module specification

CP3010 - Critical & Contextual Studies: Foundation (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Critical & Contextual Studies: Foundation
Module level Foundation (03)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
210 hours Guided independent study
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Coursework 1
Coursework 80%   Coursework 2
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Wednesday Morning
Year (Spring and Summer) City Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

The module provides an introduction to a range of cultural and contextual practices and is diagnostic, helping students identify those areas of degree level study most appropriate to their needs, aspirations and abilities.  It is intended to prepare students for critical and theoretical work in high education.

The module is focused on asking questions, specifically questions that bear on architecture, art, design and media in the broad sense.  The experience of the module is framed as a whole through the final assessment item.  This is a Journal called ‘Critical Questions’.  The contents include answers to questions that range from practical or theoretical ‘how to’ or ‘what is’ exercises, to simple ‘what do you think’ form of analysis or reflection, to complex structured responses in the form of an essay. 

The module is constructed around three core blocks of intensive study. Each block has a thematic structure to allow the exploration of different topics and approaches, for example:

1. In practice
2. About context
3. Through time

Module aims

The module aims to motivate and aid the student in their desire to find out about and engage in the practice and culture of architecture, art, design, media and music technology.  The module should help inform the student about their future direction of study as well as providing useful insights into their potential and abilities.  Students learn how to ask and begin to answer questions about the discipline they are interested in and its broader context. They should acquire a portfolio of methodological, critical and writing and communication skills that will enable them to progress and know how to apply themselves to the various forms of study and assessment.


The syllabus is structured around three themes, for example:

  1. In practice
  2. About context
  3. Through time

The syllabus examines short examples of historical, theoretical material and current work in practice.  It includes texts, visual and aural material from books and journals, multi-media and internet sources and gained on visits to, for example, places of interest, events, films, plays, exhibitions, galleries, and museums.  These are undertaken as part of class activity as self-directed learning. Students will gain experience of presenting their own work and evaluating that of others and will be asked to develop aspects of their work in increasing detail as the course progresses in preparation for degree courses.

Learning and teaching

The module is organised in a sequence of three teaching and learning blocks.

The module prepares the student for the CP4010 programme by following a similar pattern of three intensive blocks.  The emphasis is on active learning and the module is organised around a series of lectures, seminars and workshops supported by online or blended learning, visits and skills workshops, individual and group presentations.  Students learn to set a brief and work towards self-direction in subject research.

Formative feedback is integrated into the teaching and learning through seminars, workshops, student presentations, in-class and on-line exercises as part of an integrated learning development strategy. The pattern of delivery and feedback and scale of the tasks in this module is short and fast and accumulative becoming longer and more reflective as the course progresses.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate good practice in relation to written work, information retrieval and presentation and communication skills;
2. Read, reflect on and discuss different kinds of written texts and other key sources of documented knowledge;
3. Articulate ideas and apply a critical understanding of material, spatial, aural or media based objects of study;
4. Work in context and contribute to effective group meetings, discussions, events and outcomes.

Assessment strategy

Each teaching and learning block provides a multifaceted programme that feeds either a composite or patchwork assessment (eg. series of 200 word reviews) or a single assessment (eg. essay). The aim is to encourage active learning and confidence in learning through multiple achievements.

The main assessment is constructed as a portfolio of components assessed at the end of the course. This enables the student to see their development as a whole as well as in parts.  The component parts and overall assessment criteria mirror the tripartite structure in CP4010 but is assembled through smaller exercises and benefits from a more immediate and interactive framework of formative feedback throughout the course.

The three assessment components each include written texts but designed to enable students to work with different modes of presentation.  The final portfolio component will include all the written exercises and a complete 1200 word essay. The portfolio will be marked against a checklist of components and their associated exercises and include an overall ‘progress and development’ category. Coursework 1 includes a 500–700 word written Learning Reflection.

Assessment criteria:
1. Application and engagement (effort, progress, care);
2. Quality of content (research, accuracy, relevance, scope);
3. Quality of presentation (English, references, terminology, literacy, protocols);
4. Effective structure (English, clarity, links, synthesis);
5. Deployment of critical and analytical skills in oral and written discussions.


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