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The University of Southampton

ARTD6128 Fashion Theory and Context

Module Overview

On this module you will develop your knowledge and understanding of fashion in a contemporary and historical context. It will introduce you to a range of fashion theories including the semiotics of clothing. You will explore the motivations behind fashion consumption and its links with personal identity whilst developing an understanding of fashion’s relationship to history as well as the avant-garde.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• to enable you to situate your critical and reflective thinking about fashion and fashion consumption in a contemporary and historical context; • to provide you with a range of techniques and research methods relevant to investigate fashion in a contemporary and historical context; • to support the development and application of your own originality and insight into fashion theory and context; • to develop your ability to take an international perspective with a critical awareness of current issues and developments in fashion.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • identifying and researching a specific historical or contemporary theme related to fashion;
  • fashion theory and practice related to global fashion consumption.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • apply a theoretical approach to a contemporary trend;
  • critically analyse fashion consumption related to political, social, ethical and individual business contexts.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • produce and deliver work of a professional standard;
  • communicate effectively using a range of media (for example orally, in writing and through digital media).


This module is structured around developing your knowledge and understanding of fashion. The lectures and seminars will enable you to develop your critical and reflective thinking about fashion and fashion consumption in contemporary and historical contexts, whilst providing you with techniques and research methods to support the development of your own originality and insight into the subject.

Special Features

Optional field trips will be organised so that transport to and from the venue where possible, will meet the special needs of any student. The accessibility of the venue to be visited will also be assessed and any appropriate support where possible, will be provided to students with special needs as required. Guest lectures will be delivered (subject to availability) by fashion industry and academic experts.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • Lectures • Seminars • Workshops • Tutorials • E- Learning • Independent self-study Learning activities include: • Group projects • In class group discussion/ critique • Peer learning • Team-work • Student presentations • Independent learning (this will involve independent reading, analysis of key concepts, theories, case studies, undertaking research into key topics, guided reading)

Independent Study174
Total study time200

Resources & Reading list

Hebdige, D. (1979). Subculture: The Meaning of Style. 

Mendes, V. (2010). Fashion Since 1900. 

Wilson, E. (1985). Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity. 

Breward, C. (2003). Fashion. 

Cumming, V. (2011). Understanding Fashion History. 

Websites. - Business of Fashion - Dazed and Confused digital news - LS:N Global - The home of fashion film - Vogue online

Journals. International Journal of Fashion Studies Journal of Consumer Cultures Journal of Consumer Research Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management

Rocamora A, Smellik A (2015). Thinking Through Fashion: A Guide to Key Theorists. 


Barnard, M. (2007). Fashion Theory: A Reader. 

Laver, J. (2012). Costume and Fashion: A Concise History. 

Williamson, J. (2010). Decoding Adverts: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising. 

Bruzzi, S. (1997). Undressing Cinema: Clothing and Identity in the Movies. 



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


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:

Field Trips

Additional costs to students may include: - Optional field trips (travel costs for optional field /study trips are normally not covered by the University).


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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