Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Age of Propaganda: International Politics and Mass Persuasion in the Twentieth Century
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 18 x 1 hour lectures
Seminars / Tutorials 5 x 2 hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word coursework essay  40%
Semester Assessment 1 x practical coursework assignment (mixed media/1000 words)  10%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   50%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Demonstrate an understanding of key theories of propaganda and mass persuasion;
2. Evaluate the significance of propaganda as an element of diplomatic, military and strategic policy;
3. Identify and distinguish between different forms of international persuasive and psychological operations;
4. Demonstrate an understanding of the historical origins of propaganda as an aspect of international society;
5. Evaluate the role of propaganda and cultural diplomacy in the era of the First and Second World Wars;
6. Evaluate the role of propaganda and cultural diplomacy during the Cold War;
7. Evaluate the role of propaganda in processes of decolonization and colonial conflict;
8. Analyze the changing ways in which propaganda has functioned in international politics since the end of the Cold War;

Brief description

The module will provide an analysis of the development of propaganda, psychological warfare, cultural relations and public diplomacy within the broad framework of twentieth century international history. The module introduces students to the role of propaganda and psychological operations in relation to the major historical events and processes of the twentieth century and encourages them to think, both on a theoretical and a practical level, about how propaganda functions as an element of diplomatic, military and strategic policy.


Lecture Programme

1. Propaganda in Theory & History
2. A Brief History of Propaganda from the Ancient World to the Age of Imperialism
3. Mass Communications & the Media in the 20th Century
4. 1914-1918: the Great War
5. Propaganda, Dictatorship & Totalitarianism
6. The Democracies and the Birth of Cultural Diplomacy
7. 1939-1945: the Second World War
8. Cold War Propaganda & the Superpowers
9. Britain'r Secret Cold War: The Information Research Department
10. The Cultural Cold War
11. Losing Hearts and Minds? The Suez Crisis & the Vietnam War
12. British Propaganda in Northern Ireland & the Falklands
13. Public Diplomacy & the Post-Cold War Era
14. Propaganda, Psyops and 21st Century Conflict

Seminar Programme
(5 x 2 hours fortnightly)

1. Propaganda in History & Theory
2. Propaganda in Practice: Coursework Assignment Workshop
3. Propaganda in the Age of Total War
4. Propaganda & the Cold War
5. Public Diplomacy & Propaganda in the Modern World


The module will introduce students to the psychological, ideological and cultural dimension of international relations through a number of historical case studies and theoretical discussions. It complements existing modules and builds on recent historiographical and methodological developments in the field of International History.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to how to present their arguments most effectively. They will understand the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to best advantage. They will learn to be clear in their writing and speaking and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Seminars will be run in groups where oral discussion and presentations will form the main medium of teaching and the emphasis throughout the module will be on student participation and communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the convenor and fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and to exercise their own initiative, including searching for sources, compiling reading lists, and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their essay and presentation topics. The need to conduct a seminar presentation and to meet an essay deadline will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources (such as Web of Science and OCLC). Students will also be expected to make use of the resources that will be available on the Blackboard VLE. Some students may decide to employ electronic media for the coursework propaganda assignment.
Personal Development and Career planning The discussions in particular will help to develop students' verbal and presentation skills. Learning about the process of planning an essay and a presentation, framing the parameters of the projects, honing and developing the projects and seeing through to completion will contribute towards their portfolio of transferable skills.
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of an essay will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The need to research and prepare seminar presentations will also enable students to develop independent project skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of students' ability to work alone can be undertaken.
Research skills The submission of an essay will reflect the independent research skills of students. The need to locate appropriate research resources and write up the results will also facilitate research skills. Research preparation for a seminar presentation will also enable the student to develop independent project skills. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of the student¿s ability to work alone can be undertaken.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualize and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: - Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module - Ability to evaluate competing perspectives - Demonstrate subject specific research techniques - Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical and political problems
Team work Seminars will consist in part of small-group discussion where students will be obliged to discuss as a group the core issues related to seminar topics. Such class room debates and discussions are a vital component of the module learning experience.


This module is at CQFW Level 6