IR318      Half Unit
Visual International Politics

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof William Callahan CBG.9.05

Darren Moon (Co-Teacher) KSW 4th floor


This course is available on the BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and Chinese, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

This course has a limited number of places (it is capped).

Course content

We live in a visual age. Images play an increasingly important role in shaping international political events and our understanding of them. The objective of this course is to examine how visual sources - maps, photographs, film, television, new media - influence international political phenomena, our perception of them, and public responses to them. The course has conceptual,  empirical, and practical objectives. At a conceptual level students will acquire knowledge of key theoretical and methodological debates necessary to study visual international politics. At an empirical level, students will gain a better understanding of several concrete instances where images helped to shape international political phenomena, from wars to humanitarian crises, from global social movements to alternative world orders. At a practical level, students will learn how to make a short documentary film.


This course is delivered through lectures and classes totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Michaelmas Term. Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay-diary and 1 project in the MT.

MT week 7: 750-word essay diary

MT week 8: Rough edit of film - approx. 2 minutes duration

Indicative reading

Bleiker, Roland, ed. (2018) Visual Global Politics. London: Routledge.

Callahan, William A. (2020) Sensible Politics: Visualizing International Relations. New York: Oxford University Press.

Harman, Sophie. (2019) Seeing Politics: Film, Visual Method, and International Relations. McGill-Queens University Press.

Rose, Gillian (2016) Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials, 4th ed. London: Routledge.

Berger, John (1972) Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin.

Evans, Jessica and Stuart Hall, eds. (1999) Visual Culture: The Reader. London: Sage.

Mirzoeff, Nicolas (2015) How to See the World. London: Pelican Books.

Shapiro, Michael J. (2011) Cinematic Geopolitics. London: Routledge.


Project (50%) in the MT.

Essay Diary (50%, 2500 words) in the LT.

The project will be a 5-minute documentary film, which will be made by teams of 3 students.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2021/22: 15

Average class size 2021/22: 14

Capped 2021/22: Yes (15)

Lecture capture used 2021/22: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills