IRD 3041: Propaganda, Scandal and Media



Fridays, 12 - 2pm; Creative Hub rm. 302


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Propaganda, Scandal and Media: these three terms are bound to each other today as they have been in the past often mediated by class, social standing, rank or insurgent social and political movements and come to public notice in the press or via radio and TV and now through various newsfeeds and social media. Propaganda can perhaps change social or cultural values or even the government of a country and scandal can ruin individuals or organisations but the latter equally can enhance the recognition and/or fame or a person or group thereby attracting money and support.


In this module we can hopefully explore, analyse and explain how these phenomena interact or at times destroy each other...or perhaps become irrelevant where attitudes change so comprehensively that people do not care - they cannot be scandalised or at best have to pretend to be so to retain an illusion of having moral standards. In this sense we open up the question of whether scandal and propaganda are the means of a modernist conception of social, cultural and political propriety as opposed to a liquid in-flow and outflow of images of value that might underpin a post-modernist idea of scandal and propaganda.


Where propaganda and scandal (P&S) have effect they have power but what are its forms? Coercion? Blackmail? manipulation? We need to look at the modes of power to get a grip on why P & S have been used and how they have been deployed to refigure politics and society. To this end we will do a little work on the high point of propaganda and scandal in England in the 18th century and on the working class press of the 19t century. However with the age of mass audio-visual media in the 20th C the circulation of P & S can go worldwide or at least nationwide - the phenomenon of 'media visibilty'; here the classic case is surely the Profumo scandal of 1963.


At a much more structural level we will, largely in the Easter term, focus on propaganda in the Cold war and how it was used in various and often quite subtle forms to present the Cold war conflict not only as economic and political difference but also in terms of competing cultural ideologies that encompass literary and artistic freedom.




Lecture List: Autumn term.

Wk 1) 5.10.18                         Intro to the Module


Wk 2) 12.10.18                       Meaning of Propaganda, scandal and biased information + Lecture Notes


Wk 3) 19.10.18                       The meaning of Scandal - a critique of Thompson on Scandal


Wk 4) 26.10.18                       The meaning of power: force, manipulation, coercion and their means + Lecture notes


Wk 5) 2.11.18                         Theories of propaganda as a function of mass society + Lecture Notes


Wk 6) 9.11.18                         Why is propaganda so closely connected to the media? + Lecture Notes +


Wk 7) 16.11.18                       Workshop/analysis.


Wk 8) 23.11.18                       Culture, Media and Propaganda: the shaping of cultural consensus - Adorno


Wk 9) 30.11.18                       Diffuse agencies of propaganda – Foucault's analytics of power


Wk 10) 8.12.18                       Party politicks and satire of the 18th century + Lecture Notes



Wk 11) 15.12.18                     Analyzing Propaganda - Semiotics and Discourse



Spring term


wk 1) 11.1.19              The ‘Radical’ press as anti-government propaganda – 19th century and the rise of a working class press:

                                    educative or entertaining


wk 2) 18.1.19              Newspapers and TV and the Construction of Bias as Propaganda.



wk 3)  25.1.19             Propaganda and government public information

               Links: Genres of Public Information Films


               Complete collection of all COI films for viewing fascinating.  a) Coughs and Sneezes; b) Pedestrian Crossings;

               c) Peace pays for war-time;

               d) Suez; e) Police; f) jobs for the girls; g) Water Horror; g) Privatisation

               Useful links for discussion of Propaganda and american PFIs

               Recent concern about Welsh Govt spending on ‘propaganda’ video

               Useful article on COI work (from a conference flyer)

               Article from BFI on british film in 40s showing how films were underpinned by propaganda aspcts.

               I know it is a wkipedia article (but quite good) on the classic US ‘what to do in the event of nuclear attack’

                                    PFI called ‘Duck and Cover’.



wk 4) 1.2.19                Using analytical methods


wk 5) 8.2.19                Propagandists of fascism and communism in the inter-war period pt 1 + Lecture notes


wk 6) 15.2.19              Propagandists of fascism and communism in the inter-war period pt 2 + Lecture notes


wk 7) 22.2.19              Preparation/Tutorials



wk 8) 1.3.19                Radio  wars: Radio Moscow and Voice of America: Cold War Culture and Conformism:

                                    Lecture Notes

                                    Reading: here

                                    Frances Stonor article in New Statesman on CIA and Encounter

                                    Short encyclopaedia piece on ‘Encounter’ Magazine and Propaganda

                                    Another piece by Giles Scott on ‘Encounter’                                  

                                    here (on western values as broadcast by Radio Liberty and

                                    here (on Cold War broadcasting to USSR)

                                    and this excellent essay: here

                                    Radio Call signs from the Cold War

                                    US Foreign Service analysis of Soviet Radio reporting of Prague Spring 1968 



wk 9) 8.3.19                Controlling the message? Vietnam and Falklands + Lecture notes



wk 10) 15.3.19            Advertising and Spin as propaganda + Lecture Notes



wk 11) 22.3.19            Scandal, Sex and Spies - the Profumo affair



wk 12) 29.3.19            Scandal, Politicians and money in brown envelopes



wk 13) 5.4.18              Essay preparation/Tutorials





Indicative Reading:

Blumler, J./Gurevitch, M. 1995. The Crisis of Public Communication. London: Routledge.

Braeder, Ted (2006) Campaigning for Hearts and Minds: How Emotional Appeals in Political Ads Work (Studies in Communication, Media, and Public Opinion). Chicago: The University of Chicago

Calhoun, Craig. (ed.) 1992. Habermas and the Public Sphere. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Fishkin, James (1997) The Voice of the People. Public Opinion & Democracy. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Garnham, Nicholas (1990) The Media and the Public Sphere. In Garnham. Capitalism and Communication. London: Sage.

Gibson, R. and Ward, S.  (eds.) (2000), Reinvigorating Democracy: British Politics and the Internet, Ashgate.

Habermas, Jurgen. 1989. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Cambridge: Polity Press. 

Hacker, K.L./van Dijk, J. (eds.) 2000. Digital Democracy: Issues of Theory and Practice. London: Sage.

Jones, Nicholas (1999) Sultans of Spin. The Media and the New Labour Government. London: Orion Books.

Jowett, Garth, (2006) Propaganda and persuasion, 4th ed, Sage Publications, Inc

Kavanagh, D. (1995)  Election Campaigns: The New Marketing of Politics, Blackwell.

Kavanagh, Dennis (1995) Election Campaigning. Oxford: Blackwell.

Keane, J. 1991. The Media and Democracy. London: Verso.

Knightley, Phillip 1927, (2004) The first casualty: the war correspondent as hero and myth-maker from the Crimea to Iraq, [3rd ed., The Johns Hopkins University Press

 Lathrop, Douglas (2003) The Campaign Continues: How Political Consultants and Campaign Tactics Affect Public Policy. Westport: Praeger

Lillker, Darren (2006) Key Concepts in Political Communication , London: Sage

McNair, B. (2007) Introduction to Political Communication. London: Routledge.

Moorcraft, Paul L, (2008) Shooting the messenger: the political impact of war reporting, 1st ed., Potomac Books

Negrine, Ralph. 1989. Politics and the Mass Media in Britain. London: Routledge.

Negrine, Ralph. 1996. The Communication of Politics. London: Routledge.

Seaton, Jean (ed.). 1998. Politics and the Media. Harlots and Prerogatives at the Turn of the Millenium. Oxford: Blackwell.

Splichal, Slavko (ed.). 2001. Public Opinion & Democracy. Vox Populi – Vox Dei? Cresskill. NJ: Hampton Press.

Thomson, Oliver, (1999) Easily led: a history of propaganda, illustrated edition, Sutton Publishing Ltd

War and the Media: Propaganda and Persuasion in the gulf. Manchester University





Failed course work does not automatically attract an invitation to ‘resit’ it by the end of June.


All written assignments should be handed in to the Turnitin.


