• 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.

40,077 enrolled on this course

Statue of Liberty with men in the eyes. One holds a bag giving her the appearance of shedding a tear.

Propaganda and Ideology in Everyday Life

40,077 enrolled on this course

  • 5 weeks

  • 4 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Open level

Find out more about how to join this course

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.

Download video: standard or HD

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 join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

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.

I completed my PhD in History at the University of Nottingham in 2018. Since then I have been employed by UoN as a Research Fellow and Teaching Associate in the School of Humanities.

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.

Ways to learn

Subscribe & save

Buy this course

Limited access

Choose the best way to learn for you!

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

$69/one-off payment


Develop skills to further your careerFulfill your current learning needSample the course materials
Access to this courseticktick

Access expires 26 Aug 2024

Access to 1,000+ coursestickcrosscross
Learn at your own paceticktickcross
Discuss your learning in commentstickticktick
Certificate when you're eligibleDigital onlyPrinted and digitalcross
Continue & Upgrade

Cancel for free anytime

Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$69/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 26 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Learner reviews

Learner reviews cannot be loaded due to your cookie settings. Please and refresh the page to view this content.

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #FLpropaganda to talk about this course on social media.