module specification

CP5016 - Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (Film) (2020/21)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2020/21
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (Film)
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
210 hours Guided independent study
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 33%   Coursework 1
Coursework 33%   Coursework 2
Coursework 34%   Coursework 3
Running in 2020/21

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

The module offers a sequence of three intensive programmes or ‘mini-blocks’ tailored to the interests of specific groups of students. It provides a range of studies that address the character and conditions of cultural production including how they operate in practice.  The module helps to prepare the student for their final-year dissertation and their future role as professionals and practitioners.  The student encounters different perspectives on their subject area and undertakes different forms of coursework aimed at helping inform their choice of dissertation topic and approach. 

The module begins to situate the student within the process of constructing knowledge.  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, in that there are a number of players involved.  The module recognises that the student is also an active player in the process: what they bring to the construction of knowledge counts; and how effectively they construct it depends on how well they understand and interact with the field.  To this end the module encourages the skills of reading and literacy as required – historical, analytical, textual, visual or technical – to help support rigorous and enterprising thought.

The three blocks have equally weighted single assessments.

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

The module aims to prepare students as independent thinkers, capable of selecting an appropriate topic and producing a sustained piece of independent study in the form of a dissertation.  It also helps orient them toward their professional responsibilities and opportunities in practice.  The module sets out the resources and methods, and rehearses the thinking, historical, analytical, judgmental and discursive skills that are required.  It enables students to become knowledgeable about the authorities / objects / methods in their field; to understand the roles / locations / responsibilities of important players; to engage knowledgeably and critically in a variety of oral and written presentations; and to become conversant with current debates across the subject areas.  Students are encouraged to think creatively and to take responsibility for the development of their own learning, whilst examining broader ethical questions resident in their subject field.


The syllabus is organised in subject pathways, each comprised of mini-blocks.  These may vary in composition from year to year but are grouped within five clusters: Architecture, Fine Art, Design, Media and Music Technology. The following titles are indicative:

Architecture and Interior Architecture:
1. Architecture and Modernity: by Design
2. Professional Architecture: Duties, Constraints, Organisation
3. Architects, Architecture and Society: Roles, Impact, Policy
Fine Art including Printmaking, Sculpture, Photography, Painting, Mixed Media:
1. Art Worlds: Authorities of Knowledge
2. Work as an Artist: Objects and Locations
3. Zone of Freedom: Methods and Responsibilities
Design including Graphics, Illustration, Interiors, Textiles, Jewellery and Silversmithing, Furniture and Product design, Restoration and Conservation:
1. Design and the Global City
2. Design: Ethics of Practice
3. Critical Design: Theory into Professional Practice
Media including Film and Broadcast, Animation, Lens Craft,:
1. Themes, Perspectives and Genre
2. History, Theory and Practice
3. Industry, Audiences and New Technologies
Music Technology & Musical Instrument
1. Themes, Perspectives and Genre
2. History, Theory and Practice
3. Industry, Audiences and New Technologies

Indicative Syllabus

Architecture and Interior Architecture:
1. Architecture and Modernity: by Design:  In the lectures, the work of contemporary architects and urban designers is studied in detail from social, artistic, theoretical and practical viewpoints. In the seminars advanced theories about architecture, cities and citizenship are introduced. The seminar series is based on student presentations and discussion of a number of key contemporary texts. Students are encouraged to think beyond the individual building as a discrete object and to reflect on the wider context of the city. The course introduces the student to a range of ‘non-architectural’ texts on the city that are nevertheless relevant to the debate on its design. These may include texts by geographers, philosophers, writers, historians and economists as well as architectural and urban theorists.

2. Architects, Architecture and Society: Roles, Impact, Policy: This block sets out to engage students with current architectural work, and professional practices through a series of presentations of contemporary projects made by practitioners of architecture. These will be supported by lectures, seminars and local visits in order that students will gain an understanding of the profession.  Students will become familiar with a broad spectrum of clients, consultants, stakeholders and advisory bodies who have a part to play in the commissioning and making of architecture, and also the relevant planning, legal and statutory approvals processes required in order to get a project built within the UK and the EU and in relation to the development of urban design.  Students are asked to consider these and the wider international implications of professional activity through question and answer sessions.

3. Professional Architecture: Duties, Constraints, Organisation: This block furthers the students understanding of an architect’s relationship to the construction industry and related professionals, specialists and experts.  Through lectures and seminars and using case studies, the historical development of the building industry is explored and the ways of communication and cross referral of information is examined. Forms of agreement, procurement routes and contractual situations are studied as students become more familiar with management issues, both in organising the design and building process and in the business of running a practice. In the question and discussion sessions students are encouraged to examine a broad range of possibilities and opportunities that can be found within current urban design, planning and regulatory conditions.