Referral and Deferral

Referred assessments are those where a student is permitted to retake assessment for the module as a second attempt following initial failure (F+ or below). In these circumstances, the maximum grade is D-.


Deferred assessments are those where a student is permitted to take assessment for the module at a later opportunity, for example as a result of a decision by the mitigating circumstances panel. In these circumstances, there is no constrait on the grade.



Extensions are given at the discretion of tutors and evidence is likely to be required for requests. Extensions must be requested at least two days before the assessment deadline and can only be given for a maximum of two weeks.


Late submission

Assessments submitted after the deadline, where an extension has been agreed, are subject to the following penalties:

Submitted within one week of the deadline – maximum grade of D- 

Submitted later than one week of the deadline – referred (i.e. ‘failed’).

Referred assessments: Any item of assessment which has been referred either as graded below a D- on the first attempt, submitted more than one week after the deadline, or not submitted at all may be ‘replaced’ by an alternative assessment with new deadlines (see below), but with a maximum grade of D-. Extensions may be granted to referred assessments (based on the usual extension rules, see above); but late submission without extensions of referred assessments will be graded G

Deferred assessments: Any item of assessment which has been deferred may be ‘replaced’ by an alternative assessment with new deadlines (see below), with no constraint on the grade.





You need to achieve a mark of D- or above to pass each item of assessment.

When you re-sit an assignment your grade is capped at D-.

Assessment Activity 2018-19

Learning Outcomes









Hand-in /resit dates



2000-word essay

a, c, d, f


10th May

13th June



2000 word analysis of an artefact as 'propaganda' e.g. a building or a song.

b, c, e, f


8th March

Resit: 20th May



Essay title:

1)    Is there any difference between propaganda, bias, spin, and ideology?

2)    Critically evaluate the literature on the meaning of the term ‘propaganda and develop your own theory of propaganda.

3)    Why has mass society theory often been linked to the idea of propaganda?

4)    ‘Great literature and propaganda are not at odds with each other’ Discuss this proposition in the context of 18th century literary politics.

5)    In what ways did the radical press of the 19th century provide a platform for populist proletarian propagandistic politics?

6)    ‘Broadcasting from the early years of the BBC through George Orwell’s 1984 to the Hutton Inquiry, has been properly seen as having an undemocratic underbelly’. Discuss.

7)    Is it the character of political parties and of government rarely to inform the public but always to try to shape their opinions?

8)    In the 20th century how has art, music, architecture been used for political propaganda? (you can refer to all or any of these)

9)    Have the Critical Theorists provided us with a successful analysis of the workings of capitalism and mass culture as propaganda?

10) Was the Cold War period a high point of the practice of political propaganda to reshape attitudes rather than to effect wholesale regime change or promote war?

11) How do you try to get a population to support a war that is dividing opinion?

12) ‘Fear of criticism and shame will cause even powerful organizations to try to spin their way out of it’. In the light of this suggestion, was the response of the police to the Hillsborough disaster reasonable?

13) What is the relation between propaganda and ethics?

14) Was the underground magazine of the 1960s counter-culture an information hub for a rarefied culture, or propaganda for a life of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll?

15) Does Fascism and/or Communism need to use propaganda more than democratic societies

16)  In the age of instant information that is discarded when another bit of information pops up, are deliberate attempts at propaganda useless?

17) Do media campaigns win elections? (try to make some reference to politics beyond the UK)

18) What kind of analysis of power can best analyse the operation of propaganda?

19) Develop your own essay question on a topic of your choice and answer it (but talk it through with me first)



The Project piece (2000 words): Using primary source(s) explain how propaganda is put together and aims to be effective.

This should be a piece of work (in effect an essay) that demonstrates an analysis of primary sources which you have obtained from your own original research e.g. a survey of public opinion, or from sources such as TV/Radio broadcasts, the press, Youtube, websites, blogs, cultural phenomena e.g. paintings, buildings, music, posters, novels/poetry.

