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. 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’.

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

Cost: £20

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

Duration: 3 week (self-study materials, for completion at own pace)

Study time: 6 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).

Who is this course for? This course will suit healthcare workers and also media studies students. It includes both ‘core’ and ‘advanced’ learning materials, and allows you to move through the materials at the pace or depth that suits you.

Current Outline of Culture, 'Coma' and the Media course

  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