Course syllabus



Media, Conflict & Peace (212)

Course Syllabus

Dr. Maria Armoudian, Senior Lecturer, office: HSB 542

GTA: Nicolas Pirsoul Office: 9 Grafton Road

Lecture: Monday 9-11

Discussion: Monday 12-1

Office Hours: Wednesday 4-5 or by appointment

This course deals with how media influence life and death issues and also 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 organizations. 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. It turns to how war and peace efforts are covered, how the parties are represented in mass media and how this coverage might influence life and death.  Within this, we examine how media’s structures and norms interplay with other factors to make the final media products.

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 behaviors. 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 analyze how the dissemination of information, ideas and frames might impact emotions, identities, thoughts and behaviors.
  • To recognize 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.


Required Text:  The following book will be available through the bookstore.  This and additional readings will be available either on reserve in the library, through the electronic resources at the library, on the course website, or in class.

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


Requirements: The course includes 12 two-hour lectures (one per week) and a weekly discussion. The latter will be co-led by the lecturer, the tutor, 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.

Objectives and Expectations:

  • Please 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.
  • I expect you to complete your work on time. Late assignments will be penalized, as discussed later in this syllabus.
  • 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 who, why, when and how media influence and also who and what influences media.
  • What were the underlying issues of the conflict?
  • Who were the parties involved and what were their ostensible motives?
  • How did the conflict end (or did it)?
  • Did media play a role in the conflict or its resolution? If so, how?
  • How were media messages framed? Who framed the messages? Who was blamed? How were they characterized? What might have been the emotional impact?
  • What was the media’s structure?


Please be punctual, prepared, and respectful of your fellow students and make the least amount of disruption if you happen to be late. Please turn off cell-phones and actively engage during class 

Come and see me if you are having problems keeping up or if there is any reason you cannot be effectively engaged in the course.  I will not make exceptions from course deadlines or requirements at the last minute.  However, if you talk to me in advance, we can almost always work something out. 

Assessment based on the following:

  • 1 X Midterm test = 20% of grade: The in-class test will consist of short answer and multiple-choice questions. The lecturer will offer students a review sheet to help prepare.
  • Quizzes = 20% of grade: There will be at least five short quizzes given during the lecture hour, each one on the lectures up to that point. We will record the best four of those quizzes.
  • 1 X 1000-word essay = 20% of grade Students will submit a written essay on a topic relevant to the course. More detail to come. This will be due on or before 25 September at 3pm. Please be prepared to discuss your findings.
  • 1 X final exam = 40% of grade: The final exam will contain an objective section and essay questions: The lecturer will offer students a review sheet from which students can prepare.


Email Policy

Please make sure to identify yourself in your email. As a general rule, I will not transmit syllabi or handouts via email.  I also cannnot accept assignments by email.  If you have questions, you may come see me in office hours, but if you need to email, please only use this email: This is the email that I check on a regular basis. Please also try and limit your questions to brief responses. 

Schedule of Lectures:

1          Introduction to Instructor & Course                                                               July 16

1          Overview of Concepts + Historic Contexts, leadership & Construction      

2          Hard & Soft Power: Force, Propaganda, Persuasion, Coercion & More       July 23  

2          Frames, meta-frames, the power of emotion, learning, Information

psychological forces, agenda-setting, persuasion                                          

3          Worst Case Scenarios—Genocide e.g. Rwanda, Holocaust, Bosnia             July 30


4          Worst Case Scenarios—Rwanda, Holocaust, Bosnia (cont.)                         Aug.  6


5          Media & Peace—Burundi (compared with Rwanda) & Review                    Aug. 13

6          Test in Class                                                                                                    Aug. 20

BREAK                                                                                                                      Aug. 27- Sept. 8

7          Northern Ireland Conflict & Peace Process                                                    Sept. 10

7          Israel & Palestine compared w/Northern Ireland peace process                   

8          Western Media, structures, news norms, coverage & portrayals                   Sept. 17

8          War Correspondents & Peace Journalism                                                      

9          Going to war—media & foreign policy (case: the Iraq War)                         Sept. 24

9          Propaganda, Public Diplomacy (PD) & International News “wars”             

10        PD (cont.) + Citizen & Advocacy Media                                                       Oct. 1

10        Terrorism & Media                                                                                                               

11        Hackers & Cyber-warfare                                                                               Oct. 8

11        Entertainment Media & Conflict                                                                   

12        Conclusion & Review                                                                                    Oct. 15


Week 1:          Introduction to Course, Instructor & Overview


  • Armoudian, Maria. 2011. Kill the Messenger. Introduction


Week 2: Understanding Power: Hard Power, Soft Power & “Smart Power”/Framing, Narratives & Psychological Forces


