Next start date: To be announced later in 2022

– Register interest to be sure you’ll be alerted to this –

Explore how (un)consciousness, coma and the vegetative state are represented in the media. Engage with debates about the portrayal of patients and reporting of  ‘miracle’ awakenings, court cases and scientific breakthroughs. Address implications for family and public understandings. This course is for anyone curious about media representation and interested in developing their critical media skills or understanding of “coma” patients and individuals with prolonged disorders of consciousness.
  • If you provide care to this patient group it will help develop your ability to challenge journalistic oversimplification, navigate the difference between medical research findings and media hype, and support families confronting the realities of ‘coma’.
  • If you are a student or researcher interested in the media representations of ethics, health or science this course offers a multi-dimensional journey though one particular area – & demonstrates how news reporting or films can impact on people’s lives.

Next start date: To be announced soon for later in 2022 – register to be sure you’ll be alerted to this

Delivery: entirely online

Interactivity: All our courses have interactive elements (eg polls & quizzes). In addition, each time we run a scheduled course there is a cohort of students learning alongside one another who interact via the discussion board, exchange ideas about best practice and pose questions of each other and of the tutor

Course authorProfessor Jenny Kitzinger, School of Journalism, Media and Culture, Cardiff University.

Duration: 4 week (self-study materials, for completion at own pace)

Study time: 8 hours (or more with optional activities) (A final online seminar may be offered if time available)

Assessment: self-assessment quizzes & reflection (auto-generated certification of participation on completion).

Cost: £20 (This gives you access to the online course for 1 month)


Example of course contents

  1. Introduction: Course welcome; Connecting learners; Defining terms; Hearing family concerns
  2. Portraying Patients:Sleeping beauties; Politics of visualisation; Vegetative versus Coma; Moving images; Family accounts revisited
  3. Defining Diagnosis and Prognosis:Diagnostic confusion; Imagined awakenings in film; Reporting recovery in the news; Representing misdiagnosis
  4. Framing Law and Science:Reporting landmark “right-to-die” cases; Family conflict hearings; Scientific ‘breakthroughs’ and brain scanning
  5. Research Reflections:Research design; Resource; Creative collaborations
  6. Review:Reviewing learning and signing off 

Note: You’ll need a computer & internet access to do the course – with a microphone to listen to audio & the usual software for playing youtube clips etc. If organising this course from a workplace please check the technology and that there is no firewall block before booking.