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SOC8048 : Visual Sociologies (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Elaine Campbell
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


This module introduces students to the eclectic world of visual sociologies, and positions sociological interest in 'visuality' within contemporary theories of social change and transformation.

The module:
(i) examines the centrality of 'the visual' to the cultural construction of social life;
(ii) explores key theoretical/conceptual perspectives on the 'visual';
(iii) introduces and practices a range of visual methodologies and frameworks of analytical inquiry;
(iv) critically explores the contours of 'visual cultures', noting the ethical, social and political relations and effects of visual objects and scopic regimes.

Outline Of Syllabus

Theme 1: Visual Cultures and Social Transformation (two hours - lecture, discussion and practical exercises)

The 'cultural turn'
Modernity and postmodernity
Scopic regimes
The society of the spectacle
Seeing with critical eyes

Theme 2: Theorising The Visual (two hours - lecture, discussion and practical exercises)

Erving Goffman on dramaturgy
Roland Barthes on photography
Jean Baudrillard on simulacra
Mikhail Bakhtin on carnival
Michel Focault on panopticism
Mieke Bal on 'visual essentialism'

Theme 3: Visual cultures and the ethics of looking (two hours - lecture, discussion and practical exercises)
Display and exhibition
The gaze, scopophilia and voyeurism

Theme 4: Analysing The Visual I (two hours - lecture, discussion and practical exercises)

The 'good eye' and compositional interpretation
Semiotic and representational analysis
Elements of a critical visual analysis

Theme 5: Analysing The Visual II (two hours - lecture, discussion and practical exercises)

Archaeological method
Genealogical method
Non-representational approaches

Supplementary compulsory content

Fieldtrip - visual ethnography of campus
Fieldwork involving primary data collection (two hours)
Fieldwork workshop and discussion (two hours)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture52:0010:00Incorporates interactive components PiP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops22:004:00PiP
Guided Independent StudyProject work12:002:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork12:002:00PiP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery10:150:15PiP
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study181:4581:45N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures (five x two hours) engage students with the key theoretical, conceptual and methodological approaches to visual sociological work. These two hour sessions incorporate interactive and case study analysis components which provide students with the important 'hands-on' experience of applying theoretical understanding of visual life to a range of media, materials and data.

Workshops (two x two hours) are focused on: (i) a reflective review and discussion of the fieldtrip; and (ii) a practical and interactive session in which students present and discuss the data and findings of the fieldwork exercise.

Fieldtrip (two hours) facilitiates a focused fieldwork experience which takes students out of the classroom, and allows them to engage with, and explore in a very practical way, the material taught in lectures.

Fieldwork (two hours) will involve primary data colelction, and will further develop students' skills and confidence in undertaking a visual sociological research.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A1002500 words - there is a choice to undertake an essay or a case study
Assessment Rationale And Relationship


Students are required to critically appraise published academic material to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of different theoretical, methodological and analytical perspectives on visual life. Students will be free to select for themselves the substantive topic of the essay.


Critical Case Study

Students will be required to submit a critical case study which will assess their ability to apply analytical and methodological frameworks to an area of visual life. Students will be free to select for themselves the material and focus of the critical case study.

Reading Lists