Module Catalogue 2019/20

MCH2077 : Visual Culture

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Katie Markham
  • 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



1. A comprehensive understanding of the role of visual forms of communication in contemporary
society, supported by an understanding of historical visual cultures foundation of historical knowledge.
2. Modalities of accessing, researching and comprehending visual acts of communication.
3. Skills and experiences necessary in understanding and generating visual acts of communication.
4. The ability to recognise and discriminate between various types of visual communication.
5. An understanding of the specificity of visual contexts encountered in a social and political context.
6. Familiarity with debates about contemporary visual art and new media.

Outline Of Syllabus

Introduction. Reading the visual: analytical tools and theories 1
Reading the visual: analytical tools and theories 2
Art as visual culture, or art and visual culture?
Visual culture, commerce and consumption
The photograph: histories, meanings, mobilities
Exhibitionary Politics
Visualising time and place
Images and Cultural Memory
The visuality of protest
Religion and the visual
Offensiveness, taste, censorship
Module review: images and realities

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

On completion of the module, student 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

After studying 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
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion116:0016:00Presentation preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00Essay
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Portfolio Preparation
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading123:0036:00Weekly seminar reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study401:0040:00N/A
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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation152M25Contextualise, interpret and analyse a visual text.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A502,000 words
Portfolio2M25Part 1 - evidence of group presentation research and planning Part 2 - 2 x critical responses of 500 words (1,000 words in total)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

1. Students will have to give a presentation in which they contextualise, interpret and analyse a visual text (to be agreed with module and/or seminar leader). This assesses critical and analytical skills alongside communication
skills. The presentation is also the basis for a short portfolio summarising and reflecting upon the research and planning, intended to evidence critical ability and written/visual communication skills.

2. Students will write a 2000-word essay EITHER relating the use of images to specific theoretical, socio-historical and contextual issues OR critically assessing a particular theoretical approach or tradition. The analytical essay will allow students to make proof of analytical and critical skills, to develop their information literacy and practice their writing skills. They will demonstrate a thorough understanding of theory and its applicability to other areas, its importance in developing research, as well as its limitations. Alongside this students’ research skills, problem solving abilities, adaptability and initiative will be tested. Students will have to show a thorough understanding of specific research methods used in the area of visual culture, to apply these methods and to present their findings in a coherent, credible and convincing essay.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 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 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.