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MCH3081 : Digital Interface Cultures

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr James Ash
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


1.To extend students’ depth of knowledge and skills in interpretation of media and cultural theory in relation to interfaces and the cultural practices associated with interfaces.

2.To impart students with the critical analysis skills necessary to link media and cultural theory to specific contemporary examples of interfaces, thus enabling students to reflect on the current media environment in relation to politics and culture.

3.To introduce students to cutting-edge areas of interdisciplinary research across cultural geography and cultural theory in order to broaden their analytical capacity to create connections and associations between a range of research areas and topics in relation to interfaces.

From smart phones and watches to videogames, tablets and laptops, everyday life is increasingly mediated by digital interfaces. The aim of this module is to investigate and understand how digital interfaces are changing our experience of the world on a variety of cultural, economic and political registers. Drawing upon a range of interdisciplinary perspectives across mobility studies, software studies and cultural geography, students will be encouraged to see the broader importance of theorising digital interfaces for understanding and studying the contemporary world.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module is aimed at students who have knowledge of introductory debates within media studies and wish to understand and become familiar with cutting-edge research in relation to interfaces. The module will encourage students to critically analyse the role that interfaces play in the organisation of everyday life, through a range of political, economic, governmental and cultural processes and actors.

The two key questions the module seeks to answer are:
1.What are digital interfaces?
2.How do particular interfaces shape the experience of everyday life for those that engage with them?

To do this, the module will discuss different theoretical approaches to digital interfaces and how they link to broader technologies such as WiFi and Cloud Technology, Social Networking and Mobile Gaming amongst others. Indicative topics may include:

Interface theory
Control and Power in Interfaces
Interface Design
Interfaces and Labour
Interface Envelopes
Gamification in Interfaces
Discrimination and Interfaces
Interfaces and Affect
Interfaces and Attention

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion185:0085:00research and writing time for assessment two (essay).
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion182:0082:00research and preparation time for assessment one (individual oral presentation).
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:001-hour lecture to discuss topics that will be expanded upon in 2-hour workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops112:0022:00Guided workshop (including interactive group activities)
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Due to the complex nature of material and in-depth engagement required, lectures will be 1 hour supported by a 2 hour workshop each week. this enables more interaction between staff/students and revolves around specific interactive learning activities designed by the Module leader. These activities integrate part of the formative assessment and feedback ahead of the summative assessments.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A652500 words
Oral Examination1M3515 minute single person oral presentation
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The module utilises a two assessment structure. The first assessment will be a 20-minute individual talk on the analysis of one interface of the student's choosing (35% of the mark), which will be scheduled during the two-hour weekly workshop. At the end of the module students will complete a 2,500-word essay from a choice of essay questions set by the module leader (65% of mark).

Reading Lists