Module Catalogue 2023/24

MCH2077 : Visual Culture

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Katie Markham
  • Other Staff: Miss Dana Bogova
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



Visual Culture is an innovative interdisciplinary module, which draws on theories and approaches from media and cultural Studies, fine art, film, memory studies and heritage. This module provides students with a grounding in the different disciplinary approaches to the visual and considers the way that our relationship to the visual has been shaped across time and space.

The emphasis on this module is on visual culture as a form of communication. To this end, students will be expected to develop appropriate analytical skills in decoding and assessing different types of visual communication, using a variety of different methodologies. This module aims:
• To explore the concept of the ‘visual’, both as a mode of communication and an interdisciplinary field of study.
• To provide students with a critical and comprehensive understanding of the role that visual communication plays in contemporary society, supported by an appreciation of the social and political histories of these acts of communication.
• To recognise the visual as political, social and cultural in nature and to understand how contemporary politics and culture shape acts of visual communication.
• To introduce a range of modalities of accessing, researching and comprehending visual acts of communication, including the ability to discriminate between types of visual communication.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module familiarizes students with the historical, political, social and economic contexts of visual communication and considers the visual in relation to a range of different topics. These may include:
• Perspective, and embodied approaches to visual culture
• Visual culture and the institution
• The photograph: histories, meanings, mobilities
• Exhibitionism, class and the visual
• Visual culture, commerce and consumption
• Visual culture, politics and the visuality of protest
• Digital visual cultures
• Visualizing time and place
• Cultural memory, trauma and the visual
• Visual culture and the body
• Offensiveness, taste and censorship

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students should be able to:
• Understand and critically appraise, using well established principles, the various approaches to
visual culture;
• Gain a critical understanding of a wide variety of specific research methods used in the domain of
visual culture;
• Develop familiarity with the main theoretical frameworks used for analysing specific aspects of
visual culture and how to access them;
• Demonstrate an ability to integrate knowledge and understanding of visual culture within the larger
frameworks of media studies, cultural studies and communication studies;
• Locate the significance of visual culture in contemporary political, economic and social contexts.

Intended Skill Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:
• Apply a broad range of analytical skills to the understanding of aspects of visual culture;
• Utilise a range of effective research methods in analysing visual culture;
• Display an intermediate level of visual literacy, being able to decode, interpret and compose visual
• Carry out various forms of advanced research for essays, projects, creative productions or
dissertations involving independent enquiry;
• Independently evaluate, draw upon and apply a range of sources and the conceptual frameworks
appropriate to intermediate level research in the area;
• Deliver work to a given length, format, brief and deadline, properly referencing sources and ideas
and making use, as appropriate, of a critical and reflexive problem-solving approach, and with an
adequate mastery of the English language appropriate for academic purposes;
• Gather, organise, digest and deploy substantial amounts of ideas, theoretical concepts and
information in order to formulate arguments clearly, and express them effectively in written, oral or in
other forms, including IT-media.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:0011 weekly lectures delivered on campus (can be delivered online if necessary)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00Essay preparation and completion
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion111:0011:00Discussion board contribution
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading114:0044:00Student readings and research in preparation for lecture and seminar discussion
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00On-campus seminars (can be delivered online if necessary)
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion112:0022:00Online. Peer-led reflections on assessment and module materials. Part of Assessment 1
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study150:0050:00General reading, writing lecture notes, writing seminar/workshop notes
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures in the module will introduce students to various aspects of contemporary visual culture. The module will draw attention to the prevalence of visual acts of communication in everyday life and will offer strategies to enhance the understanding of such instances of communication. The examples of case studies will consolidate the appropriation of research methods that have applicability for an integrated approach to media studies, cultural studies and communication studies. Students will be constantly presented with the interdisciplinary implications of analysing visual culture and will be made aware of avenues for more in-depth study of the area. The module will review a wide range of aspects of visual instances (painting, photography, advertising, film, television, new media, design, architecture, urbanism), looking at the political, cultural and social contexts in which they are produced and interpreted.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A60Critical essay, 2500 words
Portfolio2M40Minimum 3 x contributions to Canvas discussion board over module duration, plus 2 comments (circa 2000 words total). To be presented as a portfolio at the end of the module.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment methods offer students the opportunity to explore themes from the module and apply them in a theoretical and practical way. Essay 1 allows students to apply a theory or theme from the module to a visual text of their choice and use one of the methodological approaches from the module to generate an in-depth analysis of that text. This assignment is complemented by continued student participation in the online blog or discussion thread; students will be required to contribute to this thread over the course of the module, writing a minimum of 3 discussion posts responding to a theme or idea raised during the lecture, responding to each other’s posts and sharing examples of visual texts that relate to the lecture topics.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023/24 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.