Something to See: War and Visual Media (EAF3515)

StaffDr Debra Ramsay - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value
NQF Level
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module will provide students with an understanding of the role played by media industries and technologies in not just the representation of warfare, but also in way wars are fought and experienced. It will enable students to recognise and evaluate conventions of representation across various media forms and technologies. The nature of the topic involves engaging with approaches in media studies, history, sociology and visual culture, and the module will therefore advance skills in critical analysis by requiring students to synthesize interdisciplinary perspectives. Ultimately, the module aims to provide students with the skills to deconstruct strategies of visual representation, and with the tools to decode media discourse in general.   

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Develop an understanding the key debates relating to the dynamics between war and media both historically and in contemporary conflicts.
  • 2. Apply a range of inter-disciplinary approaches and methods drawn from media studies, history and the social sciences to the analysis of media discourse on war.
  • 3. Demonstrate a historically-based, critical understanding of the impact of digital media and technologies, particularly digital games, on the way current wars are understood and waged.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate advanced skills in the research and evaluation of a range of visual media texts, technologies and industries.
  • 5. Utilize a range of primary and secondary material to construct arguments relating to media production and/or content and/or industries.
  • 6. Differentiate between media as history and media history, with an understanding of some of the key issues with historiography.
  • 7. Exhibit an awareness of the relationship between media, culture and politics on a national and international level.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Engage confidently in oral and written communication in seminar work and in written assignments, with an ability to present coherent, balanced arguments.
  • 9. Navigate and effectively synthesize a range of primary and secondary research materials – academic sources, press articles, individual memoirs, ephemera and social media, for example – to inform debate and analysis in written and oral work.
  • 10. Demonstrate technological proficiency by producing and submitting podcasts and/or blogs and/or video essays.
  • 11. In written work, demonstrate advanced competencies in referencing and bibliographic conventions, as well as an ability to write clearly and correctly.

Syllabus plan

Block 1 Photography: Power of the Still

Week One: War photographers of the Crimean War (1853-1856), the American Civil War(1861-1865) and World War I (1914-1918) - including a visit to the Bill Douglas Museum.

Week Two: Photographers and the rise of photojournalism in World War II (1939-1945), the Korean War( 1950-1953) and the Vietnam War (1955-1975).


Block 2 Film: Secret Attractions

Week Three: War in early cinema - Greco-Turkish War (1897) and the Spanish-American War (1898).

Week Four: The anti-war film and the use of film as propaganda in films of World War I and World War II.

Weeks Four and Five: Ideology in films of recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Block 3 Television: War in the Living Room

Week Six: The first ‘television war’ (the Vietnam War) and the notion of ‘event –status’ television in the form of the miniseries.

Week Seven: The 24 hour news cycle and non-western news channels.


Block 4: Digital Wars

Week Eight: Digital games – history and connection to the military

Week Nine: Digital games – war and the notion of play.

Weeks Ten and Eleven: Implications of the digital – helmet cams, YouTube and social media in today’s wars.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled11Weekly 1 hr lecture/workshop
Scheduled22Weekly 2 hr seminar
Scheduled44Film screenings
Guided Independent33Study group preparation and meetings
Guided Independent60Seminar preparation (individual)
Guided Independent15Web based activity, including blogs/podcasts
Guided Independent115Reading, research and essay prep

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short Blog OR Podcast500 words OR 3 minutes1,2,4,5,8,9,10Written and verbal

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Long Blog OR Video Essay301,500 Words OR 10 minutes1,2,4,5,7,8,9,10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutor follow up
Group Presentation 2020 minutes1,2,4,5,6,7,8,9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutor follow up
Essay503,000 Words1, 2, 3,4,5, 6,7, 8, 9,11Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutor follow up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Blog OR Video AssessmentEssay 1,500 words1,2,4,5,7,8,9,10Referral/deferral period
Group PresentationEssay 1,500 words1,2,3,4,5,6,7, 8,9,11Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay 3,000 words1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,11Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Viewing:

J’Accuse (dir. Abel Gance, 1919)

All Quiet on the Western Front (dir. Lewis Milestone, 1930)

The Longest Day (dirs. Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki, 1962)

Saving Private Ryan (dir. Steven Spielberg, 1998)

9th Company (dir. Fedor Bondarchuk, 2005)

Lone Survivor (dir. Peter Berg, 2013)

Kajaki (dir. Paul Katis, 2014)

Restreppo (dirs. Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger, 2010)

Band of Brothers (HBO, Playtone, DreamWorks SKG, 2001)

Generation Kill (HBO, 2008)

Our War (BBC3, 2011)

Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision, 2012) 

Medal of Honor (Electronic Arts, 2010)


Basic reading:


Burgoyne, Robert. The Hollywood Historical Film. Oxford, Blackwell Publishing, 2008. Print.


Edgerton, Gary R. and Peter Rollins, eds. Television Histories: Shaping Collective Memory in the Media Age. Kentucky: The University press of Kentucky, 2001. Press.




Hoskins, Andrew and Ben O’Loughlin. War and Media. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010. Print.




Huntemann, Nina B. and Matthew Thomas Payne, eds. Joystick Soldiers: The Politics of Play in Military Video Games. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010. Print.




Moeller, Susan D. Shooting War: Photography and the American Experience of Combat. New York: Basic Books, 1989. Print.




Westwell, Guy. War Cinema: Hollywood on the Front Line. London: Wallflower Press, 2006.




Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Web based and electronic resources:

Available as distance learning?