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Back to Film, Images & Historical Interpretation in the 20th Century: The Camera Never Lies

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Film, Images & Historical Interpretation in the 20th Century: The Camera Never Lies by University of London

352 ratings

About the Course

This course is a short taster on the topic of the use of Images, Film, and their use in historical interpretation in the 20th century. It is primarily provided for those who have a general interest in history that draws on photojournalism as primary evidence, and films based on historical events. Once you have completed this course we hope you will be equipped to: Appreciate the significance of photographs as historical evidence in the twentieth century. Understand the limitations of the medium, and how we can attribute meaning to these individual records of 'one moment in time' while taking into account the circumstances in which any particular image was taken. Understand how individuals and institutions have looked to manipulate images to their own ends – through alteration and/or censorship – and what that meant to contemporary interpretation, as well as subsequent historical interpretation. Put individual images into a wider context, and in particular with reference to history written, or portrayed, beyond academia: public history. Do be aware that part of the contents of this course regard images and depiction of war. Real wars and real images....

Top reviews


Jun 5, 2020

This course provides students with the tools they need to analyse and understand visual history along with its deceiving nature that derived from the very character of film properties.


May 18, 2021

It is a very informative course for history enthusiasts. It encourages critical thinking and interpretation of history in a unique way. I enjoyed and learned a lot in the 6 weeks.

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1 - 25 of 122 Reviews for Film, Images & Historical Interpretation in the 20th Century: The Camera Never Lies

By Angela T

Aug 1, 2017

This is an excellent course and I have really enjoyed it. The topics covered are diverse and the course has provided me with several areas for further independent research.

By Edyta R

Aug 24, 2020

Interesting subject and enjoyable time learning. I just realized how much I love learning. Thank you for this wonderful experience.

By Dee l

Nov 15, 2020

This is a very well structured course, with an emphasis on the interpretation of images and films from wars. The highlight of the course for me personally was the interview with Julio Etchart in the final week. I would have liked to have explored more of his work, and also that of other photographers throughout the 20th Century, covering a wider range of historical events, not just wars.

The tutor, Dr. Emmett Sullivan is extremely knowledgeable, and very engaging. Despite what he says, I never bored of listening to his lectures where he is purely speaking to the camera. There is so much to learn and to take in, and this course doesn't disappoint. I can highly recommend it.

A note to the course producers - several of the links given in the reading modules are no longer valid, and just lead to dead pages.

By Anamika P

Jun 8, 2020

The Course was extremely insightful, and gave a superb initiation into photojournalism and its connection to public history. The course provided critical ways of viewing an image from history, and explained how a current image could also work as a historical source.

Just a suggestion: some links provided in the reading material seem to be broken or do not open for certain locations, and the lack of availability of the prescribed matter has a negative impact on the overall understanding of the week's content, and sometimes the quiz too. Perhaps this could be verified/ rectified?

By Audrey L

Dec 27, 2017

Great material in this course, though some of the links need to be updated.

By Olga E

Jan 22, 2018

The quizzes are not related to the topic of this course at all.

By Gustavo M d A

Jun 10, 2019

disappointed, you enter is dedicated and is waiting an eternity for someone to evaluate their activities. A little sought after course, so you enter and do not know when you will receive your certificate, since there are no others to evaluate their activities

By Millie W

Jul 15, 2020

I really enjoyed this course. I signed up as I needed a few more activities related to my subject (history) on my UCAS application. Not only was it useful in that sense, I learnt so much on areas of history I had never even heard of. Recommend completely!

By David W

Apr 23, 2021

Excellent course, learn a great deal about the subject in a short time. This course and the program are great for those who strive to be life long learners.

By Mariana H L

Mar 2, 2020

Very useful and interesting.

By Akhil M

Feb 6, 2020


By Josep E

Jan 26, 2021

Overall a great course. I enjoyed it and learned a lot. Tx for the effort and great job. As a recommendation, I would encourage the usage of more cases not necessarily linked to war periods. Although I understand they are among the most intense and where the topic is actually relevant, using different more diverse themes would be very enlightening. Anyway, as said, I sincerely appreciated the seminar. Carry on, please. Warm rgds,


Barcelona, Spain


Oct 4, 2020

I quite enjoyed the course, such eye-opening things I'd never learned prior to this experience. I was a bit disappointed that we spent so much time on Clint Eastwood's films and Iwo Jima (an important timespan in history) as I'd hoped for more iconic photographs to be broken down and digested. (Lee Harvey Oswald in the garden, the Hindenburg, Stieglitz's "Steerage") but the course does follow the syllabus very well. I'm grateful for the opportunity.

