Faculty of Arts

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This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2016 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

Monash University

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Communications and Media Studies


Associate Professor Kevin Foster


Not offered in 2016


Through lectures, seminars, workshops, and a field trip the unit will study how photography from across the globe has shaped perceptions of and responses to war from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. It will examine how the visual representation of conflict has been informed and inflected by a range of constraints and influences - technological, commercial, cultural and political. It will examine specific case studies to demonstrate how the provision or withholding of photographs has helped to initiate or end hostilities, motivate and inform their participants, and how specific images have framed, fixed and challenged the public's understanding of the conduct and purposes of particular conflicts. It will examine the work of both professional and amateur photographers, it will consider the formal regimes of censorship and collection whereby photographs are prepared for public release or archived in museums and galleries. The unit will encourage students to interrogate how, why, for whom and with what purposes visual images of conflict are framed, formed and deployed, and how over time, in different geographical and cultural contexts, these images have emerged and developed.


On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an informed understanding of the history of war photography from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day;
  2. Articulate an advanced understanding of how technological advances have informed the development of war photography;
  3. Investigate the role of commercial considerations, cultural norms and differing political priorities in framing the visual representation of specific conflicts;
  4. Demonstrate a sophisticated grasp of the editorial, censorship and record-keeping processes dictating the release and/or storage of war photographs in differing conflicts;
  5. Apply the theoretical concepts of framing and interpretation to the reading and evaluation of particular images;
  6. Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the professional achievements of specific photographers from across the globe;
  7. Apply a cross-cultural, comparative understanding of how contrasting national narratives around war informed its differing visual representation.
  8. Apply their advanced understanding of the history and culture of photographic representation to compile am exhibition and accompanying catalogue/exegesis detailing the visual record of a specific campaign or conflict or the work of a particular photographer.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Twelve credit points of second-year Arts units.