Manufacturing the Media: The Evolution of Propaganda and Mass Media in the Twentieth Century HIST4294

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course explores the history of propaganda and mass media as they evolved from 1916 to 2016. It provides a framework for the investigation of propaganda through mass media in the modern world by examining important developments throughout this period in a chronological manner. This allows for the examination of specific themes within the field; the creation of the Creel Committee and the first major governmental propaganda department in the United States, the onset of cinematic propaganda, the use of propaganda by both allies and axis during the Second World War, Cold War Propaganda, and an examination of our modern understanding of what propaganda is and how it works. The overarching theme explored throughout the course is the relationship between technological advancement, the onset of new forms of mass media, and the improvement of propaganda techniques.


12 x 1-hour lectures and 8 x 1 hour seminars over 10 weeks as scheduled in MyCampus, This is one of the honours option in History and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into History, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses





Course essay (3,000 words) - 60%

Source commentary (1,500 words) - 35 %

Oral assessment: seminar contribution - 5%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Introduce students to the study and definitions of different types of propaganda.

■ Explore how different forms of propaganda interact with one another, and with what we now term the "mass-media".

■ Investigate propaganda in different eras and use this investigation to understand how propaganda impacts the lives of ordinary people around the world.

■ Examine how mass media has evolved over the last century.

■ Engage with a wealth of primary and secondary source material in the form of documents, posters, films, and oral histories.

■ Critique approaches to a theory-heavy topic, including but not limited to public history, global history, and gender history.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ Distinguish between different types of propaganda and their aims.

■ Discuss at length the relationship between propaganda and mass-media, how the two interact and how they have evolved together over the course of a century.

■ Recognise the global nature of propaganda studies and history, while also being able to discuss specific examples from several countries including the United States.

■ Critically assess historical debates on propaganda and mass-media.

■ Interpret a range of primary and secondary sources related to propaganda and mass-media.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.