Course specification and structure
Undergraduate Course Structures Postgraduate Course Structures

UDMAVICU - BA Material and Visual Culture

Course Specification


Validation status Validated
Highest award Bachelor of Arts Level Honours
Possible interim awards Bachelor of Arts, Diploma of Higher Education, Certificate of Higher Education, Bachelor of Arts
Total credits for course 360
Awarding institution London Metropolitan University
Teaching institutions London Metropolitan University
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Subject Area Design
Attendance options
Option Minimum duration Maximum duration
Full-time 3 YEARS  
Part-time Day 6 YEARS  
Course leader Christopher Emmett

About the course and its strategy towards teaching and learning and towards blended learning/e-learning

BA (Hons) Material and Visual Culture is an innovative, cross-disciplinary course that explores the objects, artefacts and images with which we surround ourselves and which help shape our identities, both cultural and personal. The course is concerned with the way that artefacts form part of wider signifying systems, for example in their connections beyond the field of visual and material culture into public life, literature or religion, to scientific, economic, social or philosophical discourses, or to other shared beliefs or behaviours, and will explore the relationship between the affective qualities of artefacts and their position in systems of cultural value. The course will be interested in considering possible future modes of not only design, production and simple consumption of goods and other objects, but of new types of ownership, of new relationships between society and its possessions, and relationships between systems of objects themselves.

Consideration has been given to the following: the Subject Benchmark Statement (History of Art, Architecture and Design, 2017), the HE Qualification Framework, the University’s Strategic Plan and Student Charter, the University’s Undergraduate Regulations, the views and feedback of students, external examiners and employers/ clients, developments within the subject area, and the changing needs of the cultural/ commercial sectors and professions. Due consideration has also been given to inclusivity in course and assessment design.

Embedded in the Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design, the course draws on the strengths of teaching staff from across the School and the wide circle of academic and cultural contacts and collaborators attached to the School and University.

Embedded in the Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design, the course draws on the strengths of teaching staff from across the School and the wide circle of academic and cultural contacts and collaborators attached to the School and University. At the intersection of the study, practice and curation of design, craft, art and applied arts, the emphasis will be on the study of the production, consumption, function and distribution of everyday objects and the use to which they have been put, both by their original users and by later collectors, cultural institutions and arbiters of taste or histories of design. The study of the made world can provide a unique perspective on issues of identity, and on the making and sustaining of underlying cultural values across a very wide range of geographical and historical contexts. Students will study objects such as souvenirs, record collections, clothing, domestic products and family photographs as well as some of the more familiar and recognisable products of our societies. They will be actively encouraged to examine, curate and narrate their own histories. Although it is a course that is largely driven by ‘ideas’, some of what students will produce will have a practical element, although no prior skills are required. Students will develop curatorial and publishing skills: in their final year, students will be work independently on a major project in which they will design and manage their own research programme and present it in one of a variety of formats, for example a book or an exhibition.
The course is underpinned by regular visits to some of London’s key museums and galleries, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum as well as less well-known collections like the Hunterian Museum and the Horniman Museum. A key strength of the course is that it will uncover aspects of ‘hidden’ London: overlooked, neglected and marginalised histories found in archives, reserve collections and secret places. The emphasis will be on considering the forgotten histories of objects both through a close study of artefacts and a consideration of their representation. Students will have opportunities to work closely with the university’s own archives: for example the TUC collection (especially banners, posters and badges), the East End archive of photographs and the Frederick Parker collection of chairs, and with the archives and collections of our cultural and industry partners, such as City of London Livery Companies.
Students will draw on the experience and skills of School staff, visiting speakers, industry practitioners, curators and archivists who will ensure the currency of the course and help with the identification and development of career opportunities after graduation. Students will also have access to the wide range of School facilities in all areas of creative practice, from traditional technologies such as letterpress, ceramics, textiles, wood and metal to digital design, 3D printing and sound and moving image.

