Study programme for Totalitarianism & Transition in Prague

The courses in the Totalitarianism & Transition specialisation will give you a solid understanding of the contemporary history of post-totalitarian countries, and you will work with key issues facing journalism in light of ongoing political, market related and technological transformations. This theoretical knowledge furthermore constitutes the point of departure for the practical courses in audio, video and multimedia journalism production.

Please note that changes to the focus of courses and to the course content may apply.

Media in Post-Totalitarian Countries

Media and journalism and their performance are key issues of liberal democracy. The status of media is therefore a crucial point in the transition from a totalitarian to a liberal political environment. The course "Media in Post-Totalitarian Countries" offers basic knowledge of the development of media in post-totalitarian countries of Central Europe (mainly Czech Republic, but also Poland, Hungary and Germany) from 1989 until now. It supports students' critical approach to reflections on mass media and social media, and on contemporary societies and their political communication.

The course requires some basic knowledge of sociology, social theory and communication science on introductory level, as well as some basic knowledge of European history and popular culture.

Contemporary History of Post-Totalitarian Countries

Since 1989, Central European countries have been committed to the common European values such as liberal democracy, respecting the rule of law and human rights. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary joined the EU in 2004, and referencing Francis Fukuyama, this is the point when history should have ended. However, the success story seems to take an "illiberal" turn – for instance through the monopolisation of media outlets and the popular appeal of authoritarianism. Thus, present political trajectories in the region cause bewilderment in the core countries of the EU. As Jacques Rupnik pointed out in December 2017, "the decoupling of liberalism and democracy in Central and Eastern Europe has a lot to do with the post-1989 confusion, and indeed collusion, between political and economic liberalism". In order to understand this confusion and collusion, profound knowledge of contemporary history of the region is required.

The course "Contemporary History of Post-Totalitarian Countries" provides knowledge of contemporary history of post-totalitarian countries in Central (and Eastern) Europe in order to understand the specifics of its political, socio-economic and cultural developments in the recent past that have an impact on the societies of Central European countries today. The course uses a variety of methodological approaches to deal with key historical and contemporary issues such as the process of nation-building; dealing with the German political, economic and cultural hegemony; expulsion/resettlement of Germans and coming to terms with the past; dynamics of the development of societies in the communist era; achievements and failures of the post-communist transformation; and important recent topics such as the migration crisis etc. Students are expected to work in groups and discuss the issues based on their presentations.

Audiovisual Journalism of the 21st Century

Apart from political and market related transitions, the workflow of current media professionals also faces challenges related to technological challenges and professional convergence. Therefore, being a journalist in contemporary media does not only mean being a writer, a photographer or a reporter. Instead, various multi-media skills are essential, and working with text, photography, sound and video are all part of the basis of journalists' daily work. Being able to report instantly using various forms of media has become natural in the media industry.

"Audiovisual Journalism of the 21st Century" aims to develop journalism and reporting skills. The first part of the course combines excursions to public and private news TV broadcasters and lectures that provide essential editorial and technological knowledge in the field of TV journalism. Within its practical part, the course combines TV studio and field work both with professional broadcast technologies and widely used consumer devices (i.e. smartphones and tablets). Students will work on simulated TV newscasts which will include work in the TV studio, editing news stories and live reporting.

Post-Digital Photojournalism

In light of the political, market related and technological developments described above, the course "Post-Digital Photojournalism" discusses the current situation of visual journalism. With the rise of digital technologies, theoreticians began talking about the death of traditional photography and describing the era as post-photographic. Now, twenty years later, it is obvious that visual messages are more powerful than ever in and beyond political discourse.

This course introduces today's condition of visual journalism and its development in last few decades. Students will learn about the transition from traditional film-based photography to digital imaging to the current post-digital condition. The course also includes practical assignments which will help students understand the nature of problems introduced in the theoretical lectures. Students will try traditional technical equipment, DSLRs, mobile photojournalism, drone journalism, VR journalism, the use of AI in digital imaging, among other things.

Foreign Correspondence

The course "Foreign Correspondence" covers both the very interesting history of the profession, as well as its current situation that is influenced by both technological and economic challenges. The course makes use of the practical skills students gained from the previous courses to simulate the work of foreign correspondents. The students' knowledge about the Central and Eastern Europe region is used in their journalistic stories, thereby deeply grounding their theoretical knowledge.

The course consists of two main sections. In the first section, theoretical approaches are introduced, while in the second section, students are dedicated to their creative work.

Master's Thesis Part 1 & 2

Writing the thesis provides the opportunity to choose a subtheme/region/theory within the wider field of studies to produce an original piece of empirical work.

The master's thesis courses have two main objectives. The first objective is to provide the relevant methodological and theoretical knowledge and skills, at an advanced level, which are necessary for MA students to produce a master's thesis. The second objective is to guide students in developing the core design of their thesis, i.e. their research questions, theoretical/conceptual framework, methods and research design, and textual structure.

The first part of the master's thesis courses consists of seminar discussions and lectures. In the second part, students have individual consultations with an academic supervisor.

Totalitarianism & Transition
Charles University, Prague
Semester 3
  • Media in Post-Totalitarian
    6 ECTS
  • Contemporary History of Post-Totalitarian Countries
    6 ECTS
  • Audiovisual Journalism of the 21st Century
    6 ECTS
  • Post-Digital Photojournalism
    6 ECTS
  • Master's Thesis Part 1
    15 ECTS
Semester 4
  • Foreign Correspondence
    6 ECTS
  • Master's Thesis Part 2
    15 ECTS