SM6070 - Research in Visual Culture (2023/24)
|Module approved to run in 2023/24
|Research in Visual Culture
|Credit rating for module
|School of Computing and Digital Media
|Total study hours
|Running in 2023/24(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
This one-semester module aims to develop students’ appreciation for and understanding of research in relation to visual aspects of culture. The module provides students with methods and conceptual tools for approaching independent research into visual culture, including art, photography, film and television, and using for visual material as a research tool.
The module builds upon students prior knowledge of theories and debates relevant to visual works and materials, and it will encourage and facilitate the development of deeper engagement with, and understanding of this area of research. The module provides preparation for dissertation research involving visual culture using visual material within research.
The module has two distinct halves: first considering theories and methods relevant to the undertaking of research on visual culture, and second examining the use of visual material as research method in itself. As such, the module will both draw on traditional academic qualitative research methods insofar as they are applicable, and draw on the insights and methodologies offered by visual anthropology/sociology.
The module will facilitate the development of skills and knowledge pertinent to the design of independent research, including:
● understanding the essential relationship between research methods and the problems they are intended to address
● appreciation of the value of visual material in research
● understanding the gains and limitations of visual material
The practical and intellectual skills gained are all transferrable and highly relevant to future employment in a wide range of areas, and particularly within parts of the cultural industries specifically concerned with visual materials.
The module will be divided into two blocks, each focussing on one of the two major areas of research to be covered:
Block One will introduce students to some of the key ideas relevant to the use of research as a way of acquiring knowledge and will introduce students to specific methods pertinent to research into visual culture and documentary practice. Areas covered will include epistemology, semiotics, discourse analysis, content analysis and reception study.
Block Two will consider the uses of documentary photography and film as a research tool in itself and will introduce students to key ideas and methods in the practice of visual anthropology/sociology.
Learning Outcomes LO 1 - 4
Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity
In class teaching and activities:
45 hours, 3 hours a week for 15 weeks
Guided Independent Study
Preparation of material for assessment (including photography and final preparation for presentation)
Students will be encouraged to make full use of online resources, to engage with the tutor via electronic communication methods such as skype. Students are expected to maintain a reflective, critical approach
At the end of this module, students who actively engage with the reading, practical and theoretical exercises will be able to:
1. Understand and use a range of research methods applicable to research into a range of aspects of visual culture including art, photography, film and television
2. Understand and explain key issues in the practice of visual anthropology/sociology
3. Design and develop a viable small research project examining an aspect of visual culture including art, photography, film and television
4. Design and develop a viable small research project using visual material as a research method
Formative and summative assessment will be given via written feedback on CWK 1 – a case-study critique - given to students through weblearn. This feedback, insofar as it is formative, will specifically address areas that students can work on in preparing for the final summative assessments. Students will be able to discuss this feedback in individual tutorials with the course tutor. CWK 1 will involve students’ selecting a case-study relating to the use of visual methods or visual material in research, from a list provided at the start of the module, and writing a short critical review of the research.
Summative assessment will be by way of CWK 2, a Research Proposal for a visual research project.
A marking scheme will be included in the module handbook to ensure students are familiar with the criteria by which their work will be assessed.
Margolis, E. and Pauwels, L. (2011). The Sage Handbook of Visual Research Methods. London: Sage.
Other Texts: Banks, M. (2015) Visual Methods in Social Research 2nd Edn. London: Sage.
Pauwels, L. (2017) Reframing Visual Social Science: Towards a More Visual Sociology and Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Journal of Visual Culture. London: Sage
Visual Studies. London: Routledge
Photography and Culture. London: Routledge.
Philosophy of Photography. Bristol: Intellect Books
British Journal of Photography