Provision within this field builds upon and relates to a well-established School academic, research, practice and professional reputation. The School has a long-held principle of delivering education through practice and of considering the design and production of the made world as core to its mission. This course proposes to enhance and widen the approaches to such these fields of interest, and contribute to the School’s academic, cultural and creative life.

The course seeks to provide and foster:

• learning through direct experience and study of physical artefacts in their current and historical contexts, adopting a cross-disciplinary approach;
• a culture of independent thought, encouraging the challenging of received ideas and practice;
• assignments and projects that make use of London’s material world and heritage as a site for research;
• live projects engaging with external partners, institutions and companies that create a realistic environment of professional expectations for students, potentially leading to placements and graduate employment;
• engagement across the School and University, providing opportunities for collaborative project work during study;
• hybrid practice, connecting academic, creative and curatorial practice;
• a practical and critical stance on issues of creativity, heritage and areas that are now termed the creative or cultural industries.


Teaching methods include: lectures, seminars, tutorials, external visits, live briefings and feedback from partners, group critiques, workshops and opportunities for studio practice. Teaching and learning will adopt a student-centered approach. The course team will be comprised of School and University academic staff with input from practitioners, visiting tutors, and contributions from external experts and specialists. Each year of study comprises of four year-long (30 credit) modules, of which one specifically allows the opportunity to create, manipulate, examine, curate and exhibit visual and/ or material objects.

Lectures provide and encourage a critically informed view of a topic, contextualising the subject and illustrating applied approaches. Lectures provide students with a managed introduction to a theme, enabling them to continue with suggested or directed self-study.

Seminars enable students to debate and explore subjects, questions and assignments with peers and tutors, encouraging an open and collaborative approach to shared learning.

Tutorials support individual learning, allowing for individual approaches to study, and catering for individual interests. Tutorials can be diagnostic or can support specific assignment or project-related questions, and support differing student paths to achievement of learning outcomes.

External visits offer opportunities for vital direct experience with objects and sites of study, and to communicate with and learn from experts and specialists attached to partner institutions and bodies.

Live briefings and feedback are an important aspect of work-based learning, exposing students to experience of professional ways of working, of professional expectations of standards, and of the most current professional practice.

Critiques allow students to benefit from feedback on their own and others’ work, to contribute to that feedback, and are a valuable part of the peer-to-peer learning that is a core expectation and reason for University study.

Workshops offer students opportunities to engage in creative practice. It is a premise of this course that the design and production of material and visual artefacts and the study of those artefacts are not mutually exclusive activities. Opportunities will be available to students to experience workshop and studio practice relevant to their assignments or collaborative projects.

Blended learning will be employed to facilitate flexible approaches to learning, to further collaborative research activity, to monitor progress through assignments and share the outcomes of projects.

Digital Literacy is embedded in the curriculum through the use of the VLE and in curriculum delivery and expectations of digital capabilities as appropriate to task set and the level of study. Students make use of digital platforms alongside traditional approaches to research, develop and communicate their projects.


Project briefs develop from year to year in accordance with contemporary practice and opportunities for engagement with external partners that arise. Disciplinary research skills are embedded at the beginning of the course, and are built upon each academic year to ensure the maximum exploitation of the learning opportunities that projects and assignments offer. Students will graduate with a portfolio of work that will include written work and outcomes that exhibit analyses through the creation, manipulation, exami

Course aims

The aims of this course are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality Assurance Agency’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. The course aims to:

1. deliver a high quality education in material and visual culture studies that will ensure graduates are knowledgeable about their chosen specialism in the field and creative in their approach to analysis and communication;

2. enable graduates to observe, describe, analyse and interpret the objects of study as artefacts in their own right and in the contexts in which they are found, using formal and established research methods, and innovative hybrid and cross-disciplinary methodologies;

3. foster critical enquiry and understanding of the cultural, psychological, political, technological and economic factors related to the production, consumption and distribution of artefacts;

4. develop the confidence and judgement required to discriminate between alternative theories, arguments and approaches and to synthesise evidence or ideas of different sorts, or from different sources, into a coherent whole;

5. ensure the ability to communicate information, arguments and ideas cogently and effectively within a range of discourses as appropriate to particular audiences, through a range of means;

6. produce graduates who can work independently, manage their own time and tasks and those of others, reflect objectively on their own performance, and plan effectively for the future, including for their careers;

7. enable graduates to understand and use a range of information retrieval and management strategies, and archival practices and procedures;

8. support self-reliance and commitment to personal and professional development, ensuring that graduates remain well-informed about current and developing thought and practice, and therefore maintain their employability.

