Global Opportunities

HCA1007 : Stuff: living in a material world

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Why do you love your new phone? Why do we style our homes? Why do we care when some things are broken? What can you tell about a person from their shoes, their car, or even from their evening meal? This module aims to introduce students to ideas about people and their things. It is concerned with one of the most fundamental parts of our lives: our stuff. We will consider why and how people use things in their lives. We will interpret ways in which we use things and ways in which things can exert power over us.

As humans we surround ourselves with things which play an important part in our lives whether we recognize them as significant or not. Graduates in a variety of careers need to be equipped to interpret the role of all kinds of objects in people’s lives. We will give you the skills to consider objects and people from different times and different places to help you to understand our contemporary world. This module will be of interest therefore to anyone who seeks to work with people and things in a range of disciplines and careers such as business, marketing, economics, film studies, english literature, heritage and tourism, geography, sociology, architecture, art, history or archaeology.

This module will introduce students to the study of stuff (also known as material culture studies!) through a series of thematic teaching sessions based on both lectures and workshops. Each week, we will introduce theories of material culture and examine the work of key scholars who have influenced thinking in material culture studies. Students will work together to reinforce and develop learning in practical sessions and assignments. The module will make use of the Great North Museum: Hancock’s artefact collection and other resources available locally in Newcastle city centre from shopping centres to art galleries and will seek to build both subject-specific skills and key graduate skills.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus will include topics covering broadly those areas outlined here

Block 1: What is Stuff?
Block 2: Stuff and You
Block 3: Power and War
Block 4: Childish Things?
Block 5: Coming of age and Death
Block 6: The concept of Clean
Block 7: Value and Exchange
Block 8: Eating Stuff
Block 9: Belief and immaterial things

In addition, students will be provided with sessions on producing podcasts and successful group projects.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials101:0010:00Asynchronous Lecture materials (counts towards student contact)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion601:0060:00Research and writing time for object biography podcast and group project
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00Lectures (in person if possible)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Seminar sessions, on campus if possible
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities181:0018:00seminar preparation and reading to support lecture materials
Guided Independent StudySkills practice81:008:00skill aquisition for podcasting
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops13:003:00Group presentation workshop
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study811:0081:00Exploration of online resources and provided reading lists to support students own interests.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Each block contains one synchronous lecture, one synchronous seminar and an hour of asynchronous lecture materials.

Key readings and multimedia material will be set in advance of each workshop to develop student's critical appraisal of material.

LECTURES impart core knowledge and an outline of the knowledge that students are expected to acquire and they stimulate development of listening and note taking skills.

SEMINARS/ workshops encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral presentation, interpersonal communication, problem-solving skills and adaptability.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Design/Creative proj2M501000 Word podcast script and podcast
Research paper2A503000 words - Group Project Research Paper
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation2MGroup presentation of assignment two, to allow for feedback and peer review prior to assessment submission
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Assessment 1 Object Biography Podcast.
Students are to script and perform a podcast (1000 words) on an object biography. This must be based on a single selected artefact to be agreed with module leader.
Students will gain the research skills needed to write a critically informed study of their chosen artefact, while writing for a podcast aimed at the public. Thinking about their audience will enable students to develop their writing skills and delivering the podcast will enable them to practice skills in public speaking.
This piece of assessment must provide:
1) a podcast script (with references and bibliography)
2) An image to front the podcast
3) a podcast sound file (with the student’s voiceover reading the submitted text)

Assessment 2 Assemblage research paper group project

Rationale for unusual weighting of word count: credit
The research paper is group work, so in practice each individual student would not write more than 2000 words to contribute to the 3000 word group project. If reduced to the standard 2000 word:10 credit ratio, individual students would write very little for 50% of their mark. The intention with the research project is to allow students to build the skills required for a more substantial piece of work in a team, supported by each-other and the module leader before moving towards independent research design later in the degree program.

Students will collaborate on a project in small groups in order to explore an assemblage or artefact type.

Student teams will design a plan and timetable for their project, to be submitted with the assessment.
Students will also reflect on experience of the project, and include this reflection with the research paper.

The submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

Formative assessment - Group Presentation

As part of designing and researching the group project, students will be given an oppourtunity to present their ideas to the class prior to the assessment period. This creates a mid-way point for the assignment, develops key skills in presenting ideas and public speaking, and gives students an oppourtunity to receive and act on feedback prior to the submission of their final assessment.

All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:

Modules assessed by Coursework and Exam:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be one essay in addition to the other coursework assessment (the length of the essay should be adjusted in order to comply with the assessment tariff); to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Exam only:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 2,000 word written exercises; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.
Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.

Reading Lists