module specification

DN4025 - Message and Meaning (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Message and Meaning
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
156 hours Guided independent study
144 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Portfolio
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Monday Morning
Year City Monday All day
Year City Monday Morning
Year City Monday Morning

Module summary

When you apply your carefully learned skills and knowledge of theory and principles, work takes on meaning. Communicating a message authentically with your audience and creating impact visually does not happen by accident. This module is where you learn to take control of that process.

Through a series of project briefs, you will learn to navigate the creative process from concept to delivery of finished outcomes. Project briefs will provoke you to tackle a problem or meet a need by applying technical skills and creative thinking.

You will learn the fundamental skills for interpreting and responding to a project brief, gaining an understanding the terminology of the project brief as well as the different component parts of a brief, with a particular focus on the requirements of an academic  project brief set in the context of a university degree course, for example the assessment outcomes, bibliography and reference materials expected. This sets you on a sound course to be able to successfully navigate future briefs and academic assignments and to feel confident in eventually generating self-initiated briefs at higher levels of study.    

The module introduces you to design research methods as the foundation of the project development process. Clear connections are made between theory (learnt in the Critical and Contextual Studies module CP4021), principles (learnt in module DN4002) industry knowledge (learnt in DN4001) and practice.  

Through academically supported practical studio sessions, you will be guided through a range of discipline-specific, carefully structured project briefs developed to help you in bringing your unique personal responses to socially aware, current and stimulating provocations. You will learn to identify aims and objectives, learn techniques for idea generation, and gain sketchbook practice skills. You will be expected to develop an iterative design process, testing ideas, reflecting, identifying areas for improvement, articulating actions and adapting and improving your work.

During this module you will:

• Learn about the anatomy of a brief document, and how to confidently unpick and understand a set creative project brief;

• Make connections between your theory and practice, basing your work on original and creative ideas that you are able to clearly explain and present;

• Understand how to identify an audience for your work and communicate with the audience in an appropriate, authentic and effective way;

• Discover and practice strategies for applying your technical skills to create meaning in your work, with a focus on the skills and mediums relevant to your course discipline;

• Understand what it means to use an iterative process in your creative work and the value of testing, reflecting and problem solving as part of your process.

Prior learning requirements

Available for Study Abroad? NO


Through course-specific project briefs, you will:

• Explore and analyse the components of a project brief and develop structured creative responses to the brief;

• Develop sound visual research skills for developing original and engaging responses to briefs through your practical work;

• Learn techniques for idea generation and develop an iterative approach to design development;

• Reflect upon the debates and issues current in the profession as well as wider social and cultural contexts globally;

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

• Explore a range of discipline appropriate materials and processes and apply them to practice intentions;

• Begin to develop an individual approach to your practice.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching provides the guidance and foundation to ensure that independent study is effective in addressing the module’s learning outcomes and assessment tasks.

In-class activity makes use of varied student-centred approaches such as active, flipped and blended learning, so that a range of learning strategies is deployed, and individual learning styles are accommodated. Information is provided through a range of means and sources to minimise and remove barriers to successful progress through the module. The course team seeks to embed the University’s Education for Social Justice Framework in fostering learning that is enjoyable, accessible, relevant and that takes account of the social and cultural context and capital of its students.

Activities foster peer-to-peer community building and support for learning. Reflective learning is promoted through interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, receive 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 written reflections on progress and achievement.

The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-based learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal and career 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.

When not attending timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically will involve reading books and journal articles, going to galleries and exhibitions, working on individual and group projects, undertaking preparing project work and presentations, and preparing for deadlines. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and Weblearn and Linkedin Learning, the online learning platform.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, to the standard expected at Level 4, you will be able to:

Knowledge and Understanding

1. Know how to respond to and interpret the requirements of a creative project  brief, appealing to the audience intended;

Cognitive Intellectual Skills

2. Demonstrate understanding and application of research-led practice, using a reflective process to develop original and meaningful visual work;

Transferable Skills

3. Evidence use of an iterative process in refining creative ideas and a sound project development process;

Subject Specific Practical Skills

4. Create meaning and communicate effectively through the application of creative visual communication skills, materials, tools and processes;

Professionalism and Values

5. Demonstrate engagement with all aspects of the module, professional commitment to study and attention to detail in documenting your learning.