Fine Art including Printmaking, Sculpture, Photography, Painting, Mixed Media:
1. Art Worlds: Authorities of Knowledge:  This block examines the idea of the art world or art worlds and investigates what the contemporary context is for professional practice as an artist, looking at art authorities and art knowledge.  In an academic essay, students are to engage with one of the professional practice problems outlined over the course of the module, researching ways in which these have been successfully or unsuccessfully addressed and outlining their own solution(s) in terms of today's professional context.

2. Work as an Artist: Objects and Locations:  This block examines the ways in which artists have developed practices that critique and explore art’s commodity status, the impact of market concerns on art production, and the collapsing categories between business, politics and culture. How artists may successfully negotiate strategies of self-organisation that either meet the requirements of the contemporary cultural industry or stand outside it. The student's response will be via a case study/report, using report methodology, on a particular aspect of the contemporary art industry.

3. Zone of Freedom: Methods and Responsibilities: Art's so-called 'zone of freedom' is often jealously guarded by art institutions. This block applies ethics to contemporary art, examining artists' responsibilities to each other, their audience, purchasers and art institutions, as well as ethical claims on art's audience and institutions. The student examines a particular case of ethics in contemporary art using academic case study methodology.


Design including Graphics, Illustration, Interiors, Textiles, Jewellery and Silversmithing, Furniture and Product design, Restoration and Conservation:
1. Design and the Global City:  This block will consider the complex contemporary and global urban contexts in which designed objects, images and spaces are conceived of, produced, consumed and used. Case studies of graphic design, illustration, interior design, jewellery and silversmithing, textiles, furniture and product design and restoration and conservation in the urban context will be the focus of this block.  Methodologies for researching the city will enable students to make connections between their theoretical study of the city and their design practice.

2. Design: Ethics of Practice:  This block focuses on the fundamentals of professional practice and the ethical position and role of designers and makers within sector-specific legal constraints. Case studies drawn from the fields of graphic design, illustration, interior design, jewellery and silversmithing, textiles, furniture and product design and restoration and conservation will enable students to examine, test and explore fundamental professional aspects of their practice as it relates to their selves, their communities of practice, and their wider and global socio-cultural and environmental context.

3. Critical Design: Theory into Professional Practice: This block asks students to make direct connections between their theoretical study and their profession. Students will discuss and explore their developing individual professional design positions: how will they engage in ethical, responsible, critical and affirmative design; how are these issues applied to professional practice within the field by others; what models/ modus operandi can they use in structuring research and practice which enables their position (rather than undermining intent)? How do these approaches relate to/ reflect/ anticipate the new economies in which design, the creative industries and creative practice are framed?
Media including Film and Broadcast, Animation, Lens Craft,:
1. Themes, Perspectives and Genre:  In this block the question of genre will be discussed. In particular, the theory that genre is a system of conventions and expectations based on an implicit contract between producer and audience. The idea of trans-generic media will be introduced, along with an evaluation of some attempts to move beyond the system of genre. Case studies, such as the horror film, the science fiction film, TV news reporting and the Japanese anime film will also be used to test the theory that genres correspond to universal mental processes.

2. History, Theory and Practice: The fact that media theories and practices have histories has been fundamental to the study of the media. For many media theorists, we are in or having been passing through something called the postmodern. For some thinkers, this means some kind of ‘end of history’. For others, we are already beyond the postmodern and for a few, we have not yet fully entered postmodernism. In this block, the concepts of modernism and postmodernism will be debated in the context of the claim that the postmodern represents the triumph of a mass mediated culture.

3. Industry, Audience and New Technologies:  Partly as a consequence of the shift from so called ‘Fordist’ to ‘post-Fordist’ modes of production, some of questioned the idea that media will be produced by an ‘industry’ in the future. Others even argue that this is happening already and that it doesn’t make much sense to talk of ‘the industry’ since we are all ‘pro-sumers’ now (that is, both producers and consumers of media).

Music Technology & Musical Instruments
1. Themes, Perspectives and Genre: The block builds on the foundation study of the relationship between music, musicians and music technologists previously established by placing modern electronic and computer based music technologies within a historical, and scientific context. In particular, it explores in detail the link between music and the expanding field of artificial intelligence, and to examine areas of current research in music technology. Themes and topics are introduced which students may wish to explore further in final year dissertations.

2. History, Theory and Practice: This block explores the digital audio theory (PCM), its terminology, processes (such as FFT) and the audio equipment, technologies and formats. It enables students to reflect upon the differences between analogue and digital audio technologies and digitally compressed and uncompressed audio, in order to develop their critical skills by evaluating the artistic, commercial and technological differences, as much as advantages and disadvantages in each case. It also allows them to envisage with a critical approach, how the future of digital audio may look like in the foreseeable future.

