module specification

SM4F01 - Visual Communication (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Visual Communication
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
210 hours Guided independent study
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Seminar 15%   Seminar
Coursework 35%   Essay (2000wds)
Coursework 50%   Digital media artefacts and log
Running in 2024/25

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

Module summary

This module underpins the work produced in the practical modules and looks explores the way that messages are communicated through media products. Using examples from history and contemporary practice you will explore the evolution of visual languages, and the devices used in the media industry to inform, persuade and instruct an audience. The module also teaches you how to research, plan and present an academic essay. The ideas covered will also be developed and contextualised through the creation of media artefacts.

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

The module aims to:

1. provide learners with an understanding of the importance of style and genre in the media.
2. enable learners to research and evaluate a wide range of media forms.
3. develop skills in conducting academic research,  presenting seminars and essay writing
4. develop skills in communicating meanings, messages and information effectively.
5. enable learners to produce effective media artefacts aimed at defined audiences.


An indicative programme of study covers the following:
• Historical context: the role of the visual artist
• Semiotics primer
• Image deconstruction
• Representation, gender, identity and race
• Signs, symbols , metaphors and visual cues
• Image composition and construction
• Grammars of design
• The meaning of Style
• Culture, language and audience
• Narratives
• Understanding audiences
• Credibility in design

Learning and teaching

This module deals with complex concepts and ideas, so a range of teaching methods will be employed to help students engage with and make connections between these. Lectures and seminars will provide a platform to facilitate discussion, while online resources and direction will guide independent study.  As many FdA students have substantial life experience, therewill be a commitment to ascertain and share what preconceptions and knowledge they bring to the topic in hand. Learners will be encouraged to research an area in depth and prepare a group seminar to disseminate this knowledge.  At an academic level, diagnostic tasks will be performed to identify learners requiring extra support.  This will be provided through tutorials and recorded on the PLP. Learners will also be encouraged to explore, manipulate and distort visual communications through practical work.

Learning outcomes

knowledge and understanding:
1. Understand key concepts of visual communication and the construction of meaning.
cognitive intellectual skills:
2. Conduct academic research and select appropriate material
3. Use essay writing form and Harvard referencing

transferable skills including those of employability and professional practice:
4. Use a range of communication and study skills
5. Develop skills for conducting seminars

subject-specific practical skills:
6. Communicate concepts and ideas through the production of media artefacts


Barthes, R., (1993) Mythologies, Vintage Classics; London
Berger, J., (2007) Ways of Seeing, Penguin; London
Drew, S, & Bingham, R., (2012) The Student Skills Guide, 3rd Edition; Gower Publications
Howells,R and Negerios J. (2012) Visual Culture; Polity
Mirzoeff, N . (2012) The Visual Culture Reader; Routledge
Stewart Mann, Dr.  (2010)   Study Skills for Art, Design and Media Students; Longman
Creative Review, [JOURNAL], Centaur Publications Ltd