Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
The First Casualty: War and the Media
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Viewing 5 x 2 Hour Viewings
Lecture 12 x 2 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   (1 x 2 hour exam)  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   (1 x 2 hour exam)  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate systematic knowledge and critical understanding of the way in which the media operate in wars and international crises, including the relationship between the military and journalists.
2. Independently apply conceptual and theoretical frameworks in order to further understanding of how the media report war
3. Interrogate critically the media as sources of news about wars and international crises
4. Independently deploy methods of evaluating media reporting of war, through attention to framing, narratives, news agendas, and content and discourses.
5. Demonstrate a detailed and critical understanding of international politics, wars, and crises since the end of the Cold War.
6. Critically analyse how the development of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) has impacted on war journalism

Brief description

This module will examine the role of the mediated and increasingly unmediated news as observer, participant, or catalyst, in wars and international crises. Through a series of case studies from the post-Cold War period (1991 Gulf War to the rise of IS and the Syrian conflict), it will examine the limits of news coverage in conveying complex issues through its concentration on events and human interest stories, often prompting cries to "do something" when doing anything is infinitely more complex than the media can ever portray. The difficulties confronting journalists in dangerous situations, as well as the technical limitations and advantages of the communications technologies they employ, will be examined with a view to evaluation of media performance.


The module is taught through a series of interactive 2 hour lectures. During these sessions the following themes and topics will be explored:

• how the media work; the relationship between journalists and the military;
• is ‘objectivity’ possible in war time; the media and ‘our wars’ versus ‘other people’s wars’;
• communications technologies and controlling the narrative in war-time;
• journalists as participants or observers (is ‘objectivity’ really possible in war time?);
• audience reaction to journalism in wars and crises;
• and the continued relevance of the so-called CNN and Al-Jazeera Effects.

Case-studies examined will include:

• the 1991 Gulf War;
• the Balkan Wars of the 1990s;
• Rwanda and Somalia (“neglected” crises + the CNN Effect);
• 9/11 and the War on Terror (how changes in terrorism are reflected in reporting);
• the “Arab Spring”;
• Iraq, Syria, and IS – the ‘Digital Caliphate’.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number NA
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas in writing; and in lectures they will be encouraged to present their own ideas and arguments. They will develop clarity and precision in their writing, and to write to a word limit (in essays) and under time pressure (in the examination). Students will be required to submit their essays in word-processed format and the presentation of work should reflect effective expression of ideas and good use of language skills in order to ensure clarity, coherence and effective communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the academic staff and the 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 and deciding, under guidance, how to approach their essays. The need to meet deadlines for assessed work will focus students’ attention on the need to manage their time and resources; and the unseen examination will require them to identify specific areas for revision; anticipate questions; and apply their understanding of the material to a previously unknown question.
Information Technology Students will enhance their proficiency using Blackboard, where materials to support learning will be made available. Students will also develop skills in searching for, and assessing the validity of, online information sources as part of preparation for lectures and assessed tasks. Students will be encouraged to find, view, and engage with relevant AV material. Assessed work will be presented in electronic format, according to standard expectations.
Personal Development and Career planning Learning about the process of planning and researching essays; thinking in a logical and critical way about the connections between topics; time management; and writing to deadlines, under pressure, and with a specific word limit will all contribute towards students’ portfolio of transferable skills.
Problem solving The preparation of the assessed essays and the unseen examination require students to: adopt differing points of view; organise data and formulate an answer to the problem; reason logically; construct theoretical arguments; and divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills Students will be required to undertake independent research in order to complete the assessed work and prepare for exams. This will involve utilizing a range of information sources, including the core texts and journal articles, electronic publications, and AV material (available from the convenor and online).
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of skills that are specific to the subjects that contribute to this module. These skills will help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate approaches the relationship between war and the media. Such subject specific skills include: • Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the topic • Evaluate in a critical and logical manner competing perspectives • Demonstrate subject specific research techniques • Demonstrate familiarity with a range of historical and issue-based case-studies • Identify and explain links between the various case-studies used in the module • Develop research and planning skills through preparation for the essay and the unseen examination
Team work NA


This module is at CQFW Level 6