Visual Propaganda and the Covid-19 Crisis – A Critical Inquiry

   School of Art and Design

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  Dr Marco Bohr  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The proposed project provides a suitable researcher with the opportunity to investigate the role that visual and political propaganda has played during the Covid-19 crisis. The project focuses on the way that media content and communications by the state set out very specific demands of citizens to take certain actions - or not to take certain actions - emphasising or implying the claimed ‘virtuosity’ of doing so. This project encourages critical analysis of visual communications including posters, billboards, placards, flyers, wearables, digital advertising, TV advertising, motion graphics or social media campaigns.

We are looking for innovative PhD proposals that critically investigate the role that visual communication played during the Covid-19 crisis, focusing on the extent to which these campaigns amount to visual and political propaganda. The project is concerned with the methods of communication, many of which are a combination of image and text, that have been applied in a variety of media to drive as well as monitor public behaviour. Visual analysis, and a thorough understanding of the relationship between visuality and politics, would therefore constitute a key element of the proposed study. In the first instance, we are keen to attract outstanding PhD proposals concerned with well-defined case studies in the United Kingdom. However, considering the global dimension of the Covid-19 crisis, we are equally open to international case studies where a clear link to visual media can be established, and where this can be articulated in a well-defined and feasible PhD proposal.

Applicants should have a strong understanding of visual culture studies, visual communication methods and/or political propaganda. A track-record in studying one of these areas in a previous degree is highly desirable. We support PhD projects via the traditional research degree consisting of an original written thesis. Applicants from a range of backgrounds, whether that is within academia, industry, governmental, non-governmental organizations or cultural organizations are very much encouraged to apply for this opportunity.

Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the research, the proposed project is a collaboration between two schools at NTU. The successful applicant would be principally supervised by Dr. Marco Bohr, Associate Professor in Visual Communication in the School of Art & Design, as well as Dr. Colin Alexander, Senior Lecturer in Political Communications within the School of Arts & Humanities. Additional supervision expertise will be considered on a case-by-case basis and where this is appropriate. Potential applicants are welcome to contact Dr. Bohr at [Email Address Removed] for any enquiries. Successful applicants would have access to several research centres within the University including the Design Research Centre, the Centre for the Study of Inequality, Culture and Difference and the Postcolonial Studies Centre.

Those interested in applying for this PhD opportunity are welcome to send a draft proposal of circa 1,500 words (excluding a bibliography) directly to Dr. Marco Bohr for feedback and guidance. Under clear headings or subheadings, the proposal should contain the following information: the proposed title of the project, the research area, the research question(s) to be investigated including an explanation of why the proposed research area is likely to lead to high quality research outcomes, why the research area has been chosen, the methodology, the research context including references to other work in the field, the purpose and originality of the research as well as a full bibliography. For further information, please visit Research Degrees at NTU.

This opportunity is for self-funded PhD students. However, applicants are encouraged to apply for external funding and NTU will support this process if appropriate and when required.

Entry requirements

Entrants must have a Bachelors and a Master's Degree in a subject area relevant to the PhD research. Each degree must have been obtained with a minimum 2:1 classification (or international equivalent). English language fluency is essential.

How to apply

There is no application deadline for this project. For a step-by-step guide and to make an application, please visit NTU's how to apply page.

Anthropology (2) Communication & Media Studies (7) Creative Arts & Design (9) Philosophy (28) Politics & Government (30) Sociology (32)

Funding Notes

This opportunity is for self-funded PhD students. However, applicants are encouraged to apply for external funding and NTU will support this process if appropriate and when required.


BOHR, M. and SLIWINSKA, B. (eds), 2018. The Evolution of the Image: Political Action and the Digital Self, London: Routledge.
BOHR, M. 2012. “The Collapse of Ideology in Peter Kahane’s The Architects”. Hannu Salmi (ed.), Frontiers of Screen History: Imagining European Borders in Cinema, 1945–2010. London: Intellect.
Alexander, C., (ed.) (2021), The Frontiers of Public Diplomacy: Hegemony, Morality and Power in the International Sphere. New York: Routledge.
Alexander, C., (2020), “The Recognition Imperative behind Taiwan's Public Diplomacy: A Critical Study of its efforts to join the World Health Assembly”, International Journal of Taiwan Studies, 3(1)

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