• University of Nottingham
  • British Library

Propaganda and Ideology in Everyday Life

Find out how propaganda is used to instil political ideologies and its impact on our daily lives, with this free online course.

34,623 enrolled on this course

Propaganda and Ideology in Everyday Life
  • Duration5 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours
  • CertificatesAvailable

This free online course explores the building blocks of our political views: freedom, community, place, justice and choice.

These words mean different things to different people – such radically different things in fact, that individuals, protest movements and entire states often go to war to assert their understanding of, say, freedom over somebody else’s.

Understand how propaganda works with our everyday beliefs

Over five weeks, we will explore how and why words come to mean such different things, across time and space. We will look at how we come to be political, and how political ideology and propaganda pick up on the words, images and symbols we use to express our own convictions and sentiments.

The course draws on the academic expertise of The University of Nottingham’s Centre for the Study of Ideologies (CSPI), as well as collections showcased in the British Library’s 2013 exhibition, Propaganda: Power and Persuasion.

We will examine examples from different periods and contexts in the 20th and 21st centuries, looking at how propaganda is used to promote causes both “good” and “bad” in the arenas of public health, identity and belonging, and freedom and responsibility.

Share your beliefs with a global community of learners

Throughout the course, you will be able to share your thoughts, beliefs and experiences with other learners, and post images to an online archive, helping to show us what freedom, community or protest might mean to you.

In this way, you can join a global conversation, where people discuss politics across national, social and religious dividing lines, helping all of us appreciate where our differences of views originate.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds “Freedom,” “community,” “justice,” “protest,” “choice.” We all agree that these words matter, and yet they mean very different things to different people. Such radically different things, in fact, that individuals, protest movements, and entire states are sometimes prepared to go to war to resolve their understanding of, say, “freedom” over somebody else’s. In this course, we will explore how and why words come to mean such different things across time and space. But this course is different. It is not just a learning experience. It is a conversation that is all about you. We will introduce you to the latest academic research on how people and communities come to adopt particular values and ideologies.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds But we want to encourage you to put this knowledge to practical use straight away and to share your thoughts, beliefs, and experiences with other participants. We will be exploring how ideas change, adapt, how they are propagated, and how they are understood, not just in official political texts, but also in images, films, and everyday objects like schoolbooks and even toys. To understand the social life of political ideas, we’ll be drawing on the vast collections of the British Library. The materials we’ll be using come from political parties and governments which try to influence the way we behave and think, or maybe just reinforce existing values. They also come from protest movements, social groups, and commercial organisations.

Skip to 1 minute and 31 seconds Taken together, they provide a window on the ways in which we think and act politically. But they can also remind us that some ideas become so ingrained in our everyday lives that we forget to think of them as political at all. And instead, they’ve become common sense. We will not just be working with the great collections of the British Library here. You, the learners, will be contributing to the archive of materials that we analyse in this course. So we hope you will join us and our friends at the British Library. Take part in the debates about freedom, community, and citizenship. And explore the British Library’s great resources.

What topics will you cover?

  • Political ideology and its communication through propaganda
  • Key political concepts – freedom, justice, community, territory, and consumption
  • The articulation of political ideas through images, texts and objects
  • Interdisciplinary perspectives on ideology from politics, history, sociology, classics, psychology, and media studies
  • The relationship between such everyday activities as consumption, cooking, and living in urban spaces with political beliefs

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Assess the usefulness of different academic methodologies for understanding ideologies
  • Compare propaganda produced by regimes from across the political spectrum
  • Discuss how political ideals and values travel between different historical periods and cultural contexts
  • Explore how images and spaces reflect and shape ideological assumptions
  • Reflect on the relationship between personal beliefs and political behaviours

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone with an interest in politics, history and propaganda. No previous experience or qualifications are required.

Who will you learn with?

A lead educator on this course, I am Professor of modern history at Nottingham, and specialize on history and photography, and the legacies of National Socialism and genocide.

Head of Contemporary British Publications at the British Library, and leading on "Learning from the Past". I'm excited to find out what people are studying, and sharing our amazing resources

I am Professor of Political Theory at the University of Nottingham and a Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Political Ideologies.

Who developed the course?

The University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham is committed to providing a truly international education, inspiring students with world-leading research and benefitting communities all around the world.

British Library

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world’s greatest research libraries.

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Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt. A Statement of Participation is also available for this course.

Certificate of Achievement + transcript


Statement of Participation