module specification

CP4015 - Critical & Contextual Studies 1 (Interiors) (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Critical & Contextual Studies 1 (Interiors)
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
72 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
228 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Portfolio of written work (2,500 words)
Coursework 50%   Essay/ case study (2,000 words)
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

The module aims to orient and critically engage you in the history and theory of your discipline, to examine its scope, conventions, and broader social and material context in culture and practice. The overarching purpose of this is to enable a greater ability to think through and develop your studio practice, enriching it with knowledge and ideas gained from study of the contexts in which it is framed. You will be encouraged to explore issues relevant to your own background and identity.

The module will help you to reflect on what you see and experience, and to find connections between different ideas that have shaped your discipline. In particular, the module investigates how ideas about practice in your field might be framed, for example in relation to history, the economy, cultures, society and the environment, through both theory and practice. You will be encouraged to question received ideas and to broaden your thinking and understanding of the global and previously marginalised contexts and histories of your discipline. The current and historic practice, impacts and implications of your discipline in relation to matters of sustainability, equity and accessibility will also be a focus of your studies.

The module will begin to introduce you to a range of academic skills needed to produce a graduate level study (a dissertation) in your final year. It will help you to develop and define your own interests, and to reflect on and take responsibility for the development of your own learning.

Prior learning requirements

Available for Study Abroad? NO


Critical and Contextual Studies 1: Interiors is structured as two teaching periods of twelve weeks each, in the autumn and spring semesters. The first period begins at the start of the academic year with submission of work for assessment after the winter break, the second period begins at the start of the spring semester, with submission for assessment at the end of the academic year. The assessments are equally weighted.

One of the two periods will study the histories of your discipline, the other will investigate the practice of your discipline in its context.

In this first year of your course, learning about the history and theory of interior design will enable you to understand the broader social cultures and contexts for interior design, and to understand the physical sites (domestic, retail, corporate, etc.) relevant to practice. As well as thinking about historic sites, different models for ethical and sustainable practice (for example adaptive reuse) and the importance of inclusivity and equity in interior design will be addressed. You will be encouraged to question and broaden your thinking, asking questions that will allow for meaningful examination, not just of white, western histories but also the histories of black and marginalised populations around the world. Spaces, buildings and interiors that in the past were not thought of as having value in the context of interior architecture, design and decoration, such as those found in the global south will be discussed. You will be encouraged to explore issues relevant to your own background and cultural context. 

Teaching period 1
The History of Interior Architecture, Interior Design and Interior Decoration

The first teaching period is a survey course that introduces the history of interior design in the context of architecture and society. It discusses the professionalisation of interior design and architecture from the eighteenth century to the present, in parallel with the gathering pace of modernity and, critically, what is meant by ‘modernity’ in this context.  Teaching includes guided visits to sites and institutions, using London as an extended classroom. These visits are supported by the use of set readings and talks, films and documentaries which will offer background to each period discussed.  In this way  interior design will be set broadly in its stylistic, social and political context. In addition to encouraging growing confidence in exploring and interpreting different text-based sources, students are introduced to using visual material for research through classroom and self-guided work. Visual analysis and readings will be used to help develop critical thinking skills, and to learn how to express ideas clearly. Students will be introduced to a range of political, social, architectural and interior design histories to draw from as a mental library to aid their studio practice.
(Learning Outcomes 1-6)

Teaching period 2
Interior Design Context and Practice

During the second teaching period you will work on a project designed in tandem with studio teaching to underpin the relationship between practice and academic study. This part of the module introduces you to the subject and practice of interior architecture, interior design and interior decoration through live and recent examples of critical elements of interior design practice, including adaptive reuse and design for community spaces. Key contemporary themes such as sustainability and inclusivity will be addressed, as will an awareness that differently abled, gendered, sexual, ethnic and religious contexts must be considered in the practice of interior design. Notions such as ‘public’ and ‘private’ spaces and abstract ideas such as ‘thresholds’ are introduced in order to broaden conceptual thinking and creative approaches to practice.

Illustrated talks, workshops, guided visits, and lectures and seminars utilising film, podcast and documentary resources as well as traditional academic sources will enable you to explore ideas relevant to these key areas of practice. Working in groups and individually you will practise a range of study and project management skills and methods used to communicate within the industry and beyond, to its range of users and intended audiences.  During this teaching period additional study skills such as research methods and referencing workshops will be introduced and there will also be support for designing group presentations in order to develop organisational and speaking skills as well as team-working.
(Learning Outcomes 1-6)

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching provides the guidance and foundation to ensure that independent study is effective in addressing the module’s learning outcomes and assessment tasks.

In-class activity makes use of varied student-centred approaches such as active, flipped and blended learning, so that a range of learning strategies is deployed, and individual learning styles are accommodated. Information is provided through a range of means and sources to minimise and remove barriers to successful progress through the module. The course team seeks to embed the University’s Education for Social Justice Framework in fostering learning that is enjoyable, accessible, relevant and that takes account of the social and cultural context and capital of its students.

Activities foster peer-to-peer community building and support for learning. Reflective learning is promoted through interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, receive help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including written reflections on progress and achievement.

The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-based learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal and career 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.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module you will be able:

Cognitive intellectual abilities

1. to articulate a critical understanding of the objects of your study, using suitable  written and visual forms of presentation, appropriately using specific terms, language, and academic referencing;
2. to discuss the relationship between the theories and practices of  your discipline;
3. to read, analyse and interpret written texts and other artefacts, such as images, environments and objects, understanding that they are produced with cultural bias;

Knowledge and understanding

4. to demonstrate familiarity with the scope of your discipline and its historical, social, cultural, economic, ethical and environmental contexts;

Subject specific skills

5. to use libraries, databases and other sources of information effectively and develop appropriate methods for collecting, organising and assessing material gathered;

Transferable skills,

6. to manage your own studies, reflecting on and effectively responding to feedback on your work in order to develop and improve your learning.