module specification

DN4012 - Taste (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Taste
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
219 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 60%   Weekly posting on weblearn for an illustrated portfolio of evidence. Final submission of five blogs at the end of the m
Coursework 40%   Critical essay of 1500 words
Running in 2018/19

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

Module summary

This level 4 module, Taste, introduces students to the development of ideas about ‘taste’ beginning with ideas taken from the writings of Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant in the eighteenth century, to Pierre Bourdieu in the twentieth century. Students will then look at more recent examples of the concept of ‘taste’ and how it is applied to the artefacts of their everyday lives. The ways in which ‘taste’ has been used by
its arbiters as a means of controlling aspects of design, discrimination, social status and consumption will be debated. Students will be particularly encouraged to reflect on how their own personal tastes have helped shape their identities, and how those identities have helped determine their tastes.

Assessment will be through a weekly illustrated portfolio of evidence, with bibliography, that will be submitted via Weblearn, to reflect on students’ own tastes and to interrogate received notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ taste, using key readings from the module. The portfolio will receive regular feedback from the module tutor and can be amended before the final, summative, assessment.

In addition, students will write an illustrated, critical essay of 1500 words for your second assessment. 

This module will enable students to:

• understand and apply to the study of artefacts the concept of ‘taste’ and how it relates to material and visual culture;
• evaluate and interpret a variety of sources (material, visual and textual) and consider their application to the study of the concept of ‘taste’ as it relates to material and visual culture;
• communicate the results of research, using structured and coherent arguments and deploying a variety of media;
• understand their own relationship to ‘taste’ and its implications for their ability to form judgements of discrimination.


A series of weekly lectures, seminars and study visits will help develop knowledge and a critical understanding of the notion of ‘taste’ and how it relates to our identities. LO1,LO2

The syllabus will begin by analysing the development of the concept of ‘taste’ as part of the Enlightenment and students will study excerpts from the writings of Burke and Kant.  More recent critiques, offered by Bourdieu, will then be studied. LO1, LO2

In order to help situate these theories in the artefacts of everyday life, seminar groups will focus on key examples drawn from material and visual culture, as well as artefacts drawn from their own life experience or the made environment.  Students will post a weekly illustrated blog on Weblearn, using theoretical debates to help analyse key objects and images, often drawn from their own experiences. LO3,LO4

A number of study visits as well as city and suburban walks help provide a historical, cultural and aesthetic context for these ideas. LO1,LO2

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 completion of this module students will be able to:

1. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the purpose, use and effects of the concept of ‘taste’;
2. apply critical understanding of ‘taste’ it to a variety of textual, visual and material sources in project work to make judgements about how they are perceived;
3. be clear, persuasive and confident in the presentation of analysis and observation through a range of means;
4. reflect on their own practices, personal possessions and identities that reflect their ‘taste’.

Assessment strategy

Students are required to post an illustrated blog, with bibliography, each week on Weblearn in order to build up a portfolio of evidence observing, analysing and critiquing the notion of ‘taste’.  This will form the basis of their first assessment.  The tutor will offer feedback on the postings as a form of formative assessment and the student can amend and improve the postings up to the date of the final submission. Five of the blogs, chosen by the student, will be submitted for final assessment, to a limit of 2500 words. This is weighted at 60% of the total for the module.

The other 40% weighting for the module will be from a critical essay, of 1500 words, submitted at the end of the module.


Bayley, S. (1991) Taste: the Secret Meaning of Things, London: Faber and Faber.
Bell, D. & Hollows, J. (eds) (2005) Ordinary Lifestyles: Popular Media, Consumption and Taste, Maidenhead, Open University Press.
Bourdieu, P.  (1984) ‘The Aristocracy of Culture’ in Distinction: a social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
Burke, E. (2014) A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origns of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Candlin, F & Guins, R. (eds) (2009) The Object Reader, London: Routledge.
Clark, H. & Brody, D. (eds) (2009) Design Studies: A Reader, Oxford: Berg.
Garnham, N. & Williams, R. (1980) ‘Pierre Bourdieu and the Sociology of Culture’, Media, Culture and Society, 2: 209-223.
Gronow, J. (1997) The Sociology of Taste, London: Routledge.
Highmore, B. (ed.) (2009) The Design Culture Reader, London: Routledge.
Lees-Maffei, G. & Houze, R. (eds) (2010) The Design History Reader, Oxford: Berg.
Palmer, J. & Dodgson, M. (eds) ¬¬(1996) Design and Aesthetics: A Reader, London: Routledge.
Walker, J.A.  (1989) ‘Consumption, Deception, Taste’, in Walker, J.A. Design History and the History of Design London: Pluto Press.