module specification

DN5018 - Practice: Manipulation (Portfolio) (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Practice: Manipulation (Portfolio)
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
219 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Diary
Coursework 50%   Portfolio
Running in 2018/19 No instances running in the year

Module summary

This year-long practice module offers students 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

Students 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 students 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 students 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 students 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.

This module will enable students 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.

Prior learning requirements

Pass and completion (120 credits) of prior level


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 LO1, LO2, LO4

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. LO2, LO3

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

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. apply first-hand experience of material, material and image manipulation in the critical and interpretative assessment of objects and designs;
2. explain the relationship of available materials and making/ manufacturing processes to the outcomes of design/ art, at a range of scales;
3. show how artefacts and images can be differently understood according to their juxtaposition with other objects within a wider system of representation;
4. 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, Yale University Press
Britton, A. (2013) Seeing Things: collected writing on art, craft and design, Occasional Papers
Flaubert, G. (1976) Bouvard and Pecuchet, Penguin
Ingold, T. (2000) The perception of the environment, Routledge
Ingold, T. (2013) Making: anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture, Routledge
Leslie, E. (2005) Synthetic Worlds: Nature, Art and the Chemical Industry, Reaktion
Ruskin, J. (1887) Stones of Venice, Wiley
Sennett, R. (2008) The Craftsman, Allen Lane
Shapton, L. (2012) Swimming Studies, Particular