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The University of Southampton

ARTD1119 Historical and Critical Contexts

Module Overview

This module is designed to provide you with knowledge of the historical and contextual development of graphic arts across the twentieth century. It introduces key ideas and concepts that will inform your practical work through an examination of the social, political and cultural debates within a historical and critical context. Through a range of relevant discussions, we will introduce you to methods and approaches that will inspire you to challenge the work of others and to form critical and contextual awareness to evaluate ideas. We will also introduce you to the importance of academic integrity, i.e. not misrepresenting the work of others as your own, and to the academic conventions that you will utilise during the rest of the programme. Theory based modules such as this one will allow you to draw upon a broader range of knowledge and reference when approaching your practical work. The relationship between practice and theory and how they can inform each other will start to become evident.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • key historical and contextual developments related to graphic arts.
  • the broad social, environmental and ethical dimensions of graphic arts.
  • the importance of contextual research.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • begin to inform your practice through reflection of your research and relevant critical and contextual concepts.
  • start to apply critical enquiry and reflection to evaluate your work.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • employ digital literacies to support your learning.
  • plan your time effectively and work to deadlines.
  • communicate your ideas in writing and utilise supporting visual material effectively.


Indicative content for this module normally includes: introductory sessions will demonstrate recognised academic research approaches, you will progress to examine the key ideas and concepts that have contributed to the development of graphic arts historically. You will be encouraged to contextualise these ideas before developing your research further by using the learning resources provided by the University. Lectures where you will be asked to respond to a series of questions via a blogpost that will utilise relevant visual material. Creation of blogposts that will evidence your developing research skills, your understanding of the historical context of your subject and how this influences the contemporary context of the Graphic Arts.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures • Seminars • Supporting material distributed via online learning environments such as Blackboard and Panopto. • Online tutorials via Learning activities include: • Peer group discussion • Review and revision of material provided within the lectures. • Guided independent research • Written communication and the creation of a series of blogposts. • Study skills hub • Relationship between the teaching, learning and assessment methods and the planned learning outcomes This module will be directed by lectures that will support the development of the intellectual rigor necessary to enable you to apply critical, evaluative, reflection and contextualisation skills in the context of your ideas and work. Seminars and tutorials will enable you to analyse material provided and extend your knowledge and understanding via independent research. Written communication and digital literacies will be enhanced by the production of a series of illustrated blogposts. Tutorials will help you plan your time and work effectively to deadlines. Intellectual and research skills will be supported and enhanced using guidance and material distributed via virtual learning environments such as Blackboard, Panopto and

Wider reading or practice79
Completion of assessment task27
Preparation for scheduled sessions20
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Heller, Steven & Chwast Seymour (2008).  Illustration. A Visual History.. 

Heller, Steven. (2011). Iron Fists. Branding the Totalitarian State.. 

Blackboard (E:learning).

Design Observer.

Ruder, Emil. (2009). ‘Typografie, A Manual of Design’ Sulgen. 

Helvetica.. The movie.

Armstrong. H (2014). Graphic Design Theory. 

academic skills.

The library Academic Skills website.

Hoffman, Armin (2004).  ‘Graphic Design Manual. Principles and Practice’. 

McQuiston, Liz (2006). Graphic Agitation.. 

Eskilson, Stephen J.. Graphic Design, A New History.. 

Eye. the International Review of Graphic Design..

Muller Brockmann, Josef (1995). The Graphic Artist and his Design Problems.. 

McLuhun, M & Fiore, Q. (2016). The Medium is the Massage. 

panopto. via blackboard

Poynor, Rick. (2006). Communicate. Independent British Graphic Design. 

Aynsley, J. (2004). Pioneers of modern graphic design. 

EdShare - (This will house most of your teaching materials, videos, slides and documents).

Hollis, Richard. (2007). Swiss Graphic Design.. 

Poynor, R. (2013). No more rules. 

Meggs, Phillip B. Meggs’ (2006). History of Graphic Design. 

study skills.

Triggs, T. and Atzmon, L. (2016). The graphic design reader. 



Blog and feedback contributions


MethodPercentage contribution
Blog/written assignment  () 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Blog/written assignment  () 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Blog/written assignment  () 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 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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