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The University of Southampton

ARTD1075 Contemporary Issues 1

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• to introduce you to the ways in which the contemporary context and theory inform art and design practice • to introduce the ways in which artists and designers engage with ideas • to encourage you to explore your own work through critical reflection on the debates and practices of art and design and see the applicability of these to your own discipline

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • aspects of a range of contemporary issues, contexts and practices
  • major concepts related to current debates in art and design
  • some of the implications surrounding the interaction between practice and theory
  • some of the contemporary artists and or designers relevant to your work and area of study
  • different methods of critically reflecting on and informing your own programme specific practice
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • evaluate different perspectives on relationships between context, theory and practice, especially their relation to your discipline
  • consider and develop your own standpoint in relation to debates about what is happening in art and design today
  • develop and sustain an argument
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • develop an argument using a clear, coherent structure; verbally and in written form
  • apply some key principles of time-management
  • present and communicate an argument


Contemporary Issues is a core Part One module. It has been designed to facilitate your development of skills necessary for the critical development of well-informed contemporary art and design. The perspectives provided by this module can also offer a career orientation for the next stages in studying your programme. In this module, we will explore how practice is informed by context and theory. In lectures, seminars and practical workshops, we will look critically at art and design objects and events with their relevant texts. We will discuss major concepts and key positions and evaluate the relevance and significance of differing perspectives in art and design, and you will apply them accordingly to your programme of study. Through this work we will encourage you to explore practically how the current developments in art and design can inform your own programme-specific work. Lectures will be used to convey representations and information on the contemporary scene of art and design. Seminars and group discussions will allow more detailed examination of particular themes and sources. You will be encouraged to attend a study visit but it is understood that as you will have to self-finance it, it may not be possible for all students to attend for financial or other reasons, i.e. personal commitments or circumstances. An alternative comparable study visit is possible. It may be to a local or other major UK gallery that can be commuted to in one day. You will be encouraged to access what material is available online to assist in gaining a wide perspective of the art and design context relevant to your programme of study. In Part Two you will be guided on your choice of a module from a menu of option modules each of which can provide a career focus to your degree. You can receive guidance on your choice of Part Two career-orientated option module from your Personal Tutor, the Module convenor of Contemporary Issues or your Programme Leader.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • lectures • workshops • module briefings • seminars • study visit Learning activities include • lectures • module briefings • seminars • group discussion • group critiques • workshops • peer group learning • study visit • self-assessment Relationship between the teaching, learning and assessment methods and the planned learning outcomes In this module learning and teaching activities focus on helping you to investigate, question and analyse the nature of contemporary art and design contexts, its theory and how this influences discipline-specific practice, including your own. Feedback on your progress and development will be given by group discussions and seminars. Informal feedback will provide opportunities for peer group learning and self- evaluation. The summative assessment will be by way of an illustrated 2,000-word essay. This module’s learning and teaching methods are designed to help you broaden your understanding and explore practical creative possibilities. By studying independently you will learn how to manage your time effectively outside the taught sessions.

Wider reading or practice92
Completion of assessment task24
Preparation for scheduled sessions10
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Gray C & Malins J (2004). Visualising Research. A Guide for Postgraduate Students in Art and Design. 

Fletcher, Kate (2008). Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys. 

Pavitt, Jane (2008). Fear and Fashion in the Cold War. 

Agins, Terri (2000). The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever. 

Davis, Fred (1992). Fashion, Culture and Identity. 

Wood P edited by Harrison C (1992). Art in theory 1900-2000: an anthology of changing ideas. 

Bruzzi, Stella and Church Gibson, Pamela (2000). Fashion Cultures: Theories, Explorations and Analysis. 

Danto, Arthur C (1998). The wake of art: criticism, philosophy, and the ends of taste. 

Carroll D, Ed (1990). The States of theory: history, art and critical discourse. 

Benhabib Sevla (1992). Situating the self: gender, community and postmodernism in contemporary ethics. 

Lury, Celia (2011). Consumer Culture. 

Barnard, Malcolm (2002). Fashion as Communication. 

Shinkle, Eugenie (2008). Fashion as Photograph: Viewing and Reviewing Images of Fashion. 

Palmer, Alexandra (2004). Old Clothes, New Looks: Second Hand Fashion. 

Marí B and Schaeffer Jean-Marie Eds (1998). Think art: theory and practice in the art of today. 

Tungate, Mark (2005). Fashion Brands: Branding Style from Armani to Zara. 

Kocur (Z) & Leung (S). Eds. (2004). Theory in contemporary art: from 1985 to the present. 

McEvilley t (1996). Capacity: history, the world, and the self in contemporary art criticism. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Illustrated essay  ( words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Illustrated essay 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Illustrated essay 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the core/ recommended text as appropriate

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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