3. Industry, Audience and New Technologies: The block provides an understanding of and reflection upon contemporary sound synthesis, which is of vital importance for sound designers, engineers and technicians in the music recording, theatre, radio& TV broadcast, film, and multimedia industries. It provides a scope for a deeper understanding of the applications, techniques and operation of synthetic sound. Students investigate, compare and form critical judgement about methods of sound synthesis and sound control by reflecting upon the advantages and limitations of the usage of sound synthesis in music, sound design and sound production.

Learning and teaching

The module is organised into three core teaching and learning blocks, each of which includes preparation and reading, completing assessments, receiving formative feedback, equivalent to 90 hours of contact time and 180 hours of self directed study.  The module supports a freestanding PDP component, equivalent to 30 hours of self directed study, linked to on-line and personal development support systems.

The three mini-blocks are organised around a series of lectures, seminars and workshops, supported by online or blended learning, visits and skills workshops.  The blocks are designed, through the consolidation and refinement of the skills and modes of understanding developed in Level 4, to explore the depths and complexities within subject knowledge at a range of scales.  On the one hand students are encouraged to investigate, present and discuss issues that involve judgement, ethical decisions, social mores and cultural interpretation; on the other they are encouraged to develop the ability to record, present and analyse material accurately, distinguishing, for example, between first-hand experience and secondary literature.

Each teaching and learning block provides a multifaceted programme that feeds writing-based assignments, for example a case study, essay, and an equivalent assignment that contains a written component. The assignments may include or be on visual work, technical or scientific data, professional context, work in practice, or academic or critical theories.  The aim is to develop interest, literacy and competence.

The teaching and learning includes formative feedback on the first two assignments.

For the PDP component students develop their dissertation proposal in an online submission. The submission will be approved by a tutor.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will be able to:

1. Research and formulate a comparative knowledge of different aspects of their subject area, its specialisms and broader contexts; and to distinguish how their work relates to and arises from previous work in the area;
2. Deploy critical and analytical skills in oral and written discussions; and to develop, structure and communicate an argument or similarly rigorous line of enquiry;
3. Produce cogent oral/visual and written presentations, using appropriate scholarly methods, conventions and protocols;
4. Demonstrate an understanding of the legal, ethical and professional responsibilities appropriate to the practice of their discipline;

Assessment strategy

The strategy is to provide an iterative and developmental model of assessment. 

The three assessment items (Coursework 1, 2 and 3) include different types of written texts: for example an essay or a case study, any of which should rehearse skills required for the dissertation the following year:
1. Essay (2500 – 3000 words)
2. Case study (1000 – 1500 words)

The third assessment item should include a written component and be equivalent in ambition, scope and scale to the essay or case study.

The word-count for the whole module is between 4000 – 7500 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.

Students must pass all three coursework components individually at 40% in order to be eligible for the BA (Hons) Architecture award.



1  Architecture and Modernity: by Design 
Berman, M; All That is Solid Melts into Air: the Experience of Modernity, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1988.
Colomina, B; Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media, Cambridge: MIT P, 1996.
Frampton, K; Studies in Tectonic Culture: The Poetics of Construction in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Architecture. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT P, 2001.
2  Architects, Architecture and Society: Roles, Impact, Policy
Davies C. (2011) Thinking about Architecture
Cousins M. (2011) Architects Legal Pocket Book
Murcutt G. (2008) Thinking Drawing/Working Drawing
AA Files.
3  Professional Architecture: Duties, Constraints, Organisation
RIBA pubs. The Handbook of Practice Management
RIBA Journal
Architectural Review
Architecture Today

Fine Art:
1  Art Worlds: Authorities of Knowledge 
Cutts Simon (2007), Some Forms of Availability, New York, Granary Press,
Danto, Arthur (1964), The Artworld, The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 61, No. 19, American Philosophical Association Eastern
Dickie, George (1974), Art and the Aesthetic: An Institutional Analysis, Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP.
Dickie, George (1997), Art Circle: A Theory of Art, Chicago: Spectrum Press
Thornton, Sarah (2009), Seven Days in the Art World.. Pub. Granta
2  Work as an Artist: Objects and Locations 
Abbing, Hans, Why are Artists Poor?: The Exceptional Economy of the Arts –
Bradley, Will , Mika Hannula, Cristina Ricupero, Superflex (Eds.) Self-Organisation / counter-economic strategies. Pub. Sternberg press.
Florida, R. 2002 The Rise of the Creative Class. And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure and Everyday Life. Basic Books.
McRobbie, A (2009) ‘Reflections on Precarious Work in the Cultural Sector’ in (eds)
Pascal Gielen and Pu.Valiz. The murmuring of the artistis community. Global art, memory, and post-fordism., Amsterdam 2009
3  Zone of Freedom: Methods and Responsibilities 
Serra, Richard (1991), 'Art and Censorship' in Critical Inquiry, Vol. 17, No. 3, Spring, 1991, p. 574
King, Elaine A & Gail Levin (eds) (2006), Ethics and the Visual Arts, New York: Allworth Press
Dutton, Denis (1998), 'Forgery and Plagiarism ' in Ruth Chadwick (ed), The Encyclopaedia of Applied Ethics, San Diego: Academic Press

