material from a wide range of sources.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 19 Weekly in Terms 1 & 2 1 hour 19
Seminars 6 3 in Term one, 3 in Term two 1 hour 6
Online Duo contact 1 1 hour 1
Revision Sessions (online) 2 1 hour 2
Preparation and Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essays Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay 1, not including footnotes and bibliography 2000 words 50%
essay 2, not including footnotes and bibliography 2000 words 50%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
unseen examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University