Your work will attract marks if you:

Clearly set out the aim and purpose of your work – a clear statement of the problem you are tackling and why this problem has significance

Show some use of analytical methods such as content analysis, discourse analysis, semiotics, visual ethnography, ethnography/qualititative methods, quantitative methods/statistics…

Criticise existing relevant literature

Run an argument – develop and draw out logically your own ‘take’ on the problem you are addressing i.e. what is YOUR answer – YOUR thesis about the issue at hand? (as opposed to merely evaluating what others have said or compiling a set of facts and points.)




No matter which subjects you are studying, the assignments you produce should represent your own response to a question or analysis of a specific subject or theme. They must not simply involve the reproduction of material from lectures, textbooks or other sources. In producing assignments you will be expected to read widely because one of the marks of good scholarship in a written piece is that the writer has paid full attention to the findings and opinions of other scholars who have written about the same subject matter. You may build on the achievements of others or may reject their conclusions and offer an alternative analysis, but in either case, it is important that all mention of the work of others is properly acknowledged. Academic convention requires that when you use the ideas, quotations, statistics or material from others, you must acknowledge it so that the reader is aware of your sources.


Passing off another person’s work as your own is called plagiarism. This is a form of literary theft and is immoral. The University has a strict policy about plagiarism (see Section headed ‘Plagiarism’) and it should be avoided at all costs. The best way to avoid any possible accusation of plagiarism is to ensure that all ideas, comments, opinions, data, etc obtained from another person’s work (whether quoted exactly or put into your own words) are properly acknowledged.


The most important reason for correctly referencing any mention of another person’s work is, however, to enable the reader to trace and study that work for him/herself. This enables the reader not only to verify the statements that have been made about the original work, but also to consider the original author’s arguments as first presented.


This then allows the reader to make a better evaluation of the arguments being presented in the new work.


Several methods are available for correctly referencing the works of others and students should consult Subject Booklets for the method to be used in different subject areas. Within sociology and politics we require students to follow the Harvard system. A very full and informative booklet on the Harvard system is available in the Library, but the following provides a brief but comprehensive guide. The Harvard system involves two processes: -


Providing a brief reference in the text for any work which has provided you with detailed information

Providing a detailed List of References at the end of the assignment which includes all references mentioned in the text.




Referencing in the text


(a) Primary referencing

You should cite the source, including page number (s) of any work that has provided you with detailed information such as factual material, statistical data or technical data OR when a work has influenced your line of analysis or argument.


When using the Harvard system you should give the author’s name and the date of publication. Depending on the particular sentence construction you adopt, this information might appear as: -

‘Morley (1992) in his study of television audiences, points out that….’

‘A study of television audiences (Morley 1992) found….’


Wherever possible, you should be more exact about where you derived your information – if, for example, you quote directly from a book – you should make sure you note the page numbers as well: -

(Morley 1992: 105)


For publications by two authors, both are given: -

(Morley and Robins 1995: 105)


The convention where more than two authors are involved is to use ‘et al’: -

(Downing et al 1995: 35)


If your source is an extract or chapter taken from either a collection of readings or a book with a number of different contributors published as an edited collection, you need to make clear only the immediate source of the reference:-   (Dahlgren 1995)


You will make clear to the reader that this chapter was part of an edited collection in the bibliography section at the end of your essay.


(b) Secondary Referencing

Frequently you will wish to refer to a book or piece of information which you have not read at first hand, but which has been commented on or referred to by another author. This situation is particularly common where you are using a general text of some kind. This is called secondary referencing and it is important that you signal clearly that you have not read the original text but have relied on the author you have read to give a fair reflection of the original work.


In these cases you must show both the author and date of the primary text as well as the author and date of the secondary text you have used. This is done by giving the name and date of the primary text followed by "cited in" followed by the name and date of the secondary reference. You will need to refer to the bibliography of the secondary text to obtain the detail you need.


 The format here would be: -

(Carey 1989 cited in Grossberg et al. 1998: 44)


(c ) Journal Articles

The principles involved in referencing journal articles are the same as those for referencing books. The reference given in the text should show the name of the author, date of publication and, where appropriate, page number (s).