Course learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

Knowledge and Understanding

1 demonstrate a broad and comparative knowledge and understanding of the visual and material culture of more than one culture and/or chronological period, with a deep knowledge of one or more chosen specialist fields (CA1,2,3);

2 explain and critique the processes through which artefacts are constructed in the cultures studied, and interpret their meanings and contexts, through the application of appropriate theorised research methods (CA2,3,4);

3 engage with the complex concepts, values and debates that inform study and research in the subject area (CA3,4,5)

Cognitive Intellectual Abilities

4 deploy the capacity for critical, effective and verifiable information retrieval, evaluation and organisation relevant to a given task (CA2,5,6,7);

5 discriminate between alternative theories, arguments and approaches and synthesise evidence or ideas of different sorts or from different sources into a coherent whole (CA4,5);

6 apply knowledge and critical thinking resourcefully in complex and open-ended contexts, assimilating unfamiliar artefacts, issues and ideas, and produce a personal but evidence-based analysis or response (CA2,4,5);

Transferable Skills

7 communicate information, arguments and ideas cogently and effectively within a range of discourses as appropriate to particular audiences, through a range of means (CA4,5);

8 work independently or as part of a group, manage their time and tasks, reflect objectively on their performance, and plan effectively for the future, including for their careers (CA6,8);

9 be self-reliant and committed to personal and professional development, ensuring that they remain well-informed about current and developing thought and practice, maintaining their employability (CA6,8);


Subject-Specific Practical Skills

10 use critical skills of visual observation, description, recording and interpretation (CA1,2,3);

11 evaluate and apply a range of different research, analysis and communication methodologies and approaches appropriate to the subject (CA4,5);

12 know how and where to locate and access expertise and primary and secondary evidence and sources (CA1,7).

Course learning outcomes / Module cross reference

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

Knowledge and Understanding

1 demonstrate a broad and comparative knowledge and understanding of the visual and material culture of more than one culture and/or chronological period, with a deep knowledge of one or more chosen specialist fields (CA1,2,3);

2 explain and critique the processes through which artefacts are constructed in the cultures studied, and interpret their meanings and contexts, through the application of appropriate theorised research methods (CA2,3,4);

3 engage with the complex concepts, values and debates that inform study and research in the subject area (CA3,4,5)

Cognitive Intellectual Abilities

4 deploy the capacity for critical, effective and verifiable information retrieval, evaluation and organisation relevant to a given task (CA2,5,6,7);

5 discriminate between alternative theories, arguments and approaches and synthesise evidence or ideas of different sorts or from different sources into a coherent whole (CA4,5);

6 apply knowledge and critical thinking resourcefully in complex and open-ended contexts, assimilating unfamiliar artefacts, issues and ideas, and produce a personal but evidence-based analysis or response (CA2,4,5);

Transferable Skills

7 communicate information, arguments and ideas cogently and effectively within a range of discourses as appropriate to particular audiences, through a range of means (CA4,5);

8 work independently or as part of a group, manage their time and tasks, reflect objectively on their performance, and plan effectively for the future, including for their careers (CA6,8);

9 be self-reliant and committed to personal and professional development, ensuring that they remain well-informed about current and developing thought and practice, maintaining their employability (CA6,8);


Subject-Specific Practical Skills

10 use critical skills of visual observation, description, recording and interpretation (CA1,2,3);

11 evaluate and apply a range of different research, analysis and communication methodologies and approaches appropriate to the subject (CA4,5);

12 know how and where to locate and access expertise and primary and secondary evidence and sources (CA1,7).

