module specification

FA7027 - Theoretical Studies for Art, Architecture and Design (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Theoretical Studies for Art, Architecture and Design
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 200
161 hours Guided independent study
39 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Essay (3000 words)
Running in 2018/19
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester City - -

Module summary

This module examines a number of key perspectives from which students may explore the contexts and implications of their own practice and the works that they produce. Seminars encourage group discussion of a range of theoretical frameworks, and their controversies and criticisms, through examination of selected texts and projects.

The module culminates in the production of an essay on themes and issues identified as relevant to the student’s own practice and evolving research project, through negotiation with the student’s supervisor.

Module aims

The module aims to:

  • Enable students to refine their understanding of debates and issues which are integral to their project
  • Further develop and consolidate critical and analytical thinking;
  • Define understanding of the relation of theory to practice (and practice in relation to theory);                
  • Enable students to engage with a range of critical debates and vocabularies applicable to their work.


A series of workshops, generated from initial readings of texts and projects, locate key theoreical frameworks in relation to the arts and design.

Indicative seminar topics include:

  • Work and Labour
  • Technology
  • Aesthetics
  • Embodiment, Experience and Empathy
  • Historiography
  • Gender
  • Postcolonialism
  • Environment

Learning and teaching

The Learning and Teaching strategy for the module is based upon:

workshops on specific texts explore, share and analyse case studies. Texts will reflect the range of issues being researched by the cohort and will therefore vary from year to year.

group and individual tutorials support students to identify and work through the specific theoretical contexts related to their work and discuss and negotiate their essay topics

independent study is a key aspect of the module which sets out to engage students in theoretical research related to their own project or practice and requires a level of self organisation and the development of independent learning skills.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  1. Engage effectively with the theoretical context of their work using appropriate critical language;
  2. Evidence their awareness and understanding of critical debates and issues which relate to their project/dissertation;
  3. Communicate, discuss and present findings using appropriate theoretical and critical language, demonstrating articulation, analysis and reflection;
  4. Employ independent learning and research strategies to develop their reading and project bibliography.

Assessment strategy

This module will be assessed by:

An Essay (3,000 words) generated from the analysis of theoretical discourse related to the project (appropriately presented according to the conventions of scholarly writing and citation).

Work will be assessed against the learning outcomes in relation to the following criteria:

  • Appropriate use of research methods, scholarly conventions and academic apparatus
  • Quality of analysis and interpretation
  • Subject knowledge and relevance
  • Quality of communication and presentation


The following are indicative only. Refereed journals/articles and electronic resources: issued according to syllabus.

Adorno, Benjamin, &Bloch, Aesthetics and Politics

MiekeBal, Louise Bourgeois’ Spider: The Architecture of Art Writing

Georges Bataille, ‘The Formless’ in Visions of Excess

HomiBhaba, The Coloniser and The Colonised

Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship

Nicholas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics

RosiBraidotti, Nomadic Subjects

Edmund Burke: A Philosophical Enquiry Into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful

Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter
Mario Carpo, The Alphabet and the Algorithm (2011)

E. H. Carr, What is History?

Stephanie Coontz and Peta Henderson (ed.), Women’s Work, Men’s Property: The Origins of Gender and Class

Cottrell, S. (2005) Critical Thinking Skills, Developing effective analysis and argument, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Jacques Derrida. The Truth in Painting

Thiery de Duve, Kant after Duchamp

Andrew Feenberg, Questioning Technology

Hal Foster, The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture

Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish

Sigfried Gideon, Mechanization Takes Control

ClementGreenberg : Collected Essays Vol.1

Donna Haraway, Manifesto for Cyborgs

Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology

G.W.F Hegel, Lectures on the Fine Arts

Rosalind Krauss & Y-A. Bois: Formless: A User’s Guide

Spyros Papapetros, On the Animation of the Inorganic

MerlauPonty, The Phenomenology of Perception

Potts, A. The Sculptural Imagination Yale University Press

Jacques Ranciere,Aisthesis: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art

Jane Rendell, The Pursuit of Pleasure

Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain

Richard Sennett, The Craftsman

HitoSteryl, The Wretched of the Screen

Alison Stone, Luce Irigaray and the Philosophy of Sexual Difference

Peter Paul Verbeek, Moralizing Technology: understanding and designing the morality of things

William, B and Hale, J et al. Rethinking Technology: A Reader in Architectural Theory.