(Bennett 1999: 556)


(d) Quotations

If you are quoting directly from a publication rather than discussing/describing it in your own words, then after the quote (which MUST always be in quotation marks) you should give the author (s), date and the page number from the text. Long quotes should be written as a separate paragraph and indented to differentiate them from the rest of the text. Quotation marks are not then required.


As Morley and Robins have argued:


…it is all too easy to see how, in reality the 'free circulation' of media products might be about corporate power and profits rather than about a 'better world'. (Morley and Robins 1995: 12)


Listing References at the end of an essay/assignment


The purpose of the information given in the text is to refer the reader to your list of references at the end of the essay where s/he will be able to find: -

the full name of the author (s) or editor (s) with their initials

the full title of the book/essay/journal which you have consulted

the publishers name as well as place and date of publication

reference to the page numbers of the section of text you have used (if not already given)


The format for a book is thus as follows: -

Name(s) of author (with initials last), (Date), Title (Underlined or in italic), Place of publication: Name of publisher, eg.

Morley, D. (1992), Television, Audiences and Cultural Studies, London: Routledge.


The format for a chapter from an edited collection is: -

Name(s) of author (with initials last), (Date), Title of chapter (in quotes), in Name of editor(s), (Date - if different from date of chapter), Title of Book (italics or underlined), Place of publication: Name of publisher, eg.

Qualter, T. (1991), 'The Social Role of Advertising', in O'Sullivan, T. and Jewkes, Y. (1997), The Media Studies Reader, London: Arnold.


The format for a journal article is: -

Name(s) of author (with initials last), (Date), Title of article (in quotes), Journal Title (italics or underlined), volume number and pages.


Bennett, A. (1999), ‘Subcultures or Neo-Tribes? Rethinking the Relationship Between Youth, Style and Musical Taste’, Sociology 33(3): 599-617.




During the course of your preparatory reading you may use material that has been helpful for reading around the subject, but which you do not make specific reference to in your essay. It is important to acknowledge this material. List all these items under the heading ‘Bibliography’. Include this list after the reference list.


 Note that under the Harvard System, the Reference List and Bibliography are always set out in alphabetical order by author.


Consistency is a very important aspect of referencing. You must use exactly the same format (layout, type-face and even down to punctuation) throughout the body of your work and in compiling the Reference List and Bibliography at the end.



Plagiarism in Assessed Work

Please read the following very carefully - Media Studies staff take plagiarism VERY SERIOUSLY. It is an affront to academic integrity and constitutes a direct attempt to deceive us. Up with this we will not put!



1 University Statement on Plagiarism

The University unequivocally condemns plagiarism, which it considers to be comparable to falsifying data and cheating in an examination, and warns students that the Examination Irregularities Panel looks gravely upon incidences of plagiarism and is empowered to recommend severe penalties where students are found guilty of plagiarism.


2 Definition

The University considers plagiarism involves deception and entails the submission for assessment of work that purports to be that of the student but is, in fact, wholly or substantially the work of another. Since it is difficult to establish such an intention to deceive, except through practice, the college defines plagiarism in the following way.


The University defines plagiarism as the incorporation by a student in work for assessment of material which is not their own in the sense that all or substantial part of the work has been copied without any attempt at a attribution or has been incorporated as if it were the student’s own when in fact it is wholly or substantially the work of another person.


3 Assessed work

Students at the University are required, on most courses, to submit a number of pieces of work for assessment, which contribute to a student’s total assessment and are regarded by Board of Examiners as seriously as the results of examinations. Work submitted for assessment is assessed in terms of a range of criteria which are specified in the requisite course guides. One of these criteria concerns the need to reference properly. Inadequate referencing does not per se constitute plagiarism. It does, however, constitute an example of poor scholarship and will, therefore, be penalised by examiners. The University’s definition of plagiarism, which is somewhat more restrictive than that found in many other colleges, does not, therefore, mean that inadequate referencing is not seen as an example of poor scholarship and, therefore, penalised accordingly. It does, however, wish to distinguish the latter from the offence of plagiarism, which involves intention to deceive.


