Module Catalogue 2024/25

HCA1007 : Stuff: living in a material world

HCA1007 : Stuff: living in a material world

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Sophie Moore
  • Lecturer: Professor Mark Jackson, Dr Meg Kobza, Dr Felix Schulz, Dr Nicola Clarke, Professor Lisa-Marie Shillito, Dr Clare Hickman, Professor Chris Fowler, Professor Chantal Conneller
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



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, classics 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.

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.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

A critical awareness of differing ways in which people in different contexts use material culture
Knowledge of various approaches for the analysis of material culture in material culture studies
knowledge of various approaches to the interpretation of material culture in material culture studies
specific and detailed knowledge about particular artefacts chosen for the assignment.

Intended Skill Outcomes

- Intellectual skills of interpreting and analysing material culture
- Interdisciplinary skills of relating artefacts with art historical, archaeological and textual evidence

Key skills to develop:
- visual intelligence in studying artefact as evidence
- personal confidence of working within a small group
- presentation skills and public speaking skills

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00Lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion601:0060:00Research and writing time for object biography podcast and group project
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities181:0018:00seminar preparation and reading to support lecture materials
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching11:001:00Small group teaching - Live Online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Seminar sessions
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 two lectures and a seminar.

Key readings and multimedia material will be set in advance of each seminar 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.

LIVE ONLINE seminar ensures students have the set up, either on their personal computer or a university one, to successfully record and edit the podcast. Because students are recording sound it is impractical to teach this class in a computer cluster.

Reading Lists

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

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation2MGroup presentation (10 mins max) 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.
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 and producing publishable audio files.
This piece of assessment must provide:
1) a podcast script (with references and bibliography)
2) a podcast sound file in MP3 format (with the student’s voiceover reading the submitted text)

Assessment 2 Assemblage research paper group project

Rationale for unusual weighting of word count:
The research paper is group work, so in practice each individual student would not write more than the individual tariff limit of 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 their degree programs.

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.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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