  • Nye, Joe. 2009. “Get Smart,” Foreign Affairs, July/August (Posted on CANVAS)
  • 2011. Kill the Messenger, Chapter 12 & 13

Weeks 3 & 4 —Worst Case Scenarios


  • Armoudian, Maria. 2011. Kill the Messenger, Chapters 1, 2, 3


Week 5— Media & Peace


  • Armoudian, Maria. Kill the Messenger, Chapters 4 & 5 & 13.


Week 6– Review & Test

  • Review Sheet to come


Week 7—Israel & Palestine compared w/Northern Ireland

  • Wolfsfeld, Gadi. 2004. Chapters 1 & 4, “Building Theory” & “The Palestinians and the Israeli Media.” In Media and the Path to Peace. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Wolfsfeld, Gadi. “Promoting Peace through the News Media.”


Week 8—Western Media, War Correspondents, Peace Journalism.


  • Armoudian, Maria. 2016. Reporting from the Danger Zone: Frontline Journalists, Their Jobs and an Increasingly Perilous Future. Introduction, Chapter Two & Conclusion
  • Wolfsfeld, Gadi. “Telling a Good Story.” In Making Sense of Media & Politics. Routledge.
  • Galtung, Johan, and Dietrich Fischer. 2013."High road, low road: Charting the course for peace journalism." Johan Galtung. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. 95-102.


Week 9—Media, Foreign Policy + Public Diplomacy (PD), Propaganda & International News “Wars”


  • Jakobsen, Peter Viggo. 2000. “Focus on the CNN Effect Misses the Point: The Real Media Impact on Conflict Management is Invisible and Indirect.” Journal of Peace Research. Vol. 37, No. 2 (p. 131-143).
  • Lance Bennett: When the Press Fails. University of Chicago Press. Introduction.
  • Cull, Nicholas. 2009. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. 616, Public Diplomacy in a Changing World (Mar., 2008), pp. 31-54.
  • Seib, Philip. 2010. "Transnational journalism, public diplomacy, and virtual states." Journalism Studies5: 734-744.


Week 10 – International News “Wars” + Media by Citizens, Advocates & Terrorists


  • Rodgers, James. 2012. “The Air Raids that Never Were and the War that Nobody Won: Government Propaganda in Conflict Reporting and How Journalists Should Respond to it.” Global Media and Communication. April. Vol. 9, No. 1.
  • Drumbl, Mark. 2012. “Child Soldiers and Clicktivism: Justice, Myths, and Prevention.” Journal of Human Rights Practice.” 4 (3): pp. 481-485.
  • Shane, S. and Hubbard, B., 2014. ISIS displaying a deft command of varied media. New York Times, 30.
  • Nacos, B., 2016. Mass-mediated Terrorism: Mainstream and Digital Media in Terrorism and Counterterrorism. Rowman & Littlefield. Introduction.
  • Norris, Pippa, Montague Kern & Marion Just. “The Lessons of Framing Terrorism.” In Framing Terrorism.


  • (Also useful, if you have time, Bolt, Neville. 2011. “Conclusion.” From The Violent Image.” Columbia University Press).


Week 11—Hackers & Cyberwar + Entertainment Media & Conflict


·         Rutkin, Aviva. 2016. “Cyberwar becomes official.” New Scientist. 25 June.



Acknowledgement of sources is an important aspect of academic writing. The University’s Referen©ite website provides students with a one-stop online resource for academic referencing needs.  Referen©ite explains the essentials of referencing and how to avoid plagiarism.  It also includes practical tools to help students reference correctly, use references effectively in writing, and gives fast access to some major reference formats with examples. 

There is a different way of doing this depending on which reference system you use.  Reference systems can vary from one department to another. Please use one of the following reference styles and be consistent:

  1. Harvard
  2. Chicago A


Departmental Guide:  See the Politics and IR website for a detailed guide.

