module specification

CP4020 - Cultures of Production (2019/20)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2019/20
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Cultures of Production
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Group Presentation 30%   (Group submission and presentation) Case Study I
Coursework 70%   (individual submission) Case Study II
Running in 2019/20 No instances running in the year

Module summary

This year-long, level 4 module, Cultures of Production, introduces students to the field of material and visual cultures with a key focus on the concept of ‘production’ of everyday physical artefacts.

In this module, students will engage with a range of theories and debates surrounding the production of the objects that contribute to our material and visual cultures. Students will investigate and analyse the history and context of the production of a wide selection of artefacts, before applying the concepts to two case studies for assessment. This will include study of the socio-cultural, political and economic factors that determine the conditions of production, differentiation and circulation.

The assessments will focus on two different case studies to help students gain knowledge and understanding of a range of contexts and sites of production. The objects of the case studies will be the artefacts that students themselves can access and study at first hand, rather than relying on secondary sources. The first assessment will draw on the university’s own archives and will help to acquire the skills of negotiating and working as part of a team, of managing time and working with archival material. The second case study – focusing on a London cultural institution – will develop skills of research, independent study and analysis.

This module will enable students to:

• identify, evaluate and apply a range of theories to the analysis of the aesthetic, cultural and ethical contexts of production;
• apply a range of research skills and methods to the study of material and visual culture;
• work as part of a team, plan, manage and record project work effectively;
• present and communicate findings convincingly.


A series of weekly lectures, seminars and study trips will help develop knowledge and critical understanding of material and visual production. LO1, LO2

The syllabus will typically begin by addressing the distinctiveness of the relatively new field of material and visual culture studies, before focusing more closely on an introduction to both the theories and critiques of Marxist theories of production. Students will then be introduced to ‘thing theory’ and its application to the everyday objects with which we surround ourselves and which help form our identities. LO1

Weekly lectures which will be complemented by an introduction in seminars and visits to working with primary resources in the university’s archives  (which could include the Frederick Parker chair collection, the TUC collection and the East End archive of photographs) and in London’s cultural institutions, which will form the basis of the second assessment. LO2, LO3

Students will be introduced to approaches to dealing with archival sources. Weekly readings and in-class exercises will focus on a range of case studies, drawn from the fields of material and visual cultures, which will help them to develop a range of approaches to dealing with everyday objects. LO2, LO4

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.

The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek 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 reflections on progress and achievement.

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.

Learning outcomes

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

1. understand and debate the theories and approaches relevant to the study of material and visual culture;
2. safely use research skills and methods with archival materials;
3. take responsibility for project planning, time management and task identification in working in groups;
4. use a range of visual, written, oral and digital techniques for appropriate communication of research findings;

Assessment strategy

The module is assessed by two case studies:

The first (group) assessment will typically introduce students to working with one of the university’s archival collections.  They will choose objects from or an aspect of one of these and present it in the form of a group report. The report will be 2000 words in length and students will also be required to present their findings in the form of a Powerpoint or other visual presentation to the rest of the seminar group. Each student will be given a role within the group by agreement, and will participate in the online discussions on Weblearn, which will be monitored by the tutor.  Students will be required to negotiate and sign an agreement of the distribution of roles within the group before beginning the assessment process.

The second assessment requires students to work individually. They will select one of London’s cultural institutions for this case study and will write a 2000 word critical essay on its history, values, purpose and identity. 

For both assessments, students will be given tutorials with the tutor to discuss drafts and to feedback on the final submissions.  These will be in small groups for the first assessment and individually for the second assessment.


Blaxter, L. et al (2006) How to Research, Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Brown, B. (2001) ‘Thing Theory’, Critical Enquiry 28 (1): 1-22.
Certeau, M. de (1984) The Practice of Everyday Life, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Clark, H. and Brody, D. (2009) Design Studies: a Reader, Oxford: Berg, especially section five ‘Labor, Industrialization, and New Technology’ and section seven ‘Design Things’.
Edwards, E. and Hart, J. (2004) Photographs, Objects, Histories: on the Materiality of Images, London: Routledge.
Manghani, S. et al (2006) Images: a Reader, London: Sage.
Maurer, B. ‘In the Matter of Marxism’, in Tilley, C. et al (eds) (2006) Handbook of Material Culture, London: Sage.
Miller, D. (ed.) (2005) Materiality, Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Prown, J.D. (1982) ‘Mind in Matter: an Introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method’, Winterthur Portfolio, 17 (1): 1-19.
Rose, G. 2012) Visual Methodologies¸ London: Sage.