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The University of Southampton

ARTD3031 Visual Culture

Module Overview

This module is one of the common option modules that can be taken by students from all three of the Undergraduate 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.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • contemporary critical contexts relevant to the scope of your programme of study.
  • concepts and examples of contemporary art and design practice related to your own discipline-specific work.
  • how to apply textual and visual comprehension and analysis in both verbal and written forms.
  • how to apply informed, critical visual analysis to your own practice and the development of your ideas.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • utilise different perspectives on the relationships between context, theory and your own practice
  • develop and sustain your own standpoint in relation to debates in art and design and relate these to your own practice
  • sustain an argument
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • sustain an argument using a clear, coherent structure in a written form
  • apply some key principles of time management
  • communicate an argument in text and visually


This module aims to build on and extend knowledge gained from Visual Culture in Part Two. This module will extend the opportunities for you to critically address and affirm the location of your discipline-specific practice in a particular context. It is also designed to advance and develop your ability to critically reflect upon contemporary concepts and practices and actively engage with the use of visual and textual analysis. Further engagement with advanced practical and conceptual research processes will be promoted in order to develop visual and textual analysis, personal, intellectual and independent thinking. The critical perspectives addressed in this module are viewed from the point of view of the practitioner. For this reason, you will be taught by contemporary art and design makers drawn from across the disciplines taught in the School. The skills offered by this module can also offer a career-orientated focus for your programme and it is particularly suited to those students wishing to continue to postgraduate study. Lectures will be used to convey representations and information on the contemporary scene of art and design. Seminars, workshops and group discussions will allow more detailed examination of particular themes and sources. Practical workshops will help you to look critically at art and design objects and events and their relevant texts. They will also enable you to sustain a testing approach to 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. 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 • workshops • study visit Learning activities include • lectures • seminars • group discussion • workshops • 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 work and the discipline in which you operate. Feedback on your progress and development will be given by group discussions, seminars and workshops. Informal feedback will provide opportunities for peer group learning and self-evaluation. The formal assessment will be by a written analysis or critical essay that locates your own practice within the context of contemporary art and design and its the contexts. This will be supported by a contextual journal which should include images that you have made, short texts that you have written, research and reference material in the form of photographs, printouts and texts that indicate your thoughts regarding the relationship between the contemporary discipline and context in which you are working and you practice. This assignment is a culmination of your study in this field and should demonstrate an advanced and sophisticated competence in locating your practice within a defined theoretical and contextual framework. This module’s learning and teaching methods are designed to help you broaden your understanding and explore creative possibilities within practice. 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. Student-led sessions are intended to extend debate around material from lectures, seminars. These sessions, 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. Preparatory and on-going reading enables you to situate your work within existing literature and frameworks.

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

Resources & Reading list

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

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. 

Berger, John (1972). Ways of Seeing. 

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

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

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

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

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

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




Peer Group Feedback


MethodPercentage contribution
Illustrated essay  (3000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Illustrated essay  (3000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Illustrated essay  (3000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: ARTD2038


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. Extra costs (travel to exhibitions, books etc) may be incurred in independent research but cannot be predicted.

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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