Faculty of Arts


Media and Conflict

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for POLITICS 212.


This course deals with how media impact life and death issues and how the forces of politics affect media. It explores the relationship between media, genocide, war and peace within a changing media environment, marked by rapid technological and political changes and the growth of new political and media organisations. It examines how media makers—corporations, states, political leaders, advocates and journalists—try to influence constituents, their own audiences and foreign audiences, and how audiences respond. How are wars and peace efforts covered? How are the parties portrayed? How are they represented in mass media? How might the coverage affect life and death? How do media’s structures and norms impact portrayals?

With the traditional roles and relationships rapidly changing, we explore the various ways that media influence the politics of violence, alongside diplomacy, foreign policy, conflict resolution and human rights. We’ll study the factors that help determine the shape of media content—by political actors and leaders, advocates and journalists—and how they vie for audience shares. And we’ll seek to understand processes by which their mass media messages influence our thinking, emotions and behaviours.

Further, we’ll explore how technology has changed media structure, content and impact. Finally, we’ll consider the ethical considerations related to mass media structure, content and delivery.

NOTE: This course will contain emotional and graphic material. If you believe that this material will disturb you in any significant way, please come see me. This may not be the appropriate course for you.

Goals of the course:

  • To understand how media interact with other forces—such as events, institutions, leadership and psychology—to influence war, genocide and peacemaking
  • To think critically about the various relationships between media and foreign policy
  • To understand how media structures and norms impact media content and distribution
  • To think critically about ethics related to mass communication and conflict
  • To consider our own relationships with media
  • To understand the types of media bias and their sources
  • To critically analyse how the dissemination of information, ideas and frames might impact emotions, identities, thoughts and behaviours
  • To recognise strategies used by political actors, including governments to influence media content, their own constituents and foreign audiences
  • To work collaboratively and individually in the understanding of media content
  • To think critically about how changing communications technologies and content shape our understandings about political violence


The course includes 24 one-hour lectures (two per week) and a weekly discussion. The latter will be co-led by the lecturer and class members. You must attend all lectures and a discussion each week, unless you face an emergency or illness that prevents your attendance. In the latter case, you must communicate your situation well ahead of class time. The readings give us a common knowledge basis from which to discuss each week’s subject. You can and should act on your own initiative in locating material that is of interest to you. Please share your discoveries with the class, especially during discussions. We will all learn from each other.


  1. You are expected to show up to all classes unless you are ill or have an emergency and have informed me appropriately, preferably before class. The lectures will include additional material that is not in the readings, and you are responsible for understanding the material in both the lecture and the readings.
  2. I expect you to complete your work on time. Late assignments will be penalised.
  3. You are expected to understand the backgrounds and the role of media in each case that we will be studying. I want you to also understand why, when and how media influence.

View the course syllabus

Availability 2018

Semester 2


Coordinator(s) Dr Maria Armoudian


Armoudian, Maria. 2011. Kill the Messenger: The Media’s Role in the Fate of the World.


Coursework + exam


POLITICS 212: 15.0 points


30 points from COMMS 100, FTVMS 100, 101, MEDIA 101, or 30 points at Stage I in Communications, or Political Studies or Politics and International Relations, or POLITICS 106 and 30 points in Global Politics and Human Rights

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