module specification

DN4004 - Graphic Authorship (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Graphic Authorship
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
150 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
150 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Portfolio
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Thursday Afternoon
Year City Monday Morning
Year City Monday Afternoon
Year City Thursday Morning

Module summary

This module introduces the idea of ‘graphic authorship’ as a way of thinking and approach to developing your own design practice. Through investigation and development, from conception to realisation, its purpose is to stimulate critical and creative methods of design in an evolving personal perspective. As good working practice, the module also encourages reflection in relation to critical reception of your work. It asks you to consider the negotiable nature, contexts and implications of the personal positions and purposes adopted by graphic and visual designers.

It surveys key historical and contemporary movements and designers known for their singular creative voice, considering what can be learned from the influence of their work in context of their own and later times.  The module also looks at other creative factors and influences, whether tied to the professional field or not, in shaping individual practice.

The module normally includes course specific studios with a range of practical activities and will facilitate the realisation of studio practice and projects generated in other modules.

Module aims

The module seeks to enable you to:

Consider and discuss your critical activity and role as a creative practitioner in your chosen field of graphic design or illustration

Understand relevant issues, choices and constraints within graphic authorship: can or should you ‘author’ your own work or simply ‘transmit’ between the client and society?

Appreciate factors that mediate how practice is received and understood: time, place, culture, commerce etc

Gain secure knowledge of both precedent and contemporary practice in relation to questions of authorship, beginning to locate yourself within the disciplinary field accordingly

Practise strategies for creative influence/ reception, finding your own voice within practice, exploring the question of authorship through studios that further your practical competence


Through course-specific studios and projects, you will:

• Explore themes representative of graphic and visual designers for development and application
• Reflect upon the debates and issues current in the profession today
• Research historical and contemporary practitioners and movements, critiquing their work in relation to impact and context
• Explore a range of studio techniques and apply them to your practice intentions
• Experiment with conceptual approaches, practical techniques and visual research methods to begin developing your own creative identity

Studios will foster course-specific learning and open, exploratory practice, supported by exercises, visits and group critiques together with a series of lectures highlighting established ‘authors’ across a variety of fields and examining the on-going contemporary debate about ‘authorship’.

Studios and projects will be designed to enable students to work with a range of content and formats to gain understanding of how different contexts may require differing authorial responses.

Attention will be paid to designing projects that ensure growing competence with studio techniques of working and presentation.

Learning and teaching

You will work independently and in groups as is required by the nature of the module aims. Seminars and critiques provide ongoing feedback on critical and creative development, permitting reflection on how your work is received.

Through case study discussions and indicative visual analysis, the module requires you to reflect on work produced by yourself and your peers, as well as in context of historical and contemporary figures in the profession. You will study original examples of relevant work on visits to cultural institutions, design studios and other design contexts.

The studio and module introduces a range of media, materials, processes and approaches for the realisation of concepts and ideas through workshops, seminars, critiques and presentations. Studio practice in development of disciplinary techniques encourages technical competence, knowledge of the field and opportunity to develop a critical voice and increasingly distinctive approach.

Blended learning will support you by providing access to learning resources and by promoting effective communication between students engaged on collaborative projects.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this module, you will be able to:

Knowledge and Understanding
Show a secure knowledge of relevant movements and key figures in contemporary fields of graphic design and illustration towards understanding the context of your work

Cognitive Intellectual Skills
Reflect through the work you produce, a developing understanding of the debates central to the role and practice of graphic and visual designers today, considering the ways in which your work might have impact dependent on contexts

Transferable Skills
Illustrate through your work developing strategies for finding your own creative identity, in the context of the discipline

Subject Specific Practical Skills
Demonstrate through practical outcomes, a basic level of competence in a range of essential studio techniques and technologies

Assessment strategy

In ‘end of project’ critiques, students are expected to produce a coherent presentation of the development of their project work, together with a critical evaluation of its successes and failures in context. Each component of the portfolio will be formatively assessed. The final summative mark is given at the end of the module, arrived at through assessment of a complete portfolio of coursework that will normally include research and development, project proposals, contextualization and evaluation. Written feedback will be provided corresponding to published assessment criteria. Coursework requirements will be detailed in project briefs contained in the module guide.

All students are required to undertake formal interim presentations with evidence of continuous reflective journals responding to studio critique and tutorial guidance. Work presented will be subject to formal studio feedback from a panel of disciplinary specialists. This will inform final assessment marks and must be considered and acted upon by the student.

Work must be carefully organized and presented to communicate the development of ideas and the content must be clearly labeled with your name, student number, module code and date. Students are required to attend timetabled sessions.


Barthes, R. (1977) Image, Music, Text, Fontana.
Bloom, H. (1973) The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry, OUP.
Foucault, M., What is an Author? in Harari J (ed.) (1979) Textual Strategies, Cornell University Press.
Gerstner, D and Staiger, J. (eds.) (2003) Authorship and Film, Routledge.
Poynor, R. (2001) Portrait of the Designer as Author, In-Eye.