module specification

DN4014 - Practice: Interpretation (Object and Display) (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Practice: Interpretation (Object and Display)
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Critical responses and commentary (1500 words)
Coursework 50%   Practical work; interpreted display of artefacts and commentary
Running in 2018/19

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

Module summary

Do things carry their own meanings or do they operate in a system of interpretation? What are the many ways in which we might interpret things, and what kind of knowledge might we produce? This module will introduce students to some of the ways in which humans have solicited meaning from objects, or imposed meanings on them.

Students will study the various ways and contexts in which objects and images have been displayed, and the intentions behind the design and dissemination of the display. Understandings gained will be tested and applied in the designed display of artefacts made, performed, collected or curated by students. Drawing on learning in the Level 4 module ‘Things’, theoretical approaches to the interpretation of objects and images will be considered in the practical work undertaken.

Students will test their ability to construct and project meaning through responses to selected exhibitions, collections or displays. They will produce theoretically informed critical responses to the exhibitions, collections or displays they study and will go on to design and present an exhibition or display that they themselves have designed, with the specific intent of conveying meaning or impression different or additional to that which the objects have in isolation.  They will complete a piece of practical work to present and display an interpretation of a selected event, site, collection or object and reflect on how this reconstruction functions as an act of interpretation in relation to specific theories or contexts, writing a contextualised rationale. The display may be reading, writing, performance, making and re-making, doing and re-doing, with display of the outcomes

The module will enable students to:

• understand how ideas are manifest in spaces, objects, ideas: and how our reading affects the ‘material’ and the ‘visual’;
• test theories of and approaches to interpretation of artefacts and images  through physical presentation;
• write about objects and images, with the skills of critical analysis to reflect on and write about exhibition and display as forms of interpretation;
• develop an appropriate, independent research perspective and approach.


Teaching takes place in the form of seminars, workshops, visits and talks from a range of specialists representing different ‘interpretive’ disciplines.

Studio and seminar sessions will interrogate techniques for interpretation, situating the act in activities as diverse as dancing, cooking, singing, walking, the reconstruction of musical instruments, taking photographs, writing poetry, trainspotting, and creative writing. LO1 LO2

Throughout the module students will complete a series of short interpretive studies which reflect on the activity of interpretation, the role of the interpreter, and the relationship of interpretation and reader. LO2 LO3 LO4

Students will ‘make’ and display an interpretation of a site, object, collection, performance or other artefact in an appropriate format, accompanied by a commentary of their intention. LO2 LO3 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 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 the module, students will be able to:
1. understand the role of the author / creator in constructing non-objective histories and accounts;
2. test their ability to communicate interpretations of objects, images, spaces and ideas through physical representation;
3. write about objects and images understanding how their perspective affects their interpretation;
4. comment on the context within which their writing and interpretation operates.

Assessment strategy

Students will submit two items
A portfolio of three responses to (existing) exhibitions, collections or displays. The responses will have a visual or physical form (or oral, or performative) and an accompanying critical commentary (1500 words total).

A physical interpretation and display of a site, object, collection, performance or other artefacts in an appropriate format, accompanied by a critical commentary of the intention.


Bal, Mieke, B. (2001) Louise Bourgeois’ Spider: The Architecture of Art Writing, University of Chicago Press
Rendell, J (2010) Site Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism, I.B. Taurus

De Certeau, M. (1998) The Practice of Everyday Life: Living and Cooking Vol 2, University of Minnesota Press

Valery, P. (1989) The Art of Poetry, Princeton University Press

Sontag, Susan, S. (1994) Against interpretation, Vintage

Barthes, Roland, B. (2018) The Death of the Author, Macat

Kreider, Kristen, K. (2014)  Poetics and place : the architecture of sign, subjects and site, I.B. Taurus