module specification

DN5018 - Practice: Manipulation (Portfolio) (2019/20)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2019/20
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Practice: Manipulation (Portfolio)
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
150 hours Guided independent study
150 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Diary
Coursework 50%   Portfolio
Running in 2019/20

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

Module summary

This year-long practice module offers you a unique insight into how our sensory experience of images, materials and objects is related to the creative process and inventivity. Taking its cue from the idea of manipulation, meaning ‘a handful’, the module examines how human hands shape and mould materials found in nature, and how these shapes spur our imagination to create new composite objects and materials of increasing complexity which become imbued with meaning and cultural currency. This module specifically recognises that artefacts commonly privileged as ‘art’, are a part of our material and visual culture and subject to similar processes of creation, manipulation and interpretation as ‘crafted’ or industrially produced objects.

You will be also asked to consider how the presentation of objects and images as a constructed collection or portfolio can affect the viewer’s or user’s perception of each individual artefact, and of the whole.

The teaching and learning syllabus is designed to help you empathise with artists, designers and makers through ‘hands-on’ experience, and learn more about the practical implications of working with, and ‘thinking through’ material manipulation for objects, images and time-based media. The module prepares you for the study of how material objects and artefacts are made, and how this process informs the way they are interpreted and understood, singly and in relation to each other. A series of complementary seminars enables you to contemplate practice in context with ideas and theories that have shaped the way we understand materials and making and to develop documentary and research skills.

Prior learning requirements

Pass and Completion of Prior Level

Module aims

This module will enable you to:

  • gain understanding of the nature of materials and processes of manipulation through direct experience
  • develop skills in describing and reflecting on the experience of making and the manipulation of material
  • consider the varying scales of human manipulation of materials and images, from the one-to-one relationship of the craftsperson to their material, through industrial mass production, to the production of synthetic materials and bio-engineering
  • realise how artefacts and images can be presented and understood differently according to their existence among other objects


The module will be delivered as two parts, the first part a series of seminars and practical workshops, in which students experience first-hand what it is like to manipulate malleable materials such as clay, or weave baskets with branches. Starting with simple mechanical processes, students will continue to explore more sophisticated modes of manipulating materials, such as digital, chemical or electromagnetic processes, and working with ‘intangible’ materials such as sound waves. Students keep a written and visual diary of their work which they submit at the end of the year.

In the second part of the module, students will construct a portfolio of objects and/ or images they have made, collected or worked with archivally, through which the essential relationship of material and process to the form of the object and/ or image will be interrogated. The portfolio will be expected to be a coherent whole, with the choice of each object/ image and the relationships of objects/ images to each other well considered. The portfolio will have an accompanying text. Students will show their work in progress periodically in seminars and critiques.

Processes may include such as: metalsmithing, woodworking, ceramics, papermaking, weaving, carving, casting and digital production.

Learning and teaching

Students are required to attend weekly lectures, seminars, workshops and study trips.  Readings for seminar discussion will be provided on Weblearn in advance and students are expected to have read those. 

Teaching takes place in the form of seminars and workshops, visits to sites of production and extraction (where possible: workshops, factories, forests, quarries), artists’ studios, and material libraries. Students are able to experiment with materials and work under the guidance of staff, at university or during off-site studio visits. There will be a number of visits to museum collections, to trace the history of human making in the objects on show, and to materials research laboratories.

Students will be offered feedforward and feedback tutorials for assignments.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module you will be able to:

  • apply first-hand experience of material, material and image manipulation in the critical and interpretative assessment of objects and designs
  • explain the relationship of available materials and making/ manufacturing processes to the outcomes of design/ art, at a range of scales
  • show how artefacts and images can be differently understood according to their juxtaposition with other objects within a wider system of representation
  • understand the relationship between the physical acts of making and the intellectual and creative processes of designing

Assessment strategy

There will be two assessment items, the first a visual and written diary of material and process experiments, conducted in the first part of the module.

The second will be a portfolio of objects you have made, collected or worked with archivally, intended to explore the essential relationship of material and process to the form of objects. The portfolio will be expected to be a coherent whole, with the choice of each object and the relationships of objects to each other well considered. The portfolio will have an accompanying explanatory text, which may be presented as a series of captions.


Anzieu, D. (1989) The skin-ego,  London: Yale University Press

Britton, A. (2013) Seeing Things: Collected writing on art, craft and design, London:  Occasional Papers

Flaubert, G. (1976) Bouvard and Pecuchet, London: Penguin

Ingold, T. (2000) The Perception of the Environment, London: Routledge

Ingold, T. (2013) Making: Anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture, London: Routledge

Leslie, L. (2005) Synthetic Worlds: Nature, Art and the Chemical Industry, London: Reaktion

Ruskin, J. (1887) Stones of Venice, London: Wiley

Richard Serra, (1967-8) Verb List Compilation: Actions to Relate to Oneself

Sennett, R. (2008) The Craftsman, London: Allen Lane

Shapton, L. (2012) Swimming Studies, London: Particular