By Ana M V

Jun 12, 2020

I enjoyed this course thoroughly - it gave me plenty of new insights into the study of visual discourse, which has helped bolster my own academic studies. If I were to have a single complaint (for which I have docked a star), is that a few of the links given for further reading are outdated and inaccessible. However I did not feel that this hindered my overall experience, albeit it being a tad inconvenient.

By Pol M T

Feb 7, 2019

The course is really interesting. Nevertheless, it often focuses too much in the context of historical events to finally discuss a single picture for just 5 minutes. Moreover, I've found the tests to be too much focused on really precise and sometimes anecdotical data instead of the general conclusions which, from my point of view, are a more reliable reflection of the learning success.

By Carly Z

Dec 13, 2019

About half the links in this course are broken, which is very frustrating. I found the course content itself to be very interesting, though!

By Paulo J A G

Mar 18, 2020

Good material courses. The only negative criticism is related to some repetition of content in some videos.

By elena G

Apr 10, 2020

Many of course links are erase but in the test you insert questions from thinks that is not available

By Diane Y P

Aug 20, 2022

The course did an excellent job on little known issues such as those related to Hitler's early years, Stalin's manipulation of history, the Boer War, etc. But way too much of the class was devoted to the flag raising at Iwo Jima and the subsequent book and films. Ditto the events around Black Hawk Down. We should have had a lot more variety! While the peer-assessed assignments were interesting, it's disdheartening to have your grade based on wether or not someone else looked at it. Also we should not have been asked to grade 3 or 4 other assignments - one is enough. I was not happy with the quizzes either since too many of the questions related to which person said this or that and not enough to the events and the underlying causes for manipulation of reporting. Also time was wasted on listening to grad students talking about their own research and assignments. I would still recommend this course because I learned a lot of interesting things. And if you are like me, just taking the course for fun, you can skip over the areas you're not interested in, the quizzes and assignments.

By Alan R

Apr 13, 2017

The course is really interesting, but it need a content review. Several - roughly 50% - of the links for external contents, especially when they are from newspapers, are broken.

That considered, it was a fascinating journey.

By Wade S

Apr 5, 2022

Professor from London should have porrfed his course prior to submission anf Coursera vetted for inaccuracies prior to posating. Labdeled as an arts and media couse; presented as a history/economics couse. I would have thought that this would be less oppinion heavy in contect. When I found it to be the cob=ntraty, tried to use as exercise in patience. The egregious error in mis-reading the final quote and fervently basing his argument on the mi-read quote thatHEplaced on the slide final slide of Week four, I decided yo leave the couse. As a result I wil No longer enroll in ANY courses given bt the instructor, and will more closely vet future educational options put forth by Coursera. Thank you.

By Людмила Г К

Aug 16, 2023

This course is very informative and interesting. It will be very useful to anyone interested in the history of the 20th century, the interpretation of historical events through images.

Special thanks to Dr R Emmett Sullivan Program Director, BA History, University of London International Programs Senior Departmental Tutor in History, Royal Holloway, University of London and the Coursera educational platform for providing the opportunity to gain new knowledge.

By José G K

Jan 23, 2022

I found the course very interesting in general, I think it meets the objectives that are defined and that I was interested in. One recommendation, take the time to review and update the links to different sites that are recommended to access to complement the content seen in the videos. Many of them are links to private or restricted access sites or definitely to content that is no longer available.

By Leslie S

Sep 17, 2020

Enormously grateful to Emmett Sullivan for such amazing insight. This should be a GE course for all liberal arts colleges worldwide. Indeed, the camera never lies. Was not entirely satisfied with the randomly picked peers for review. Would have preferred a group of peers with similar competencies who understood the rubric.

By Bharati B

Jul 29, 2020

This course is a wonderful exploration of historical interpretation of image manipulation or alteration. It was a splendid journey with Professor Emmett Sullivan to understand how history unfolds in front of the camera and how films can be considered as 'public history'. A good course for students of cinema studies, indeed.