Principle QAA benchmark statements

Subject Benchmark Statement; History of Art, Architecture and Design (2017)

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy for the course has been designed holistically, to ensure manageable timing, workloads and clarity of expectations for students, and to avoid duplication of assessment of learning outcomes.

The assessment regimes for the modules and tasks are designed together with the briefs, prior to the start of the year, taking into account student, external examiner, professional collaborator and colleague feedback from previous instances. The requirements of briefs and their components, the assessment criteria, grading scheme and descriptors are published and explained to students at the start of the year and are designed to be used as consistently as possible, to avoid unnecessary complication. Assessment is related to the achievement of learning outcomes; qualification frameworks and subject benchmark statements are consulted to ensure clear language that is appropriate to level of study. Students are informed of the procedures for first, second and parity marking, and external examiner scrutiny of the assessment process and marks, to ensure that they understand and have confidence in the probity of the process and security of the final marks.

In every case, there is required formative assessment and feedback prior to summative assessment at set points. This is recorded so that it can be used by both students and staff to track further progress and engage support where it is required. Feedback follows good pedagogic practice in that it is constructed as ‘feed-forward’, with a focus on specific actions and strategies as to how to improve, not only on what requires improvement. Challenge to students is managed, so that students performing well in-year are encouraged to strive for excellence, while those performing less well experience clear, targeted and structured guidance, including notice of where they are doing well or are showing potential.

The course adheres to the University’s requirements for assessment and feedback turnaround times and to academic regulations for marking and second making sampling. Additionally, the course engages in Subject and School parity exercises to ensure that assessment standards are consistent. This is especially important in relation to studio delivery through which students on the same modules will be undertaking differing projects.

Organised work experience, work based learning, sandwich year or year abroad

Employability skills are integrated throughout the course. Engagement with our external partners gives undergraduates the chance to experience and participate in the opportunities, problems and pressures of professional working life while working in teams with others. Experience of real working environments supports the understanding of professional standards and increases students’ confidence in their potential, and the currency of their skills and knowledge.

During their final year, students are expected to work independently towards completion of a professional quality portfolio of both written and made, curated or exhibited work. Students are encouraged, should they wish, to develop an entrepreneurial approach during the course and to apply for and participate in subject-specialist work placements, as well as looking for informal opportunities to gain professional experience appropriate to their interests and career plans.
Work-related learning is an integrated and mandatory part of the course, with at least 70 hours working on live projects for real organisations delivered through placement, live briefs and real entrepreneurial activities built into the course. The level six module ‘Collections’ is designated as the placement or work-related learning module. Students will experience a competitive recruitment process or pitching for opportunities, and they will be required to reflect on their experience of the project and undertake forward career action planning.

Course specific regulations

ACADEMIC PROGRESSION: As a condition of progressing from level 4 to 5 and level 5 to 6, students are required to have gained 120 credits per level, that is, by achieving pass marks (40%) in all four modules in the preceding level of study.

COURSE COMPLETION
Level 6: In order to achieve an honours degree award on this course, students must have completed and passed each Level 6 module at 40% or above.

PART-TIME MODE OF STUDY
Part-time study is defined as 60 credits per year. Consequently, in part-time mode, the duration of study for a 360-credit degree will be 6 years. The pattern of study in this instance shall be as follows:

Year 1: CP4020 Cultures of Production, DN4012 Taste

Year 2: DN4013 Things, DN4014 Practice: Interpretation (Object and Display)

Year 3: CP5020 Cultures of Consumption, DN5016 History, Memory and Nostalgia

Year 4: DN5017 Images, DN5018 Practice: Manipulation (Portfolio)

Year 5: CP6013 Critical & Contextual Studies (3) Dissertation (Art) , DN6026The Body, Perception and the Senses