4 Procedures

Instances of suspected plagiarism will, in the first instance, be dealt with by the School of Social Sciences plagiarism officer. The latter will normally organise on each occasion an interview whose express purpose is to establish whether there is a prima facie case of plagiarism. Ultimately the matter may be referred to the Academic Misconduct Panel, which is empowered to recommend that severe penalties be imposed up to and including termination of course where students are found guilty of plagiarism.



The mortal sin of plagiarism: some informal notes


Typical ways of doing plagiarism are:

1) copying someone else’s work or at least chunks of it without acknowledging the source

2) using a commentators’ quotation of primary source and trying to give the impression that you have read the primary source.

3) taking chunks from web-sites, or indeed, whole essays (paid for or otherwise)

4) using apparently anonymous websites and claiming you did not know how to reference them.

5) claiming you didn’t realise your literary theft was plagiarism

6) unacknowledged paraphrasing

7) putting in a chunk of someone else’s work and changing a few words here and there (a popular method)

8) partly or almost wholly copying out your flatmates essay and claiming that you “were working together ”. You’ll both get done for plagiarism.

9) copying out huge chunks of an author’s work, and thinking you can get away with it because you acknowledged the source.

10) using an ‘essay bank’ from the internet etc.


The consequences of being caught plagiarising can be very unpleasant.


We have a very good sense of when something is plagiarised and we WILL pursue it. We have search engines for plagiarism, and being media people we know our way round web-sites. If in doubt, ask us.






This document forms the definitive overview as to the nature and scope of this module and is used in the University’s quality assurance processes.



Business & Law


Economics, International Relations & Development


Economics, International Relations & Development


Propaganda, Power, Scandal









Graham McBeath



CO-REQUISITES*:        None

RESTRICTIONS*:         None



The purpose of this module is to explore propaganda, scandal and gossip nationally and internationally, as intensive forms of circulating information which create and destroy reputations, political credibility, and power via a wide range of media platforms and techniques upon which most of politics now stands, not least in fragmenting or divided societies.



The module analyses historically

* the manufacture of reputation and image

* the development of powerful agents and agencies of political persuasion

* the role of satirists such as Swift and Defoe as party propagandists in the 18th Century through to 'Private Eye' and 'Spitting Image'

* the role played by advertising agencies, social media, and political broadcasting today

* Fascist and Communist propaganda and counter-propaganda

* Social media networks and the power of scandal and gossip


Module Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module, with limited guidance students will be able to:

Subject-Specific Knowledge, Understanding & Application

a)    assess and evaluate, relevant theories of propaganda and scandal such as 'mass society'

b)    give accounts, of the dynamics of multi-media connectivity as a contemporary medium of propaganda and scandal

c)     undertake discourse analysis and visual and other forms of ethnography to make sense of propaganda networks

d)    structure explanations that distinguish the features of propaganda, scandal and gossip

Employability & Changemaker Skills

e)    select and use a range of formats and styles to communicate, argue and counter-argue information in such a way as to enable understanding and engagement by academic, specialist and non-specialist audiences for complex concepts

f)      plan and deliver work drawing imaginatively upon a range of sources, some of which will not usually be considered




Learning, Teaching and Assessment activities

Study hours


Contact hours: (total)

Comprising face-to-face and online contact hours as follows:



·         Face-to-face (total) - this may include the following:
(delete any that are not applicable)




Face to face interactive small group session (generic space in groups of approx. 30 e.g. seminars/workshops/tutorials)


F2F (broadcast) Lectures







·         Online contact hours (total)
(comprising online activities with mediated tutor input)



Guided independent study hours
(including hours for assessment preparation)



Module Total






Assessment Activity

Learning Outcomes




Assessment Deliverables





2000-word essay

a, c, d, f




2000 word analysis of an artefact as 'propaganda' e.g. a building or a song.

b, c, e, f



The assessment items listed above are graded and contribute to the overall module grade (assessment of learning).