• Year 1 introduction to histories, theories and debates relevant to design and visual communications. The unit will work alongside your studio practice projects to explore subject specific content as well as common themes and cross-fertilizations that occur between theory and culture. At the beginning of the Summer term you will choose two contextual and theoretical studies options to study in year two from approximately twenty topics offered. It is possible to select subjects that link to pathways but this is not mandatory.

  • This unit introduces you to histories, theories and debates in relation to design and visual media and visual and material culture. It will focus on the development of twentieth and twenty-first century ideas in design and explore the common themes and cross-fertilisations that occur between theory and culture. We will examine design in a range of media and through a variety of representations. These examples will be located in their broader social, historical and cultural contexts in order to consider the multiplicity of meanings and functions assigned to visual culture.The individual forms of cultural production, design and media will be related to discourses such as: theories of design and designers in 21st century social, economic and cultural contexts; ethical design practices and design activism; politics of designing for cultural and social identity, including gender, ethnicity, class, age, dis/abilities; narrative innovation for user and viewer engagement and communication; ideologies and practices of design for sustainability.
  • The unit will enable you to consider the impact of contemporary cultural production in relation to design, visual and material culture by linking your contextual and theoretical research to studio projects and practice. The aim is to broaden your perspective by positioning design within contemporary cultures; to encourage you to make connections to wider issues and contexts; and to provide you with an introduction to the theoretical tools and methodologies that will open up your frames of reference. The unit will support you in the development of research methods and written and oral communication skills.



  • Year 2 – your knowledge and understanding of the historical, social, theoretical and cultural developments of design and visual communications is broadened and deepened by focusing on specific options. The options provide an opportunity to network with students from other disciplines and to become part of a multidisciplinary community of practice. In year 2 you also make decisions about the self-determined piece of written work you will undertake in year 3. If you choose Route A you will write an extended piece of written work (8-10,000 words) whereas if you select Route B you will write a report, rationale, a review, or an article (4-5,000 words). A written proposal for the written piece of work (Route A or Route B) is submitted part way through the summer term.

  • This unit provides a programme of work based on two Option subjects from the field of art, design and visual culture selected for study in Terms 1 and 2 and the production of a Thesis proposal in Term 3.You will engage in critical reading, research methods seminars, writing workshops and further study related to key concepts, debates and theories. This focus on acquiring skills in research and critical analysis will enable you to formulate and develop the dissertation proposal pursued at the end of the unit. The comprehensive number of option choices will allow you to both extend your knowledge in relation to your main studio specialisms and to broaden your knowledge in the wider field of art and design.
  • Throughout the year the Options and Thesis Proposal sessions will be supported by Research Methods Seminars that will introduce you to diverse elements of research as well as to a variety of research methods and methodologies. These seminars will also help you appreciate the interdisciplinary context within which processes of designing and theorising design take place and help you to research and write at BA level. It will allow you to recognize and use interdisciplinary approaches in design and cultural analysis through texts, objects, practices. The seminars will engage with a diversity of key terms and concepts and show how they are used in research and in practice.



  • Year 3 – Depending on whether you choose Route A or Route B you will complete either an extended piece of written work (8-10,000 words) for Route A or a report, rationale, a review, or an article (4-5,000 words) for Route B.

  • This unit is the culmination of the Contextual and Theoretical Studies component of your course, and provides you with the opportunity to utilise the knowledge and analytical skills acquired in relation to visual culture and critical theory in the realisation of a self-determined thesis. The subject of the thesis will be based on the the proposal and literature review you produced at the end of the second year and could emerge from issues raised through the Contextual and Theoretical Studies components of the course or from design practice. It will build upon the knowledge and skills of critical analysis, detailed research and evaluation to produce a convincing and distinctive thesis. Your thesis should demonstrate intellectual rigour and exhibit the written skills relevant to the communication of complex contextual and theoretical debates.



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