ASTK15496U SEMINAR: Propaganda and Disinformation on Social Media

Volume 2017/2018

Elective course in the specialization "International Relations, Diplomacy and Conflict Studies"

Elective course III at "Security Risk Management"

The course is open to all master students


Propaganda and disinformation on social media are increasingly gaining attention both among journalists and government officials. The concern manifests itself in the popular interest in “fake news”, the rise of the fact-checking industry and new governmental security policies towards online “information threats”. However, such policy requires a clear understanding of the phenomena itself. In light of this, the seminar offers an introduction to studies of social media, propaganda and disinformation in the context of international conflicts. It draws upon the disciplines of political science, sociology and media studies. The participants will critically engage with competing theories and conceptions of the phenomena, while drawing upon historic and contemporary cases of propaganda and disinformation in USA and Russia. The seminar will be centered around discussions concerning the role of social media and the historical novelty of digital mass deception. Furthermore, the participants will critically reflect upon the more recent concepts of hybrid warfare and the competing measures against digital disinformation and propaganda. 

Learning Outcome

The seminar will enable students to:

  • Describe and reflect upon relevant concepts and theories.

  • Analyze empirical cases of disinformation and propaganda on social media.

  • Compare and evaluate countermeasures against disinformation and propaganda.

  • Critically reflect upon the novelty of the abovementioned information threats in the context of New Media.

Competency description

The seminar sessions will further the student’s ability to understand online information threats in the context of international conflict. It will offer useful insights for students who may wish to pursue other courses and research projects related to international relations, security or media studies. Furthermore, the course is relevant for students who wish to pursue a career in international relations, diplomacy, security or communication.

Bernays, E. L., & Miller, M. C. (1928). Propaganda. Ig publishing.

Chomsky, N., & Barsamian, David. (2015). Propaganda and the Public Mind (2nd ed.). Chicago: Haymarket Books.

Eriksson, Johan & Giampiero Giacomello (2006) ‘The Information Revolution, Security, 
and International Relations: (IR)relevant Theory?’. International Political Science Review 27 (3), 221-244.

Fuchs, C. (2013). Social media: A critical introduction. Sage.

Jowett, G. S., & O'donnell, V. (2014). Propaganda & persuasion. Sage.

Lewandowsky, S., Ecker, U. K., Seifert, C. M., Schwarz, N., & Cook, J. (2012). Misinformation and its correction continued influence and successful debiasing. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13(3), 106-131.

Morozov, E. (2012). The net delusion: The dark side of Internet freedom. PublicAffairs.

Pamment, J., & Bjola, C. (2016). Digital containment: Revisiting containment strategy in the digital age. Global Affairs.

Pomerantsev, Peter (2015). ‘The Kremlin’s Information War’. Journal of Democracy,.26(4) 40-50.


Students are expected to have a bachelor’s degree in a discipline within social science or a degree in a strongly related field. Knowledge about International Relations or Social Media is preferable prior to the seminar, however, not required.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Individuel written assignment
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assesment

Passed/Not passed