Swansea modules

Year 2 in Swansea - War and Conflict specialisation modules

The specialisation in ‘War and Conflict’ (60 ECTS) at University of Swansea comprises of three modules as well as a thesis/dissertation module. The modules specialises in the theory and practice of reporting war and conflict within nations and across continents. The aim is to understand how such news is constructed, what it offers to its audiences and how it might be improved. 

Module 1 // Risk Reporting // 10 ECTS

This module examines the role the media play in the social construction of risk through case studies of the reporting and representation of war conflict and environmental issues across the globe.

The aim and objectives of the course are:

(i) To develop an awareness of theoretical perspectives on risk society and the role of the news media in facilitating such a society. In order to do so we will examine key points of view for their contribution in developing an understanding of media coverage and representation of risk. In addition, you will need to supplement this knowledge with an awareness of issues in news practice. In other words, risk theory will need to be understood in the context of news practice and performance, so that issues of news values, sources, objectivity and ethics will frame the theoretical approach.

(ii) Second, to develop your ability to analyse and critically evaluate news media coverage of risk and its implications for journalism practice. This module integrates risk theory and journalism practice and is therefore an attempt to understand and evaluate both theory and practice. We will do so by investigating the application of theory and practice in selected case studies.

Module Facts

Semester/term: Autumn
University:
 Swansea University 
Credits: 10 ECTS
Professors: Chas Critcher & Allaina Kilby

Learning Outcome

  • an understanding of risk theo
  • Knowledge of reporting of risk in the media
  • Understanding of the role of the media in social construction of risk
  • Awareness of the relationship between risk perspectives and news value

In addition you should have acquired the following skills: written communication; note taking and summarising; group work and presentation; problem solving skills.

Methods of Teaching

This module consists of intensive two-hour classes each week, with a strong emphasis on independent research and analysis. Teaching of this module integrates lectures and seminar sessions. Extensive student contribution and class discussion will be required, and it is important that students effectively prepare for class each week. To prepare for each class, you are expected to ensure you are up-to-date with readings and complete any exercises that have been set.

Typical Methods of Assessment

Assessment of this module is based on:

  • One feature article of 1500 words (30%)
  • One news story analysis of 1500 words (30%)
  • One piece of investigative journalism of 2000 words (32%)
  • One group oral presentation (8%)

Indicative Reading List

  • Adam B. Beck U. and van Loon J. (2000) The Risk Society and Beyond: Critical Issues for Social Theory. Sage
  • Allan, S., Adam, B., Carter, C (2000) Environmental risks and the media. London: Routledge
  • Allan S (2002) Media, risk and science. Buckingham: Open University Press
  • Beck, U. (1992) Risk Society Revisited: Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage
  • Beck, U (1999) World Risk Society. London: Polity Press

Module 2 // Terrorism, Conflict and Media // 10 ECTS

This module explores various issues associated with the coverage of terrorism and political conflict. It considers theory and case studies; the framing and portrayals of Islam; the role played by social media; peace journalism; the 'national interest' and ethics. The module aims to enhance theoretical understanding of issues in the media’s coverage of terrorism and conflict, and encourages the incorporation of theoretical and analytical insights into the practice of journalism.

The aims and objectives of the course are:

  • To provide students the knowledge and skills to critically examine issues in the media coverage of terrorism and political conflict
  • To make students conversant with a range of different theoretical perspectives on media coverage of terrorism and political conflict through exposure to current research, historical perspectives, debates and contemporary case studies 
  • To allow students to develop an understanding of how news narratives on terrorism and political conflict develop, and the factors that influence their development
  • To provide an advanced course of study that empowers students to critically reflect on their own practice and to use theoretical perspectives to inform their own practice

Module Facts

Semester/term: Autumn
University:
 Swansea University 
Credits: 10 ECTS
Professor: Richard Thomas

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate familiarity with discernible historical trends in the coverage of terrorism and political conflict by the media both within the Anglo-American tradition of journalism and outside it
  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of issues related to media coverage of terrorism and political conflict
  • Analyse factors that determine news narratives on terrorism and political conflict and identify watersheds and turning points in such coverage
  • Demonstrate an understanding of different theoretical approaches to the topic
  • Analyse journalistic practice and identify deviations from best practice
  • Discuss ethical concerns
  • Demonstrate an understanding of alternate journalistic paradigms such as those of ‘peace journalism’
  • Incorporate theoretical perspectives into their own practice

Method of Teaching

Teaching is usually by lecture. However, some sessions involve exercises, discussions or guest speakers and Q/As. Sessions involving discussion may provide a set reading, which it is vital you read. Attendance is compulsory. Learning is a matter of individual research, class participation and discussion and reading, the bulk of which is conducted outside of class.

