1.1 Course welcome



Hello, welcome to this course. I’m Professor Jenny Kitzinger from the School of Journalism, Media and Culture, Cardiff University. My previous work includes books such as: ‘Framing Abuse’ (Plutobooks), ‘Human Cloning in the Media’ (Routledge) and ‘The Circuit of Mass Communication in the AIDS crisis’ (Routledge). Listen to a short welcome in the clip below.


The course builds on research by myself and colleagues at the ‘Coma & Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre’ (, especially Professor Celia Kitzinger, and Dr Julie Latchem-Hastings.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you will have:

  • increased your understanding of the vegetative state and family experience of this
  • enhanced your ability to assess media reports and reflect on the media’s influence
  • refined your existing skills e.g. to write reports (as a journalist), to talk with families (as a healthcare professional) or do research (as an academic) 

Learning materials

Throughout the course there are clips from movies, interviews with family members, blogs to read and quizzes and reflective exercises to do. You might like to set yourself up with a notebook now or a folder on your computer to store your reflections as you work your way through the materials. Bookmark the course webpage on your computer now so you can find it again easily too.

Navigating the course

The course consists of six module, these are listed in the course navigation bar (often displayed in the top right of your screen). Click on the module title to reveal all the units within it. Have a look at the titles of all the units now. These are in bite-size chunks and ordered to support cumulative learning; it’s a good idea to follow the order proposed, even if you just skim some areas very briefly and choose to focus on the units that interest you most.

Diverse learners

Some of you (healthcare professionals) will already know a lot about the vegetative state so will just skim over those parts of the course  – others (eg media studies students) may need to read these parts carefully to understand what a ‘vegetative state’ actually is. There are also some sections of the course – eg references to film theory or the media’s role in agenda setting and framing, that will be more familiar to some learners than others. The course is designed to be used by many different types of learners, so choose the path that suits you. 

Assessment and certification

The course is designed so it can be completed with self-assessment via quizzes and self-reflection. A certificate of completion is generate automatically once you’ve ticked off all the units

Formal Assessment as part of your University course or formal professional development procedures?

If you are doing this course as part of a formal programme of core study you may be able to discuss options for assessment and feedback with your lecturer e.g. –

  • writing a film or book review informed by your learning
  • doing a comparative analysis of how a story is reported in different news outlets
  • writing a reflecting piece about your experience as a healthcare professional responding to media representations or reflecting on comments from patients’ families.

Optional activities

Throughout the course there are coloured boxes to click on which reveal optional actives and possible assessment points. There are designed for students specialising in particular areas or who are doing this learning as part of a full university degree. You can just ignore these if you are doing the short version of the course.


Now mark this unit as ‘complete’ by clicking the green button (bottom right). Then move to the next unit by clicking the purple button at the bottom