module specification

CP5015 - Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (Interiors) (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
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 300
72 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
228 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Essay (2,500 words)
Coursework 50%   Research Compendium (2,500-3,000 words)
Running in 2024/25

(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 you in the history and theory of your 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 you as independent thinkers to be 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 the process of constructing and questioning knowledge about your discipline, its history, contexts, and professional and ethical dimensions. It introduces and rehearses the analytical and discursive skills you need to become critically aware of the authorities, objects and practices in your field and able to express and debate the issues attaching to them. You will consider the roles and responsibilities  of professionals in your field and examine the ethical questions relevant to the discipline, becoming conversant with current debates in the subject. You will consider the priorities and points of view of the industry, the client, the designer, the consumer or user, the critic and wider society.

You are encouraged to think critically and creatively and to take responsibility for the development of your own learning. The module recognises that you are an active contributor to the process of learning: what you as a student bring to the construction and evaluation of knowledge matters – and how effectively you construct and evaluate that knowledge depends on how well you understand the field of your discipline as outlined above.

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. Dialogue and exchange between students and tutors takes place in informal in-class settings and ensures that student experience and cultural and social capital is expressed and valued.

Prior learning requirements

Available for Study Abroad? NO


Critical and Contextual Studies 2: 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 for the two teaching periods are equally weighted.

Throughout the module, we will examine broader ethical questions relevant to the practice of interior design. This approach includes the consideration of the needs of traditionally overlooked stakeholders in interior design globally and in the UK alongside design for spaces usually associated with the industry, for example retail, domestic, corporate and entertainment schemes. You will be asked to consider the problems of practice in communities of economic insecurity, of rural depopulation, in the so-called ‘developing world’ and in the third sector (charitable and not-for-profit organisations).  You will be asked to approach interior design in a way that serves to improve lives socially and economically for all, and to ensure that inclusivity and accessibility are central to your practice.

Teaching Period 1

Identity and Practice

The first teaching block of the second year is designed to facilitate your engagement with one of the key questions around the theory of your discipline – the question of how to respond to social, cultural and personal identities in the practice of interior design.

We will explore what identity might mean and require in relation to personal and cultural (including global) identities, as well as corporate branding identities, through the study of interior design practices. We will include small, independently owned practices including Black and ethnic minority, all-women and other creative enterprises in our survey, looking at how personal, national and cultural markers of identity can be expressed.  We will examine relevant theories and approaches to understanding identity, exploring how gender, class, cultural background and other factors must be considered in the interests of pursuing design that respects inclusivity, equality, social justice and environmental concerns. We will look at examples through the lens of, for example, feminist, ‘queer’ and critical race theory to discover how identity should inform contemporary practice. Through this, you will be encouraged to consider your personal values and the approaches that you wish to bring to your future practice.

The first teaching period will be assessed through an essay (2,500 words).
(Learning Outcomes 1,2,3,4,6)

Teaching Period 2

The second teaching period will concentrate on preparation for your dissertation in level 6. You will be introduced to and practise a range of key approaches, techniques and methods, to ensure that you have the required abilities to embark upon your dissertation with confidence and an appropriate skillset for the task.

These skills will include:

• how to select a suitable subject of study and construct a research question;
• how to identify where suitable source material for research may be found;
• critical skills for assessing the value of different sources;
• choosing a suitable theory or method through which to address your research question;
• how to comment critically and effectively on objects of study, such as images;
• how to plan, structure and present a dissertation and time-manage your tasks;
• how to manage referencing and bibliographies using a recognised system;
• how to avoid accidental plagiarism.

The second teaching period will be assessed through a Research Compendium (2,500–3,000 words)
(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 to:

Knowledge and understanding
1. demonstrate a comparative knowledge of different aspects of interior design and practice and its broader contexts;

Cognitive intellectual abilities
2. articulate the relationship between the theories and practices of interior design;
3. develop, structure and communicate a rigorous and evidenced argument;

Subject specific skills
4. produce cogent oral, visual and written presentations, using appropriate scholarly methods, conventions and protocols;
5. understand how to plan, structure, argue and present an undergraduate dissertation;

Professionalism and values
6. understand the ethical and professional responsibilities appropriate to the practice of interior design.