Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Behind the Headlines
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 1000 word opinion article  OR two (2) Opinion Articles (750 words each)  40%
Semester Assessment Seminar performance  10%
Semester Assessment 1 x 1,500 word headline briefing paper  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 500 word review in lieu of seminar performance  10%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1,000 word opinion article  OR two (2) Opinion Articles (750 words each)  40%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1,500 word headline briefing paper  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

Identify and explain the international political implications of recent world events as reported in the media.

Demonstrate empirical knowledge of a range of emerging and/or recurring issues of relevance to international politics.

Identify and explain the strengths and weaknesses, in terms of content and logic, of media reports and opinion articles.

Analyze and critique the assumptions underpinning reports and opinions appearing in the media.

Demonstrate employability skills knowledge, such as writing/speaking for non-academic purposes.

Brief description

This module provides an opportunity to reflect critically upon developments in international politics in real time. The curriculum is unique because it is necessarily determined by political domestic and world events as reported in the media. The focus is on news and opinions that appear from week to week during the course of the semester, and students develop their skills as researchers, critical thinkers, presenters and writers while becoming more media-aware. Lectures demonstrate the ways in which a variety of academic researchers and public intellectuals respond to world events, and in-depth seminars and other formats support the development of skills to be assessed in the module and provide students with crucial employability skills (e.g. writing of media opinion articles, policy briefing papers).


This module introduces to the teaching program of the Department a real-time experience of the relationship between world events, media reporting, and the academic study of international politics. The module draws on a variety of perspectives from within and beyond the Department of International Politics, as unfolding media content is critically assessed by different contributors. Lectures demonstrate the ways in which a variety of academic researchers and public intellectuals respond to world events, and in-depth workshops support the development of skills to be assessed in the module. Learning activities in seminars and practicals, are designed to encourage students’ intellectual autonomy, succinct writing, and logical argument, and to provide them with basic employability skills on which they can build throughout their studies.

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 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 in which support and assistance is available from both the module convenor and fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and exercising their own initiative, including searching for sources and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their coursework topics.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work electronically through the Blackboard VLE. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web. Students will also be expected to make use of the resources that will be available on the Blackboard VLE
Personal Development and Career planning This module is designed to hone and test skills of use to students in their working lives, particularly in speaking to small groups, listening, thinking and responding to the statement of others. Moreover, the written work includes writing clearly and concisely, which is a common task in the workplace. Students will be encouraged throughout to reflect on their performance and to consider lessons for future application.
Problem solving Independent work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of a range of study skills assessments will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving 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 formulate an answer to the problem; reason logically; construct logical arguments; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills Students will be required to undertake independent research for elements of the assessed work. This will involve utilizing a range of information sources, especially current media sources.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise 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 • Critically evaluate competing perspectives • Demonstrate subject specific research techniques • Confidently write and talk about current subject-specific topics.
Team work Students will undertake team exercises in the seminars and practicals. For the media analysis element of this module, seminars will consist of small-group discussions where students will be asked to discuss as a group the core issues related to the seminar topic. These class discussions and debates form a significant part of the module, and will allow students to approach and examine a given topic through team work.


This module is at CQFW Level 4