Visual Communication in Contemporary Media


If you are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of visual communication expressed through different contemporary media forms, this course is for you. By looking at how we communicate visually through different channels, you will study multimedia and media-specific communication in a historical context.

The course deals with graphic mediums such as pictures, photography and moving images in short formats. We look at social media channels and formats such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Hipstamatic, vines, memes, GIFs, music videos, back-projections during concerts and opening credits in films.
In order to understand how content creators adapt visual material for various channels, we need to understand different media expressions and media-specific communication. This is why, during the course, you will learn to critically explore how visual communication works in political, commercial, and cultural contexts. The course is built on theoretical perspectives related to media representation, genres, gender, postcolonialism, power and hierarchies. Furthermore, the course combines academic theory with practical activities and workshops.

Admission requirements

General entry requirements + Civics 1 b / 1a1, English 6


credits 32% final grades 34% national university aptitude test 34%


Anna ArnmanAnna Arnman is a Senior Lecturer at Malmö University and course reponsible for Visual Communication in Contemporary Media. 

Why is it important to study visual communication and how it is used in contemporary media? 

Visual elements play an increasing role in our contemporary media culture and the need to be able to analyse the images of visual communication is great. Understanding how one communicates visually is significant because visual expression concerns many types of media output. It is important to have a deeper understanding of the specifics of the media as well as how one communicates visually in various platforms with their different aims and methods. Based on this, together, we will look out to the world and interpret the visual communication we are constantly met with on our screens and in our social media feeds.

What can students expect to get out of this course?

In this course, we analyse how in our everyday lives we relate to and use visual communication in all its various forms. Through studying the visual expressions of various media platforms, for example, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo, we can analyse them from an historical context as well as cultural, social, commercial and political contexts. With visual analysis and power relations as a starting point, we will analyse and critique everything from selfies to GIFs, vines, memes, music videos, adverts, infotainment and political propaganda. Those enrolled in the course will need to be enthusiastic about contemporary visual communication and have both created and exhibited their own productions.

Could you describe what students will be doing in workshops and other practical activities?

All theory is followed up with practical workshops where the students learn how to communicate visually in various platforms and formats such as music videos, adverts, GIFs, memes, selfies and political propaganda.

How did you get into this field? What attracted you to the study of visual communication?

Visual communication in all its forms and expressions has always interested me. Analysing images and seeing the effects the visual has on everything from human psychology to how one defines oneself as an individual or has an effect on others in both commercial as well as political contexts never ceases to fascinate me. I continuously and curiously interpret all the expressions of visual media I see around me, both in my work as a senior lecturer of visual communication at Malmö University and in my research on horror fiction. The power of visual images, and the ability to convey that which is difficult and frightening, in particular, formed the foundation of my film studies thesis in the horror genre (Hellraiser – Om Clive Barkers film, 2005). I also continue to work with within this field as a former board member of the Lund International Fantastic Film Festival.


Syllabus for students autumn 2020, autumn 2019

Course Code:
KK160A revision 2
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
No main fields
Date of ratification:
13 May 2019
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
02 September 2019
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
13 May 2019

Entry requirements

General entry requirements + Civics 1 b / 1a1, English 6

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

The course is not part of a main field of study.


The course is divided into three modules:
I. Basics of Visual Communication as an academic field (2 credits)
II. Perspectives on visual languages in photography, moving images and graphic design (3 credits)
III. Individual Project on visual communication in contemporary media (10 credits)

Learning outcomes

After completing the course the student will be able to:
1. Understand contemporary visual communication within historical and critical contexts and describe how they relate to visual communication as an academic field.
2. Select and/or produce material for specific communicational contexts.
3. Be able to evaluate fellow students and professional work.
4. Identify possibilities to contribute to contemporary visual communication, through the creation of a small portfolio.
5. Identify the ethical and social consequences of visual communication.

Learning activities

Learning activities consist of lectures, oral presentations, practical assignments, workshops, the creation of an individual small portfolio, and written reflections. Lectures are followed by
practical assignments. The personal project at the end of the course will be presented in a small portfolio accompanied by a written reflection.


Part I. One assignment on visual communication as an academic field. The oral examination will be examined in groups and an individual written reflection. Learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, (2 credits)
Part II. One written reflection and a practical assignment on perspectives on visual languages in visual communication. Learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 5 (3 credits)
Part III. Personal project within Visual Communication. Creating a small portfolio and written
reflection on a personal project in visual communication, graphic design, moving images or
photography. Learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (10 credits)
For re-examination of oral or production assignments, certain circumstances apply since the examination of these assignments are dependent on student participation during certain periods of time and in speci?c projects. Re-examination will be given according to the student’s rights, but with adjustments to the speci?c assignment since it can not be conducted in the same context as the ordinary examination.

Grading system

Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Core literature:
  • Sturken, Marita and Cartwright, Lisa. (2002/2017) Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. Oxford University Press (2002 version, online access, Libsearch)

Parts from:
  • Bordwell, David. (2016). Film Art: An Introduction. NY: McGraw-Hill Education (part of the reading compendium)
  • Gripsrud, Jostein. (2002/2017). Understanding Media Culture (2002 version, online access, Libsearch)
  • Hall, Stuart. (2013). “Hall on Representation”. (part of the reading compendium)
  • Jenkins, Henry. (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. (part of the reading compendium)
  • Lacey, Nick. (2009). Image and Representation: Key Concepts in Media Studies. NY: Palgrave (part of the reading compendium)
  • Mulvey, Laura. (1975). “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (part of the reading compendium)
  • Wells, Liz. (2015). Photography: A Critical Introduction. NY: Routledge (part of the reading compendium)
Up to 300 pages of up-to-date journal articles may be added. Various visual and audiovisual examples from all kinds of sources will be added.

Course evaluation

The University provides students who participate in or who have completed a course with the opportunity to make known their experiences and viewpoints with regards to
the course by completing a course evaluation administered by the University. The University will compile and summarize the results of course evaluations as well as informing participants of the results and any decisions relating to measures initiated in response to the course evaluations. The results will be made available to the students (HF 1:14).


The education is provided by the Faculty of Culture and Society at the School of Arts and Communication.

Further information

Studentservice, K3 - Malmö universitet,


09 November 2020 - 17 January 2021 Day-time 100% Malmö Schedule

Tuition fees

for non-EU students only

First instalment: 88000 SEK
Full tuition Fee: 88000 SEK