Endnote: bibliography management software system

You can use either referencing system within the bibliography management software Endnote.  EndNote is a specialised database programme for storing and managing bibliographic references.  We strongly recommend you attend both Library and Student Learning Centre courses on how to use Endnote to create footnotes and a bibliography while you write your assignment.  You will also learn how to import references from Library catalogues or other electronic databases into EndNote libraries using filters. You may also connect directly to some remote databases and search them using EndNote, saving the retrieved references directly to your EndNote library. References in EndNote libraries can be then be sorted and searched, and incorporated automatically into papers for publication. See for further details.


The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence.  The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting his or her learning.  Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced.  Student's assessed work will be reviewed against electronic source material using computerised detection mechanisms and penalties apply for breach of university policies. For further details including resources to help you see

A Politics and International Relations degree is designed to help you develop independent thought and arguments, and to teach you to think critically about a variety of issues in the world, as well as to teach you facts about political process, history and systems. We are primarily interested in whether you can assess facts and arguments put forward by others and then construct your own ideas and arguments, using the work of others to inform and support you. The assessments in your politics courses reflects those goals, and that is one of the reasons that academic honesty is so important – in order to demonstrate that you are learning these valuable skills, you need to hand in coursework that is written in your own words and that shows what research you have done. Copying and pasting or reproducing another person’s work will lead to bad grades or worse, not just because it constitutes plagiarism, but also because it does not demonstrate that any learning has actually occurred.

Writing academic essays or reports will almost always require you to include facts or ideas that have already been written about or discussed, and you may also quote from other works. Using the work of others to inspire or support your own work is essential, but you must properly indicate and acknowledge that support. Politics and International Relations accepts two types of styles for citing and referencing – both laid out in the Coursework Guide – and you should become very familiar with the proper way to use a referencing style. If you have questions or concerns about how to reference correctly, always consult your lecturer in the first instance.


Plagiarism is taking another person’s words or ideas (from any kind of source, including the internet) and making it appear as if they were your own. A variety of acts constitute plagiarism, some of which may not be immediately obvious. All of the situations below are considered plagiarism and will be dealt with accordingly:

  • Direct copying word-for-word from another source without indicating that it is a quotation and/or without citation
  • Copying word-for-word without quotation marks, even if a citation is included
  • Changing a few words in a passage and then citing it as if it were paraphrased
  • Rewording and paraphrasing another person’s ideas without citing that work
  • Resubmitting one of your own old assignments from another course, or using large portions of a previous assignment in a new assignment
  • Buying an assignment online, paying someone to write one for you, or using all or part of another student’s past or present assignment



Please submit your papers electronically online via Turnitin with the hard copies delivered to the Arts Assignment Centre. There are three steps to this process you need to complete:

  1. ECOPY TURNITIN: submit an ecopy to Turnitin and get a Turnitin receipt and print it off
  3. ARTS 1 HARD COPY: print a hard copy of your assessment, attach the assignment tracking form, and the turnitin receipt, and submit this hard copy to ARTS 1  Reception.


Turnitin submission:

Turnitin is a procedure designed to detect academic dishonesty, therefore ensuring students who do original work get the credit for it and those who copy do not. All students must submit their work via Turnitin as well as hard copy, otherwise it will not count as being submitted and will be penalised or not marked.  You can use turnitin directly through Canvas.

You will get a receipt for electronic submission; print, save and attach this in case of problems. Anyone not handing work into Turnitin will be marked zero - until you have submitted it via Turnitin it is not counted as handed in, even if you have handed the hard copy into the office. Any work received after the deadline in terms of date and time will be marked as late and grade penalties will apply, unless students have been granted an extension.



These policies may seem harsh, but they protect those students who do make an honest effort to get their work in on time, because they will not be competitively disadvantaged by having a shorter preparation time than those who do not bother. It also ensures that academic staff get a clear picture of the progress of their students and that they will not be unpredictably burdened with marking at times they have had to set aside for other tasks.

  • Penalties – a loss of marks – will be applied in a sliding scale as follows:
  1. Essays submitted up to two days late will lose 5 marks
  2. Essays submitted three to five days late will lose 10 marks
  3. Essays submitted six to ten days late will lose 25 marks
  4. Essays submitted more than ten days past the due submission date will not be accepted and the student will be given a 0% mark for the essay.

Pass Grades

Fail Grades





A+ 90-100

B+  75-79

C+ 60-64

D+ 45-49

A   85-89

B    70-74

C   55-59

D 40 -44

A-  80-84

B-   65-69

C-  50-54

D- 0-39


If you are late (failing either to submit hard copy and/or Turnitin copy by the deadline), it is therefore in your interest to submit the work as soon as possible.

