module specification

CP5021A - Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (Visual Communication) (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (Visual Communication)
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 150
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
114 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Essay (2,500 words)
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester City Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

Critical and Contextual Studies 2 continues to orient and critically engage you in the history and theory of your discipline, its extent and conventions, and its broader social and material context in culture and contemporary practice. It builds on studies undertaken in Level 4 and prepares you as independent thinkers to be capable of selecting an appropriate topic and producing a sustained piece of independent study in the form of a dissertation in Level 6.

The module continues the process of constructing and questioning knowledge about your discipline, its history, contexts, and professional and ethical dimensions. It introduces and rehearses the analytical and discursive skills you need to become critically aware of the authorities, objects and practices in your field and able to express and debate the issues attaching to them. You will consider the roles and responsibilities  of professionals in your field and examine the ethical questions relevant to the discipline, becoming conversant with current debates in the subject. You will consider the priorities and points of view of the industry, the client, the designer, the consumer or user, the critic and wider society.

You are encouraged to think critically and creatively and to take responsibility for the development of your own learning. The module recognises that you are an active contributor to the process of learning: what you as a student bring to the construction and evaluation of knowledge matters – and how effectively you construct and evaluate that knowledge depends on how well you understand the field of your discipline as outlined above.

Critical and Contextual Studies for second year students is structured in order to foster confidence, through applying analytical skills to a growing body of knowledge and expressing this through debate, discussion and public presentation. Dialogue and exchange between students and tutors takes place in informal in-class settings and ensures that student experience and cultural and social capital is expressed and valued.

Prior learning requirements

Available for Study Abroad? YES


Critical and Contextual Studies 2: Visual Communication (Autumn semester) is structured a single teaching periods of twelve weeks, with submission for assessment at the end of the teaching period. The assessments for the t

The module supports you in researching, debating and critiquing issues and themes associated with your discipline, using theoretical approaches to place visual communication in its various contexts and to understand it from a range of alternative viewpoints.

Assessment: Essay (2,500 words)

(Learning Outcomes 1-6)

Skills acquired will include:

• how to select a suitable subject of study and construct a research question;
• how to identify where suitable source material for research may be found;
• critical skills for assessing the value of different sources;
• choosing a suitable theory or method through which to address your research question;
• how to comment critically and effectively on objects of study, such as images;
• how to plan, structure and present written work;
• how to manage referencing and bibliographies using a recognised system;
• how to avoid accidental plagiarism.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching provides the guidance and foundation to ensure that independent study is effective in addressing the module’s learning outcomes and assessment tasks.

In-class activity makes use of varied student-centred approaches such as active, flipped and blended learning, so that a range of learning strategies is deployed, and individual learning styles are accommodated. Information is provided through a range of means and sources to minimise and remove barriers to successful progress through the module. The course team seeks to embed the University’s Education for Social Justice Framework in fostering learning that is enjoyable, accessible, relevant and that takes account of the social and cultural context and capital of its students.

Activities foster peer-to-peer community building and support for learning. Reflective learning is promoted through interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, receive 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 written reflections on progress and achievement.

The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-based learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal and career 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 successful completion of the module you will be able to:

Knowledge and understanding
1. demonstrate some comparative knowledge of different aspects of visual communication and its broader contexts;

Cognitive intellectual abilities
2. recognise the relationship between the theories and practices of visual communication and design;
3. develop, structure and communicate an evidenced argument;

Subject specific skills
4. produce cogent oral, visual and written presentations, using appropriate scholarly methods, conventions and protocols;

Professionalism and values
5. understand the ethical and professional responsibilities appropriate to the practice of visual communication.

Assessment strategy

The module is assessed through the component as described below. You will receive a tutorial and commentary on your work before each submission and written feedback on the submitted work.

Essay (2,500 words)
The essay will critically investigate and analyse Visual Communication practice through the context of protest design.

Module assessment criteria:
1. engagement with the learning process and study skills;
2. quality of content (research, accuracy, relevance, scope);
3. quality of presentation (use of language, layout, referencing and academic protocols);
4. effective structure;
5. critical interpretation of images or artefacts;
6. deployment of critical and analytical skills (interpretation, debate and argument).