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SML1022 : Introduction to Cultural Studies

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Nick Morgan
  • Lecturer: Professor Guy Austin, Dr Jo Smith Finley, Dr Kathryn Robson
  • Other Staff: Miss Alba Griffin, Dr Gary Jenkins
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


In consonance with the overall aims of the degrees offered in the SML, this module aims to introduce students to key terms and concepts in Cultural Studies and prepare them for the skills and knowledge required to take cultural studies related modules at stages 2 and 4 (as detailed in the cultural studies thematic pathways).

It is often said that studying languages opens a door into other cultures. But what do we really mean when we say culture? Is it something we only find in museums, art galleries and the supplements of Sunday newspapers or is it something that all human beings produce in everything we do? What are cultural frontiers and where do they lie? What is a “subculture”? How many “cultural identities” can an individual have? Why do we sometimes feel that we are not “being ourselves”? What is the relationship between culture and power?

This course will attempt to provide some possible answers to these and many other questions by introducing students to a number of different approaches to the study of culture. In the process the seminars will present them with a number of unfamiliar cultural contexts in an attempt to broaden their “intercultural awareness” and develop the ideas presented in the lectures. At the same time, students will be invited to think critically about many of their own everyday practices, ranging from the way they talk or dress to how they use the internet or choose a particular type of music. In order to encourage them to do so, the course aims to help students to construct the critical vocabulary and conceptual framework necessary to take “culture” seriously, thereby enabling them to make the most of a wide range of courses available in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module is divided into three 7 week blocks. Each block is devoted to one of the following conceptual fields: Culture; Identities and Identifications; Hegemony and Resistance.
Each block consists of three weeks of introduction to the concept and key related terms, plus four weeks of seminars which focus on specific contexts that illustrate the concept. Topics will vary from year to year depending on staff availability but will be drawn from across the geographical areas taught by the school and may include music, art, photography, blogging, social networking sites, documentary, film, media, sport, clothing, religion, historical and political discourse. All material taught will be available in translation and classes will be non-language

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study164:0064:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will outline the various areas of study (and will be supplemented by Material on Blackboard). Students will be presented with examples of cultural texts/practics, and will be invited to choose their own research topics which will then form the basis of their final essay. The seminars will allow them to test their appropriation of the theoretical concepts.
1. The exam will allow student to check their progress incoming to terms with the key concepts presented during the course. THe emphasis here, therefore, will be on the "theoretical" texts. It will also, in conjunction with the practice test, provide an opportunity for students to receive formative feedback.
2. The essay will allow students to apply their critical anan;ysis of the analytical concepts to a specific context of their own choosing. This will not only test their real grasp of the material presented throughout the course but also provide practical experience in applying concepts in a specific context.
3. Resit-a formal university exam of 90 minutes.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A50One exam with advance information on questions to test readings and grasp of concepts.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M501750 word essay.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The module is assessed through an exam which tests the students' grasp of essential critical concepts and an essay which invites them to apply their knowledge to a specific context. This model assures conceptual clarity while privileging the students' ability to appropriate and use knowledge rather than simply repeat it.

Reading Lists