1  Design and the Global City 
Burdett, Ricky and Deyan Sudjic, eds., (2011),  Living in the endless city, London: Phaidon
Burdett Ricky and Deyan Sudjic, eds., (2007), The endless city, London: Phaidon
Kerr, Joe and Andrew Gibson, eds., (2003), London from punk to Blair, London: Reaktion
LeGates, Richard T. and Frederic Stout, eds., (2011) 5th ed.,  The city reader, London: Routledge
Miles, Malcolm and Tim Hall with Iain Borden, eds., 2004) 2nd ed., The city cultures reader, London: Routledge
Sandhu, Sukhdev, (2006) Night Haunts, Artangel, of London
2  Design: Ethics of Practice 
Attfield, Judy,ed., (1999), Utility reassessed : the role of ethics in the practice of design, Manchester: Manchester University Press,
Chapman, Jonathan and Nick Gant, eds., (2007), Designers, visionaries and other stories : a collection of sustainable design essays, London: Earthscan
Fry, Tony, (2011), Design as politics, Oxford: Berg
Fry, Tony, (2009), Design futuring: sustainability, ethics, and new practice, Oxford: Berg
Fuad-Luke, Alastair, (2009) Design activism: beautiful strangeness for a sustainable world, London: Earthscan, 2009
3  Critical Design: Theory into Professional Practice 
Julier, Guy and Liz Moor, eds.,  (2009), Design and creativity : policy, management and practice,Imprint , Oxford: Berg
Dunne, Anthony, and Fiona Raby, (2001), Design noir : the secret life of electronic objects,  Basel: Birkhauser Verlag, 2001
Dunne, Anthony, (1999), Hertzian tales : electronic products, aesthetic experience and critical design, London: RCA CRD Research Publications
Press, Mike and Rachel Cooper, (2003), The Design Experience: The Role of Design and Designers in the Twenty-First Century, Ashgate.
Scase, R. and Davis, H. (2000) Managing Creativity: the Dynamics of Work and Organization, Milton Keynes: Open University Press

1  Themes, Perspectives and Genre
Neale, S. (2002) Genre and Contemporary Hollywood London: BFI
West, M. (2008) The Japanification of Children’s Popular Culture New York: Scarecrow Press
Bolton, C. (2007) Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams: Japanese Science Fiction from Origins to Anime Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press
Odell, C. (2007) Horror Films London: Kamera Books
Sammon, P. (2007) Future Noir: the Making of Blade Runner London: Gollancz
2  History, Theory and Practice
Jameson, F. (1992) Postmodernism: Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism London: Verso
Harvey, D. (1991) The Condition of Postmodernity Oxford: Blackwell
Bignell, J. (2002) Media Semiotics Manchester: Manchester University Press
Harvey, D. (2007) A Brief History of Neo-Liberalism Oxford: Oxford University Press
Eagleton, T. (1996) The Illusions of Postmodernism Oxford: Blackwell
Bolter, J and Grusin, D. (2000) Remediation: Understanding New Media Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press
3  Industry, Audience and New Technologies
Bruns, A. (2008) Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage New York: Peter Lang
Gauntlett, D. (2011) Making is Connecting: The Social Meaning of Creativity from DIY and Knitting to Youtube and Web 2.0 Cambridge: Polity
Burgess, J. (2010) Youtube: Online Video and Participatory Culture Cambridge: Polity Press
Creeber, G. (2008) Digital Culture: Understanding New Media Milton Keynes: Open University Press
Page, R. (2011) New Perspectives on Narrative and Multi-modality Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press
1 2 3 Music Technology & Musical Instruments:
Boulanger, R. (2000) The Csound Book, MIT Press.
Huber D. & Runstein R. (2010) Modern Recording Techniques / Focal Press (7th Ed)
Roads, C (1996) The Computer Music Tutorial, MIT Press.
Wishart, T (1996) On Sonic Art, Harwood Academic.