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The University of Southampton

UOSM2030 Body and Society

Module Overview

People are bodies. We inhabit our own bodies and relate to other people in terms of their bodies. This module brings together Archaeology, Anatomy, and Anthropology to explore a range of different disciplinary approaches to the human body in past and present. Through the exploration of a diverse range of case studies, from body donation to tattooing, and concepts of beauty to performance art, this module examines how the body has been perceived as a physical object, a social construction and as a representation. It looks at the central role of the body in mediating social relations, and how people respond to the living and the dead body in culturally and historically specific ways. This module is open to undergraduate students in all years but may be of particular interest to those in Years 2 & 3.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Having successfully completed the module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: A range of practical and theoretical approaches to investigating the human body drawn from a suite of different disciplines.
  • The culturally and historically situated nature of perceptions and responses to the body
  • The relationship between individual bodies and society
  • The human body as a complex and dynamic phenomenon
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to: Carry out independent research on the body linking image and text
  • Critically engage with, and appreciate, a range of different and contrasting approaches to the human body
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to: Appreciate the role of images in society
  • Understand issues associated with image copyright
  • Communicate and present ideas and arguments to a multidisciplinary audience


The module will be divided into a series of 3 thematic blocks, each dealing with a different aspect of the human body. Block I: The Physical Body. The treatment, management, and study of the physical body in biomedical and archaeological contexts: The history of anatomy Body donation Sexing and ageing human skeletal material Within these sessions you will be viewing cadavers and handling archaeological skeletal material. This may include practical sessions at the Centre for Learning Anatomical Sciences (CLAS) at Southampton General Hospital and the Department of Archaeology. Health and Safety and ethics for the visit to CLAS will be delivered in week 2 of the module. Students who do not attend this may not be allowed to attend the lab work in following weeks. Block 2: Social Understandings of the Body. Social understandings of the body involve a study of social interaction and cultural meaning. To do this we have to remove ourselves from our own ways of thinking about what the body is, and make an effort to understand how people live in their own skin. This block of the module examines the social construction of the body, both in life and death. The dead body in cross-cultural and historical perspectives Gender Transgender Block 3: The Body as / and Representation. We will explore how the body can be exaggerated, described and visually perceived in various ways, and how these link to different concepts of the body in a range of contexts and societies, from the earliest representations of the body in human history to the present day. Representations of the human body from the Palaeolithic through Antiquity to the Present Pushing the boundaries of the body: the body in performance art Art and aesthetics of the human body including anatomical drawing Within these sessions you may be viewing cadavers and images or film containing nudity. Alongside the thematic content the module will include a series of sessions to train you in the ethics and research skills needed to successfully complete the module. This includes ethics and health and safety for visiting CLAS, copyright issues in the use of images, a session dedicated to producing your blog, and how to prepare your photo / image essay. This includes ‘surgery’ sessions during which you can obtain formative feedback and seek advice on your essay before it is submitted at the end of week 12.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

In this module you will benefit from a combination of complementary teaching and learning methods. 1) Lectures: Each of the three themes will include thematic lectures given by an expert in the field outlining the key issues Aspects of each block will be delivered using a ‘flipped classroom model’ in which you will come to classes to discuss material you have previously looked at. This will take place within practicals, workshops or blogs focussing on case studies relating to those issues. Formative feedback will be provided to students throughout the module during the practicals and following blog posts. 2) Practicals: In the case of Block 1 (The Physical Body), following a keynote lecture the classes will include lab-based practicals with preparatory work available online. Block 3 will also include an anatomical drawing practical as a way of thinking through the representation of the body (students are not expected to be 'good at art' and will not be assessed on the quality of their art work) 3) For Blocks 2-3, following the lectures you will explore topics laid out in the lecture through a series of case studies. Preparatory work will be made available through the on-line module pack. You will be guided in your learning through a series of ‘points to think about’ in relation to that week’s material. You will then be able to bring these focussed responses to discussions on-line and in class. The use of selected case studies will provide additional focus and enable you to drill down into the issues. 4) Blog: Lectures and practicals will be used as the starting point for continued reflection by individual students through your contribution to an individual blog. You must complete 1 blog entry for each block of the module. Each entry must use one of the images in the online module resource pack as the starting point for the blog. 5) Photo / image essay: Images are all around us but students are rarely asked to engage with them in an academic context. In this module you will be encouraged to think through images, using them as a means of analysing and engaging with module content. 5) Self study: A comprehensive on-line learning resource will be made available on edshare/blackboard. In particular this will include podcasts / video material, an image library used as both a resource and a provocation for you to think through key issues and use in your blog, a study pack including digitized key readings, and guidance on ‘points to consider’. Throughout the module particular emphasis will be placed on use of visual material as a means of teaching and learning. These will be made accessible through the on-line resource pack and links to public domain web resources. You will also be encouraged to develop your creativity by creating your own images in media of your choice (e.g. drawing, animation, photography).

Wider reading or practice38
Completion of assessment task38
Practical classes and workshops8
Project supervision6
Supervised time in studio/workshop6
Preparation for scheduled sessions40
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

On-line Course Pack. An on-line course pack is available on Blackboard. This contains images, links to online resources, and key reading


Assessment Strategy

There are two summative assessments for this module. Assessment will follow the principles laid out in the University Quality Handbook. Full rubric will be circulated separately and made available on Blackboard: 1) Individual blog (1500 words) (50% of mark): a total of 3 blog entries (each entry 500 words) (one for each block of the module). Each entry must use one of the images in the online module resource pack as the starting point for the blog. Marked in terms of evidence of use of resources (reading, film/podcast, images), reflection upon module sessions, and quality of understanding. 2) Photo / Picture Essay with annotated images and discussion (1500-2000 words) (50% of mark): Marked in terms of extent of research, appropriateness and use of resources beyond those provided in the on-line research pack, quality of response to issues explored within the module, quality of presentation. You will be encouraged to use your own creativity in producing the essay to a high standard. You will be helped to construct a research timetable to enable you to complete this assessment. Guidance will also be provided on copyright issues and ethics. Formative assessment will take place through: 1) Feedback on your blog (assignment 1) 2) 2 x dedicated session to discuss photo / picture essay preparation and to give feedback to students prior to submission of this (assignment 2)


Individual comments


MethodPercentage contribution
Analytical essay 50%
Blog 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Analytical essay 50%
Blog 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3500 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:


No additional costs have been associated with this module.

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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