module specification

DN4004 - Graphic Authorship (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Graphic Authorship
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
186 hours Guided independent study
114 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 80%   Portfolio
Coursework 20%   Critical evaluation
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Thursday Afternoon
Year (Spring and Summer) City Thursday All day
Year City Thursday Morning

Module summary

This module introduces the idea of ‘graphic authorship’ as a way of thinking and as an approach to developing a personal practice as a graphic designer, designer for publishing, illustrator or animator. 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 work. It asks students to consider the negotiable nature, contexts and implications of the personal positions and purposes adopted by creative practitioners.

It surveys key historical and contemporary movements and practitioners 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 seeks to enable students to:

• consider and discuss critical activity and roles as a creative practitioners in a chosen field of graphic design, design for publishing, illustration or animation;

• understand relevant issues, choices and constraints within graphic authorship: can or should designers ‘author’ their own work or simply ‘transmit’ between the client and society;

• appreciate factors that mediate how practice is received and understood through time, place, culture, commerce etc.;

• gain secure knowledge of both precedent and contemporary practice in relation to questions of authorship, beginning to locate themselves within the contemporary disciplinary field accordingly;

• practice strategies for creative influence/ reception, finding their own voices within practice, exploring the question of authorship through studios that further practical competence.

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

Through case study discussions and indicative visual analysis, the module requires students to reflect on work produced by themselves and their peers, as well as in the context of historical and contemporary figures in the profession. Students will study original examples of relevant work on visits to cultural institutions, studios and other design related situations.

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.


Through course-specific studios and projects, you will:

• explore themes representative of subject specific creative practice for development and application;  LO1

• reflect upon the debates and issues current in the profession today;  LO2

• research historical and contemporary practitioners and movements, critiquing their work in relation to impact and context;  LO1,2

• explore a range of studio techniques and apply them to practice intentions;  LO3,4

• experiment with conceptual approaches, practical techniques and visual research methods to begin developing a creative identity. LO3, 4

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’.  LO1

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.  LO2

Attention will be paid to designing projects that ensure growing competence with studio techniques of working and presentation.  LO4

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 is delivered through lectures, practical workshops, demonstrations, inductions and studio-based activities supported by external visits where necessary. Group seminars, tutorials and informal feedback during workshop sessions offer the opportunity to reflect upon learning-in-progress, and to discuss and progress strategies for developing skills and practice. Blended learning will support students in individual and group projects. 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.

Successful learning in this module is dependent upon regular attendance and engagement in the scheduled teaching and the level of self-managed study undertaken. In order to make the most of all the opportunities available, students will be encouraged and supported to organise and plan their learning activities effectively. The level of self-managed learning will be monitored. Self-directed study may include individual and/or group tasks, for example, research, site visits, drawing tasks, digital skills, or collecting and collating materials in preparation for the following week's session. The construction of a portfolio of personally produced and assembled work is vital to success in the module and the progress of this will be monitored in tutorials and seminars.

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

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

Knowledge and Understanding
LO1 show a secure knowledge of relevant movements and key figures in contemporary fields of graphic design, publishing, illustration and animation and a clear understanding of the context of their work in relation to personal practice aspirations;

Cognitive Intellectual Skills
LO2 reflect through the work produced, a developing understanding of the debates central to the role and practice of visual communicators today, considering the ways in which work might have impact due to contexts;

Transferable Skills
LO3 illustrate through their work developing strategies for finding a creative identity, in the context of the contemporary discipline;

Subject Specific Practical Skills
LO4 demonstrate through practical outcomes, a basic level of competence in a range of essential studio techniques, technologies and presentation in the context of personal portfolio development.

Assessment strategy

In end of project critiques, students are expected to produce a coherent presentation of the development of their visual research, together with a critical evaluation of relative successes and failures, communicating and debating this with others. Formative feedback will be provided throughout in tutorials, group discussions and during workshop sessions. Formative feedback encourages students to reflect on progress and discuss strategies for further development of skills and practice.

Structured activities and independent learning within the portfolio will be formatively assessed.  The satisfactory completion of relevant technical/ workshop activities and continuing independent practice (and associated health and safety procedures) will be monitored.

The final mark will be awarded in relation to a portfolio of a carefully presented work at the end the module, including all projects undertaken, evidencing engagement and development of work and visual research, produced both under guidance and independently. Summative assessment will reflect on the whole body of work and qualities demonstrated throughout. Work must be carefully organised, presented to a professional standard and should communicate the development of ideas. The content must be clearly labelled with name, student number, module code and date. Students are required to attend timetabled sessions.

Written feedback will be provided corresponding to published assessment criteria and guidance given towards future development. Precise requirements for submission will be given in project briefs.


Core Texts:
Baines, P. (2005), Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935-2005, Penguin
Caldwell, C. (2014) Editorial Design: Digital and Print, Laurence King
Eisner, W. (2008) Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist: W.W. Norton
Haslam, A. (2006), Book design, Portfolio Publishing
Lewis, A. (2016), So you want to publish a magazine?, Laurence King Publishers
McCandless, D. (2001), Information is beautiful, Haper Collins
Zeegen, L. and Roberts, C. (2014) Fifty Years of Illustration, Laurence King


Electronic Databases:
E-Flux Journal
The Serving Library

Design Resources: