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The University of Southampton

ARTD1115 Critical, Cultural and Contextual Studies

Module Overview

Through a lively series of dynamic talks you will be introduced to the foundation of the historical and contextual development of Games Design & Art across the twentieth century. This broad view of design history and human computer interaction introduces you to influential groups, movements and organisations that have shaped the field as we know it, investigating influencers such as, for example, the Oulipo (a 1960s French Avante Garde group) to World of Warcraft, referencing the so called 80’s video game crash, the Amiga demo scene and Battlefield. Through an examination of the social, political and cultural influences that have shaped Games Design & Art you will add depth to your own understanding of the historical context of the profession. The talks and discussions will introduce you to methods and approaches that will inspire and help you to apply your knowledge and critique the work of others, alongside evaluating how your own ideas are informed by a critical context. You will learn to communicate your ideas in written form using relevant visual material and how to structure and publish this material online as a blog. The module will also highlight the importance of academic integrity, i.e. not misrepresenting the work of others as your own and introduce you to the range of academic conventions and study skills that you will utilise during the rest of the programme.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • the historical context and its impact on the contemporary field of games design;
  • how to undertake and use a range of research approaches from relevant learning resources to articulate your ideas;
  • the importance of contextual research and its impact on games design and art practice.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • use a written reflection too evaluate critically your ideas and contextual concepts;
  • communicate your ideas in relation to historical context and present them in a well-structured substantiated argument.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate, select and utilise suitable evidence and source material;
  • employ digital literacies to support your learning;
  • work to deadlines;
  • consider use of academic and ethical considerations.


The initial session will introduce reflective writing in relation to Games Design Studio practice and academic research methodologies followed by a series of talks and two seminar sessions that will examine the key ideas and concepts that have contributed to the development of Games Design & Art. You will be encouraged to contextualise these ideas through the discussion of key social, political and social events before extending your research using the learning resources provided by the University. After each of the sessions you will be asked to choose and respond to a pair of questions via a blog post that will utilise relevant and appropriate material. Your blog posts should evidence your developing research skills, your understanding of the historical context of your subject, how this influences the contemporary context and your ability to synthesize an informed and intelligent opinion. The blog post should be an illustrated reflection of this.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures. • Seminars. • Southampton Academic Skills Hub. • Supporting material distributed via virtual learning environments (VLE) such as Blackboard, Panopto and Bob National. • Online skills tutorials from in blogging and related digital literacies. Learning activities include: • Review and revision of material provided in lectures and VLE’s • Peer group seminar. • Shared blogging. • Using, comparing and evaluating specialist resources for Games Design & Art. • Introductions to digital literacies through lectures, blogging and materials provided within the VLEs and services such as Bob National and Relationship between the teaching, learning and assessment methods and the planned learning outcomes This module will be directed by talks that will provide the intellectual and skills framework necessary to enable you to apply critical, evaluative, reflective and contextualisation skills in the context of reflective practice. Two seminars will provide formative feedback, support your analysis of the material provided and extend your knowledge and understanding of independent research and reflective writing. Your reflective communication and digital literacies will be demonstrated through the production of a series of illustrated blog posts. Weekly activities will help you plan your time and work effectively to the module hand in. Intellectual and research skills will be supported and enhanced through the use of guidance and material distributed via our virtual learning environments such as Blackboard, Panopto, Bob National, Library Study Skills Site and

Preparation for scheduled sessions20
Completion of assessment task35
Wider reading or practice75
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Academic Skills Hub.


Bassiot, B (2016). The Reflective Journal,. 

Rettberg, J.W.,. Blogging (Digital Media Society), Polity.. 

Guardian Games.

Francis, P., (2009). Inspiring Writing in Art and Design. 

Blackboard. (via Blackboard). 

Cottrell, S., (2011). Critical Thinking Skills,. 

Belshaw, D., (2014). The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies,. 

Makhoul, A, & Morley, S. (2014).  The Winchester Guide to Keywords and Concepts for International Students in Art, Media and Design. 

Muratovski, G., (2015).  Research for Designers. 

Jenkins, H., (2006). Convergence Culture. 

Williams, K, Woolliams, M and Spiro, J, (2012). Reflective Writing.. 

Panaopto Recordings (via Blackboard). 



In-class activities


MethodPercentage contribution
Blog  () 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Blog  () 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Blog  () 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 are available in limited supply from the University Library. Students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional 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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