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The University of Southampton

ARTD6158 Visual Culture

Module Overview

We live in a world that is saturated by images, from the far reaches of space to the sub-atomic level and just about everything in between. Images seem to have a special power in our lives, playing a part in the constructions of who and what we are and the ways in which we understand the world around us. Whether we like it or not we live in a ‘visual culture’ in which virtually everything is mediated by visual technologies. This module takes as its starting point the assumption that as future designers, artists and professionals in the creative industries you will be future producers as well as consumers of visual culture. You will be introduced to some of the core theoretical issues that underpin the production and consumption of visual culture including questions of what an image is, how it works, its relationship to ideology and theories of representation.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • a range of key concepts in visual culture and contemporary critical debates in art and design theory;
  • historical and contemporary contexts of the production and consumption of visual cultural artifacts;
  • broader cultural contexts in which to position your specialist knowledge and/or practice in the production and consumption of visual culture.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • demonstrate a depth of critical and analytical thinking in relation to visual cultural artifacts and their contexts;
  • identify and deploy appropriate critical approaches to the analysis of the production and consumption of visual culture;
  • extend critical approaches to the analysis of your own practice and/or specialist knowledge.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • identify and develop advanced research ideas and apply appropriate research methods;
  • formulate and express complex ideas and arguments;
  • effectively manage your own workload, meet deadlines and work independently.


Underpinning the approach to this module is the understanding that you are a future producer, as well as consumer, of visual culture. Therefore the module aims to investigate the processes and contexts of production in terms of the practices, forms, and technologies of visual culture as well as its consumption, reception and meaning. It will explore key theories and concepts in visual culture with a range of theoretical approaches taken from psychoanalysis, feminism, philosophy, political theory, art history, film studies, critical theory and others.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

In terms of learning, students will be expected, over the course of the module, to identify, analyse, and collate, a wide range of material in order to ensure that they have a thorough understanding of contemporary visual cultural theory and art and design practice. Students will also need to identify a specific area of interest that will provide the basis for an illustrated essay by the end of the module. 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 a range of contemporary visual cultural artifacts applying appropriate theoretical and analytical approaches. You will be encouraged to make links between diverse practices and theoretical approaches presented in the lectures and your own art and design practice and/or areas of specialised study. Seminars will provide opportunities for you to explore and identify these links through discussion and verbal feedback. This also provides opportunities for peer group learning and self-evaluation. During the module you will be guided in developing a topic for an illustrated 3000 word essay in preparation for which you will present your proposed topic and will receive feedback and advice. This provides an opportunity to identify and explore in depth an aspect of visual culture that is most relevant to your areas of interest.

Independent Study174
Total study time200

Resources & Reading list

Mirzeoff, N. (2015). How to See the World. 


Lymberopoulou, A. (2012). Art and Visual Culture: A Reader. 

Mirzeoff, N. (2012). The Visual Culture Reader. 

Jessica Evans and Stuart Hall (eds) (1999). Visual Culture: The Reader. 



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:


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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