Typical Methods of Assessment

The module is assessed by two pieces of work:

  • Analytical Essay of 2000 words (40%)
  • Journalism Output and Reflective Essay of 1500 words each (60%)

Indicative Reading List

  • Allen, C. (2010) Islamophobia. Farnham: Ashgate
  • Cottle, S. (2006) Mediatized conflict. Maidenhead: Open University Press
  • Freedman, D. and Thussu, D. (2012) Media and terrorism: global perspectives. Los Angeles: Sage
  • Seethaler, J. (ed.) (2013) Selling warthe role of the mass media in hostile conflicts from World War I to the 'War on Terror'. Bristol: Intellect
  • Whittaker, J. (2003) The terrorism reader (2nd ed.) London: Routledge

Module 3 // Digital War // 10 ECTS

Digital War critically explores the impact of digital technologies. The module explores the uses of digital technology in contemporary conflict, beginning with the 1991 Gulf War which showcased post-Vietnam technology and established a new model of military and media management. It explores how this model was reapplied in Kosovo (1999), Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) and how, with the Web 2.0 revolution, informational control broke down. A new mode of ‘participative war’ emerged, as seen in Gaza, Iraq and Syria. The module examines recent political events and their digital mediation. It also considers how developments such as Wikileaks, unmanned drones and cyberwar have impacted upon global conflict, explores new developments in state and non-state online informational and troll warfare and considers emerging technologies such as soldier-systems, exo-skeletons, robotics and artificial intelligence and their possible future military impact.

The aims and objectives of the course are:

  • To introduce students to the media reporting and management of conflicts, the use of social media in relation to conflicts and the new modes of experiencing and participating in conflicts
  • To introduce students to the military use of digital technologies and the impact they have
  • To consider ongoing developments in digital technology and their military application and significance
  • To critically consider the impact of digital technologies upon the concept of warfare itself

Module Facts

Semester/term: Autumn
University:
 Swansea University 
Credits: 10 ECTS
Professor: William Merrin

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss the historical development of the application of digital technologies in warfare and its reporting
  • Recognise key issues regarding the relationship of new technologies and their use in warfare and its reporting
  • Evaluate different theoretical approaches to analysing digital warfare
  • Evaluate the use of digital tools and technologies used by the military and in war reporting

Method of Teaching

Teaching is by lecture and workshop. The workshop sessions are divided into introduction and exercise or discussion while the lectures including the guest speaker sessions will involve presentation and Q/As. Each session involving discussion will provide a set reading, which it is vital you read. Attendance is compulsory. Learning is a matter of individual research, class participation and discussion and reading, the bulk of which is done outside of class.

Typical Methods of Assessment

The module is assessed by two pieces of work:

  • Journalistic blog of 2000 words (40%)
  • Formal report of 3000 words each (60%)

Indicative Reading List

  • Chamayou, G. (2015) Drone Theory, London: Penguin
  • Kaplan, F. (2016) Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War, New York: Simon & Schuster
  • Matheson, D. and Allan, S. (2009) Digital War Reporting, Cambridge: Polity
  • Merrin,W. (2018) Digital War; An Introduction. Abingdon: Routledge
  • Patrikarakos, D. (2017) War in 140 Characters, London: Basic Books 
  • Singer, P. W. (2009) Wired For War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century. London: Penguin

Master Thesis // 30 ECTS

This module allows students to develop their knowledge and critical understanding of journalism through a sustained piece of independent academic study on a subject of their choice within the field. The dissertation enables students to engage in in-depth research on a topic of their choice subject to the approval of the Department.

Module facts

Semester/term: Spring
University: Swansea University
Credits: 30 ECTS
Professors: Chas Critcher, assisted by several other academic staff members

Learning Outcome

On completion of the module the successful student will have:

  • Developed the ability to research and present an academic essay on a detailed area of study
  • Deepened their knowledge and understanding of the subject under investigation
  • Furthered their ability and capacity for self-motivated study

Method of Teaching

Directed independent learning.

Typical Methods of Assessment

  • Research proposal (2000 words worth 10%)
  • Dissertation (16,000 words worth 80%)
  • Reportage about your dissertation findings (2000 words worth 10%)