module specification

CP5015 - Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (Interiors) (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (Interiors)
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 294
75 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 33%   Essay
Coursework 33%   Case Study
Coursework 34%   Essay
Running in 2022/23

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

Module summary

Critical and Contextual Studies 2 continues to orient and critically engage students in the history and theory of their discipline, its extent and conventions, and its broader social and material context in culture and contemporary practice. It builds on studies undertaken in Level 4 and prepares students as 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 continues to situate the student within the process of constructing knowledge about their discipline, its history, context, and its professional and ethical dimension. It rehearses the analytical and discursive skills students need to become knowledgeable about the authorities, objects and methods in their field; to understand the roles, locations and responsibilities of important players whilst examining the broader ethical questions relevant to their discipline; and to become conversant with current debates across the subject area. This process may be approached from the point of view of the producer or consumer, the critic or the professional, the academic or the practitioner.

Students are encouraged to think creatively and to take responsibility for the development of their own learning. The module recognises that the student is also an active contributor in the process: what students bring to the construction of knowledge counts – and how effectively they construct this knowledge depends on how well they understand the field of their discipline.

Prior learning requirements

Completion and pass (120 credits) of prior level


The module offers a sequence of three intensive teaching blocks structured to include surveys in the history of their discipline, research and writing workshops, seminars, library sessions, visits and tours in addition to guided independent learning. Each of these blocks culminates in a summative assessment. Assessments include a range of different modes of written assignments such as presentations, case studies and essays. The syllabus and assessments are designed to support the development of academic skills, including inductions to using libraries and archives, critical reading skills, presentation skills, writing skills, working with feedback, avoiding plagiarism, referencing, as well as note taking, planning and time management skills. The following themes and activities are indicative.

Interior Architecture, Design and Decoration in Society LO1–5

This teaching block is designed to facilitate student engagement with one of the key areas of design within their discipline – the domestic interior, and within this concepts of the ‘everyday’. It engages with fundamental types of domestic experience, but also requires students to consider what makes  ‘home’ and conversely situations and dwelling spaces that are ‘not home’.  It examines the psychology of home-making as human instinct but also explores situations which have questioned and offered to disrupt conceived norms, for example through a consideration of gender studies. The block further addresses global perspectives and considers the home in marginalised contexts such as the informal settlement, refugee centre and life in post-crisis situations, requiring students to reflect upon the essential considerations for designing domestic spaces.

Professional Practice: Duties, Constraints and Organisation LO1–5

This teaching block furthers the student’s understanding of an interior architect/designer relationship to their wider field of practice, the construction industry and related professionals, specialists and experts. The timing of this block coincides with two weeks of industry internships during which self-guided reflection is expected to be undertaken alongside formal teaching. Explorations of what ethical practice might mean in various contexts provides the underpinning for this second block. Forms of professional practice and sustainable approaches are studied. Students are encouraged to examine the broad range of possibilities and opportunities that can be found within current interior design practice. Students will be encouraged to think through the field of ethics as philosophical concept, and then apply this to various contexts for interior design (for example architectural and interiors conservation practice). Following their time spent on internships students will be required to formulate a manifesto of ethical approaches for their own future practice.

Developing Research, Study Skills and Critical Thinking LO1–5

This teaching block is designed to introduce students to the Level 6 Dissertation Module. The block is intended to help students recognise that finding the right topic is a research process in itself which allows them to rehearse the oral and written presentation skills required to develop a sustained line of inquiry. Research forms help students to interrogate and recognise the value of producing a dissertation – for themselves, but also for an envisioned readership and as a contribution to the knowledge in their field.

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 successful completion of the module students will be able:

1. to research and formulate a comparative knowledge of different aspects of their discipline, its specialisms and broader contexts; and to distinguish how their work relates to and arises from previous work in their discipline;
2. deploy critical and analytical skills in oral and written discussions; and to develop, structure and communicate an argument or similarly rigorous and evidenced line of enquiry;
3. produce cogent oral/visual and written presentations, using appropriate scholarly methods, conventions and protocols;
4. demonstrate an understanding of the ethical and professional responsibilities appropriate to their practice;
5. demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the theories and practices of art, its creative application and architectural design.

Assessment strategy

The module is assessed in a sequence of summative assessments submitted at the end of each teaching block. Students receive formative tutorials before each submission, and feedback during the first session of the following block. This helps students to build and improve skills as the syllabus progresses and distributes time spent preparing for assessments evenly throughout the year. Assessments comprise different types of written texts and modes of presentation, for example:

1. essay (2,500 – 3,000 words);
2. case study (1,000 – 1,500 words);
3. the third assessment item includes a written component (2500 – 3000 words) and should be equivalent in ambition, scope and scale to the essay or case study and rehearse skills required for the dissertation the following year.

The word-count for the whole module is between 6,000–7,500 words. The order of assessment types is not developmental.

Overall module assessment criteria:

1. breadth and depth of knowledge of an aspect of the subject area;
2. clarity and coherence in presenting an argument or similarly rigorous line of enquiry;
3. deployment of critical and analytical skills in oral and written discussions;
4. cogency of oral/visual and written presentations, and appropriate use of scholarly methods, conventions and protocols;
5. understanding of critical context, ethical dimensions, and the broader construction and limits of knowledge


Assessment briefs and teaching syllabi are designed to support the development of academic skills, including inductions to using libraries and archives, critical reading skills, presentation skills, writing skills, working with feedback, avoiding plagiarism and referencing, as well as note taking, planning and time management skills. The following themes and activities are indicative.

Core Readings 
• de Botton, A., (2014), The Architecture of Happiness, Penguin
• Highmore, B., (2010), Ordinary Lives, Studies in the Everyday, Routledge
• Hollis, E., (2016), How to Make a Home, Macmillan

Further Reading
• BBC, A House Through Time, (dir. Paul Tilzey), 2018, available on BOB Learning on Screen; www.
• Angelil, M., Hehl, R., Building Brazil! - the Proactive Urban Renewal of Informal Settlements, Ruby Press
• Bachelard, G., (2014), The Poetics of Space, Penguin Classics
• Cirolia, L., (ed.), (2016), Upgrading Informal Settlements in South Africa, Pursuing a Partnership-based Approach, EDS Publications Ltd
• Highmore, B., (2001), Everyday Life and Cultural Theory, Routledge
• Hollis, E., (2014), The Memory Palace; A Book of Lost Interiors, From the Parthenon to the Vegas Strip, Portobello Books
• Pinathi, A., Mañes Rubio, J., (2014), Design Museum Dharavi, The Future Printing and Publishing
• McKay, H., Accommodating the Passenger, Interior Design for the Union Castle Line, 1945-1978, Unpublished PhD thesis, available through British Library
• Olusoga, D., (2018), Brit(ish), On Race, Identity and Belonging, Jonathan Cape

Journals, Websites and Databases
• Design Indaba (web)
• Deezeen (web)
• (web)
• (Domestic Interiors Database)
• Design History Society Journal