This course focuses on the study of the specific nature, the structure and the functioning of visual images. A systematic exploration of image and meaning is followed by a cultural-historical introduction to the emergence of the photographic image. The following topics are dealt with successively: the unique but problematic relationship between images and reality, various image types and their specific possibilities and limitations, the possibilities of a visual l'anguage' used by the static and the moving image, the paradigmatic and syntagmatic structure of images, the possible codes and meanings of images at the level of the image carrier, the frame, the shot, and the editing/montage. Several theoretical and analytical frameworks for looking at images from different fields of application (advertising, fiction film, art, family photography) are discussed e.g. semiotics, rhetoric, iconology. Finally, the course addresses the issue of the societal (e.g. ethical, legal, social) and expressive impact of the rapid transition from analogous to digital image recording and processing. In the dissection of the structure and potential meaning of the image, due attention is paid to the production and reception context and the broader cultural entrenchment of images and visual practice. The final part of the course focusses on non fiction image theories and practices.