Year 6: DN6027 Collections, DN6028 Practice: Curation (Exhibition)

Modules required for interim awards

Year 1/ Level 4 core modules:

CP4020 Cultures of Production
DN4012 Taste
DN4013 Things
DN4014 Practice: Interpretation (Object and Display)

Year 2/ Level 5 core modules:

CP5020 Cultures of Consumption
DN5016 History, Memory and Nostalgia
DN5017 Images
DN5018 Practice: Manipulation (Portfolio)


Year 3/ Level 6 core modules:

CP6013 Critical and Contextual Studies (3) Dissertation (Art)
DN6026 The Body, Perception and the Senses
DN6027 Collections
DN6028 Practice: Curation (Exhibition)

Arrangements for promoting reflective learning and personal development

The course emphasises reflective learning, embedded in research and studio projects, to develop self-motivated graduates, equipped with critical awareness and flexibility and constantly evolving subject expertise, vital for future employability.

The School’s system of curriculum delivery embeds reflective learning and personal development planning throughout the course.

Most summative assessment is at the end of year-long modules, with several formative assessment points formally instituted in the course of the year. At these interim formative assessment and feedback points, students reflect on their progress to date with their peers and course staff (with the benefit of feedback from professional partners), seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. The feedback and student reflection is recorded and forms an action plan for the next period of study.

This system is highly individualised, but also benefits from peer engagement in critiques. The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Throughout the modules and the course therefore, in this way, students build bodies of work, including reflections on progress and achievement, and planning for their future achievement of targets.

Career, employability and opportunities for continuing professional development

This course will prepare you for a wide range of possible careers. As well as providing you with the transferable attributes expected of all humanities graduates, sought after by employers of many kinds, you will be especially well prepared for careers in the cultural institutions sector, in commercial galleries, as gallerists and curators, for careers in education, journalism and publishing, and for entry to postgraduate education.

Career opportunities

This course addresses the skills gap that employers are looking for in graduates, including leadership, planning and management with innovation, creativity and diagonal thinking (popular with advertising companies).

Many of our graduates apply for work in cultural institutions or commercial galleries or even become freelance curators. There are many employment and self-employment opportunities in art, design, culture journalism, publishing and media and education.

We also have students who go on to further study or research on courses such as our Curating the Contemporary MA and MA by Project.

Entry requirements

In addition to the University's standard entry requirements, you should have:

  • a minimum grade C in three A levels or minimum grades BC from at least two A levels in relevant humanities, art and design subjects (or a minimum of 96 UCAS points from an equivalent Level 3 qualification, eg BTEC National, OCR Diploma or Advanced Diploma)
  • English Language GCSE at grade C (grade 4 from 2017) or above (or equivalent)

We encourage applications from international/EU students with equivalent qualifications.

We also accept mature students with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We are proud of the fact that many of our students are career changers, finding their calling later in life. Formal qualifications are not always necessary since life and work experience can be considered, and commitment and enthusiasm are key factors. In such cases, we ask for a CV and supporting letter.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2017/18 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 07 Jun 2017 Last validation date 07 Jun 2017  
Sources of funding HE FUNDING COUNCIL FOR ENGLAND
JACS codes P300 (Media Studies): 100%
Route code MAVICU

Course Structure

Stage 1 Level 04 September start Not currently offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
CP4020 Cultures of Production Core 30        
DN4012 Taste Core 30        
DN4013 Things Core 30        
DN4014 Practice: Interpretation (Object and Display) Core 30        

Stage 2 Level 05 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
CP5020 Cultures of Consumption Core 30        
DN5016 History, Memory and Nostalgia Core 30        
DN5017 Images Core 30        
DN5018 Practice: Manipulation (Portfolio) Core 30        

Stage 3 Level 06 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
CP6013 Critical & Contextual Studies 3: Dissertation (... Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR WED AM
DN6026 The Body, Perception and the Senses Core 30        
DN6027 Collections Core 30        
DN6028 Practice: Curation (Exhibition) Core 30