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The University of Southampton

ARTD2038 Introduction to Visual Culture

Module Overview

This module is one of the common option modules that can be taken by students from all of the programmes. Whilst the learning outcomes are the same no matter which of the programmes you are following, it is likely that your output from this module will reflect the media and approaches of your programme’s disciplines and subject areas. This module is liable to bring together students from all the programmes and pathways giving you the opportunity to engage with analysis of your own and others’ ideas in a challenging and creative environment. Your overall mark for part two makes up 33% of your final degree mark.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • contemporary cultures critically contextualised;
  • key concepts and examples of contemporary art and design theory and practice;
  • how to identify and apply methods of critical, textual and visual analysis;
  • different methods of critically reflecting on and informing your work and/or ideas.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • evaluate different perspectives on the relationships between context, theory and practice;
  • develop your own standpoint in relation to current debates in art and design and relate these to your own practice and/or ideas;
  • 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 orally and visually.


The module will be addressing some key ideas that underpin contemporary art and design practice and theory. The lectures will touch upon a range of theoretical ideas including psychoanalysis, feminism, film theory and “theories of creativity”, combining close readings of short texts, screenings and a broad range of visual material. Lectures will be used to convey representations and information on the contemporary scene of art and design. Seminars and group work will allow more detailed examination of particular themes and sources through independent research, helping you to look critically at art and design objects and events with relevant texts. This will also enable you to test the terms, assumptions and propositions associated with the development of your ideas. Directed and self-directed study will enable you to focus on case studies and to develop your contact with the professional world of contemporary practice and theory. 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.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • lectures • seminars • presentations • study visit Learning activities include • lectures • seminars • group discussion • presentations • peer group learning- • study visit 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 practice, its theory and how this influences your own ideas and/or the discipline in which you operate. Feedback on your progress and development will be given by group discussions, seminars and presentations. Informal feedback will provide opportunities for peer group learning and self-evaluation. The formal assessment will be a 2500 word illustrated essay on an agreed topic. The use of illustrations will help you to develop visual research and analysis skills and to effectively present your critical engagement with visual cultural artefacts. This module’s learning and teaching methods are designed to help you broaden your understanding and explore creative possibilities within practice and theory. A study visit will enable you to see different media first hand, the context in which they are situated and allow you to learn to analyse their significance. By studying independently you will learn how to manage your time effectively outside the taught sessions. In this module outcomes of independent study will be discussed in seminars and presentations. Student-led sessions are intended to extend debate around material from lectures, seminars and workshops. These sessions give you an opportunity to participate in the delivery of the module, in which you will be able to contribute to the content and, in combination with tutorials, allow you to develop your understanding of the knowledge and methods you have explored in this module. They also help you to evaluate your thinking, practical and transferable skills.

Completion of assessment task31.5
Wider reading or practice31.5
Preparation for scheduled sessions31.5
Follow-up work31.5
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

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


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

Mirzhoeff, Nicholas (ed) (2002). The Visual Culture Reader. 

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

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

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

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

Berger, John (1972). Ways of Seeing. 

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

Manghani, Sunil (2013). Image Studies: Theory and Practice. 

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



Essay proposal


MethodPercentage contribution
Illustrated essay 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 mandatory/additional reading 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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