module specification

CP5013 - Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (Art) (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (Art)
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 297
72 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
225 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Essay (2,500 words) with supporting visual material
Coursework 50%   Research Compendium (2,500 words) with visual material
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

Critical and Contextual Studies 2 will continue to critically engage you in the history, theory and practice of your discipline, its extent and conventions, and its broader social and material context in culture and contemporary practice. You will build on studies undertaken in Level 4 and develop into independent thinkers, capable of selecting an appropriate topic and producing a sustained piece of independent study in the form of a dissertation in Level 6.

The module aims to situate your own ideas and practice within the process of constructing knowledge about your discipline. It rehearses the analytical and discursive skills you need to become knowledgeable about the authorities, objects and methods in your field and to understand the roles, locations and responsibilities of important players within it. In particular, the module encourages you to weigh and understand the broader ethical questions relevant to your discipline, and to become conversant with the themes and current debates that animate it. The module recognises that you are an active contributor in this process: what you bring to the construction of knowledge counts – and how effectively you are able to construct and apply this knowledge depends on how well you understand the field of your discipline.

You will be encouraged to think creatively and take responsibility for the development of your own learning. Critical and Contextual Studies for second year students is structured in order to foster confidence through applying analytical skills to a growing body of knowledge, and expressing this through debate, discussion and public presentation.

Prior learning requirements

Pre-requisite: CP4013 Critical and Contextual Studies 1, or equivalent


Critical and Contextual Studies is structured in two teaching programmes of twelve weeks. Each of these programmes culminates in a summative assessment, which is gradually built through the semester through smaller tasks. The first programme begins at the start of the academic year with submission of coursework for assessment after the winter break; the second programme begins at the start of the spring semester, with submission for assessment at the end of the academic year. The two assessments are equally weighted.

Teaching and learning on the module is designed to support independent thinking and help you apply advanced research skills to explore different fields of knowledge because they particularly interest and matter to you. In addition to teaching activities that expand and deepen your understanding of your discipline, a series of research workshops throughout the year bring a specific focus to the development of skills and abilities that enable you to undertake a graduate-level dissertation in Level 6 with confidence.

You will learn how to identify a field of research for independent study; construct a topic and associated research questions; identify suitable source materials for research and develop the critical skills to assess their value. You will learn how to choose a suitable theory or method through which to address your research question, and how to structure, develop, and reference your writing.

The following themes and learning activities for Critical and Contextual Studies 2 are indicative.

Semester 1 –The Contemporary Condition

This teaching programme aims to introduce you to changing, urgently critical, sometimes contested and increasingly complex ideas that animate contemporary art practice. It sensitises you to questions relating to technology, intelligence, otherness, ecology, or questions of gender, identity and community. Foregrounding previously marginalised epistemologies, the programme seeks to construct alternative ways of looking at the role of art and artists. It specifically encourages you to take up and test out an individual position in relation to problems in contemporary society, and define how this position is expressed in your practice. The teaching syllabus foregrounds the concept of methodologies, demonstrating how different ideologies and frameworks of thought produce radically different ideas, and societies. The coursework aspect of the programme encourages you to experiment with research and writing, adopting a unique voice in response to the questions you are asking: grounded in, but at the same time expanding, testing and exploding academic conventions.

Semester 2 – Practice Research

The title of this teaching programme emphasises the close relationship between research and practice. But it also acts as an imperative, encouraging and supporting you in the development and skill needed to produce an independent graduate-level thesis in Level 6. A series of lectures and practical workshops help you identify possible fields of study, understand the learning opportunities an extended research project can afford you as a practitioner, and make you committed and invested in your research by rooting it in your individual background, interests and practice. In your coursework, you stake out a broad territory of knowledge – collecting, exploring and constellating an extensive number of relevant materials, resources and ideas. As you progress, you will actively reflect on and state the motivations that animate your research. At the same time, you will understand its limitations and the effect of the methods and methodologies you apply. The outcome of this teaching programme is not a finished essay or case study, but a Research Compendium that helps you to embark on your dissertation project in the following year with confidence, acts as a record of your learning, documents and analyses your research and writing, and represents an indicative set of research questions to take forward.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

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. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery are regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the 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.

You will be expected to continue with your studies outside of scheduled classes. To support and reinforce independent learning, information is provided through a range of means to that minimise barriers to successful progress through the module. Activities foster peer-to-peer community building and support for learning. Reflective learning is promoted through interim formative feedback points that ask you to reflect on your progress, receive help where you identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and plan the future development of your studies.

The AAD School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum will supports your personal development planning. Through these initiatives, you will increasingly be able, as you progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of your discipline, the various opportunities available to you, and how to shape your learning according to your ambitions.

Learning outcomes

On satisfactory completion of Critical and Contextual Studies 2, a number of Learning Outcomes (LOs) will have been addressed. You will:

Subject-specific Skills

1. Demonstrate advanced comparative knowledge of different aspects of your discipline, its theories and practices;
2. Understand the ethical and professional responsibilities appropriate to art practice today;

Cognitive and Intellectual Skills

3. Produce cogent oral, visual and written presentations, using appropriate scholarly methods, conventions and protocols;
4. Understand how to plan, structure and present independent research in the form of a sustained and evidenced study;

Transferable Skills

5. Use libraries, databases and other sources of information effectively, and develop appropriate methods for collecting, organising and assessing the material you gather;
6. Mange your own studies, reflecting on and responding to feedback on your own work in order to develop and improve your learning;