In exceptional cases, the course convenor may allow a piece of work submitted after ten days to receive a mark of up to 50 to pass, should the work deserve it. If you are unsure about any aspect of this policy in relation to your work talk to your tutor, or the course convenor if there is no tutor for your course.

Submit your work by the deadline in hard copy with your Turnitin receipt attached by 4pm to avoid penalties.

Turnitin submission and late penalties

  • All undergraduate students must submit their work to Turnitin before submitting their hard copy
  • They will obtain a receipt by email for doing so, which needs to be printed out (the receipt only) and attached to the hard copy of the submission.


Hard copy but have not submitted to Turnitin?

  • If you hand in a hard copy without submitting the work to Turnitin the work will not be counted as submitted and the penalty system will apply from then on.
  • Providing a Turnitin receipt with the hard copy of your essay demonstrates to your tutor and/or lecturer that you have submitted to Turnitin.
  • If you have trouble submitting to Turnitin you should contact your tutor or lecturer as soon as possible to notify them of the problem.  Ensure you still submit your hard copy on time, and submit to Turnitin as soon as you can.


Submitted to Turnitin but no hard copy? The penalisation policy applies.

If you just submit to Turnitin but do not submit the hard copy to the office you will still be penalised as if you have not submitted your work at all. Both Turnitin and hard copy submission must be completed for no penalty to apply.

Penalisation policy for work submitted late (NB: Specific courses may have their own penalisation policies for late work.  Consult your lecturer, tutor or course convenor for further information.)


Students can be certain that their essays will be marked as normal if handed in as required before the deadline or with an extension approved before the deadline.

Extensions for work submitted after the deadline

If you have a problem with completing your work on time because of personal health issues then you should seek an extension in advance of the deadline from the lecturer. An extension will only be granted:

  1. Where there is 'good cause', backed up by documentary evidence if required by the convenor.
  2. If the tutor (or convenor) authorises an extension; it is entirely at their discretion, and it is also completely at their discretion to decide how long an extension to grant
  3. If you fill out the PS03 - Coursework Extension Form (available from
  4. You need to fill it in and hand it in with the hard copy of your assessed work. If the extension has been granted by email or face to face, then it will then be accepted when your work is marked, or you can take it to be signed before you submit your work).


Good cause covers genuine cases which are not related to your academic work, such as sudden illness (supported by medical certificate), last-minute death in the family, official leave of absence or similar circumstances

NB:  Extensions should normally be applied for before the deadline. In exceptional cases only, extensions may be granted after the deadline at the discretion of the course lecturer, but otherwise students will be penalized and lose marks.

Essays submitted more than ten days past the due submission date will not be accepted and the student will be given a 0% mark for the essay. However, in exceptional cases only, the course lecturer may allow the essay to receive a mark of up to 50 to pass, should the work deserve it.


Provisional marks

Please note that the Department has recently adopted a bell curve formula to the distribution of grades and may impose this at the final markers meeting. Students should therefore understand that any mark they receive during the course are provisional only, and subject to change by the department at this final meeting.


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As a general principle, the University encourages the prompt and informal resolution of all student concerns and complaints as they arise, in a collegial and non-adversarial manner. It is particularly important that procedures and processes be applied in a consistent manner – if in doubt, consult your course co-ordinator or Academic Head.

The University, in collaboration with the Auckland University Students Association, supports a class representative and Student/Staff Consultative Committee system. Your class will elect a class or year representative at the start of the semester. Student reps have two roles: as advocates/mediators for the class or year they represent; and as a member of the departmental Student/Staff Consultative Committee, where student reps and academic staff discuss departmental issues. The class rep is a Primary point of contact for students who have a problem or a suggestion to make about teaching or course quality, or student learning conditions.

Students have several initial options if they wish to raise concerns, or complain, about a course, its delivery or teaching:

  • Bring the matter directly to the teacher, or course co-ordinator; or
  • Talk to the class representative, who may then raise it directly with the teacher, or pursue the matter at a meeting of the relevant Staff/Student Consultative Committee; or
  • Contact WAVE, The Student Advocacy Network maintained by students, or the University Mediator’s Office.

Please see the AUSA web site



Course summary:

Date Details