5.8 Unit 8 Culture and Context
Level Level 5 FHEQ
Location within Course Weeks 1 – 30
Credit Rating 20 Credits
Indicative Learning Hours 200 hours
Notional Contact Hours 30 hours
Access to Supervised Facilities 80 hours
Independent Study 90 hours
This unit initially focuses upon a range of thematic areas such as youth, memory, surveillance, mediation and realities in which the emphasis is on our relationship to our environment and the way we choose to communicate within it. You will be required to present work through an auditory or visual medium, which highlights specific examples of communication within the areas we discuss.
Following on from this you are introduced to readings within a variety of contemporary subject areas intended to both inspire and focus you in thinking about and selecting possible topics for your dissertation in your final year.
Each week a specific text will be read and analysed. In small groups you will be asked to lead a week‟s discussion in relation to an allocated text. You will be asked to prepare topics for discussion and draw up proposals for suitable research areas.
• Weekly explorations of contemporary cultural debates which impact on visual culture such as memory, surveillance, youth, identity and an introduction to structuralism and semiotics.
• Methodologies, research and presentation skills.
Personal and Professional Development
• Apply learning skills and demonstrate self-directed learning.
• Demonstrate communication skills and use within the context of self-directed
Learning and Teaching Methods
• This unit is introduced through lectures/seminars.
- · Professional speakers programme
• Self-directed learning is an essential part of this unit.
On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to achieve the following
Unit 8 Learning Outcomes
Analysis and Subject Knowledge
1. demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of key
principles, theories, contexts and debates that inform contemporary Graphic Design practice, and the way that these concerns have evolved.
2. apply established critical research methods, interpret research findings and evaluate the place of your design practice in relation to broader contexts and practices.
Communication and Presentation
3. effectively communicate ideas with structured and coherent arguments using appropriate terminology and academic writing conventions, including accurate referencing.
UAL Marking Criteria
Your work in this unit will be assessed against University of the Arts marking criteria, which are designed to give you clear feedback on your achievement. The table above indicates how they relate to the unit learning outcomes.
The full marking criteria descriptions for Learning Outcomes and UAL standard student feedback form for assessment can be found under
Assessment and further information can be found on the Assessment website at: http://www.arts.ac.uk/assessment/markingcriteria/index.html
• A group presentation and a 1,000 word report based on a brief.
• A 3000 word essay with full bibliography.
• A 500 word written thesis proposal with full bibliography.
Assessment of this unit is holistic, so there will be no breakdown of grades for the different assessment elements listed above. Instead, the assessment elements will be considered together, and the tutors will use their academic judgment to arrive at a grade for the unit as a whole.
Recommended Texts and Resources
Baudrillard, J. (1994) Simulacra and Simulation. The University of Michigan Press, translated by Sheila Glaser.
Bierut, M., Drenttel, W. & Heller, S. (2002) Looking Closer 4: Critical Writings on Graphic Design. Allworth Press.
Bell, D. & Kennedy, B. Eds. (2000) The Cybercultures reader. Routledge.
Bogard, W. (1996) The simulation of surveillance. Cambridge University Press.
Bourdieu, P. (198) Distinction. Harvard University Press.
Bourriaud, N. (2002) Postproduction: culture as screenplay: how art reprograms the world. Lukas and Sternberg New York.
Debord, G. (1967) The Society of the Spectacle, [Internet], translated by Ken Knabb, Bureau of Public Secrets, Available from: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/debord/ [Accessed 9 November 2008].
Featherstone, M. (1991) Consumer culture and postmodernism. Sage
Finkelstein, J. (2007) The Art of Self Invention, I. B. Taurus Co. & Ltd: London
Kristeva, J.(1986) Notions of intertextuality
Levin, T. Y., Frohne, U. & Weibel, P. (2002) Ctrl[Space] – Rhetorics of Surveillance
from Bentham to Big Brother. ZKM/Centre for Arts and Media, Karlsruhe.
Lyon, D. (2001) Surveillance society: monitoring everyday life. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Lury, C. (1998) Prosthetic Culture: Photography, Memory and Identity. London: Routledge.
Manovich, L. (2001) The language of new media. London: MIT.
Mirzoeff, N ed. (1998) The visual culture reader. Routledge
Mitchell, W.J. (1994) The Reconfigured Eye: Visual Truth in the Post-photographic Era. Massachusetts: MIT Press.
Massumi, B. (1987) Realer Than Real – The Simulacrum According to Deleuze and Guattari. [Internet]. Available from
http://www.anu.edu.au/hrc/first_and_last/works/realer.htm [Accessed May 2010].
Murphie, A. & Potts, J. (2003) Culture and technology. Palgrave: http://www.ctheory.net
Sontag, S. (1979) On Photography. London: Penguin Books
Stald, G. (2008) Mobile Identity: Youth, Identity, and Mobile Communication Media. In: Buckingham, D. [editor] (2008) Youth, Identity, and Digital Media. London: TheMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Press
Tagg, J. (1988) The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and
Histories. Hampshire: Macmillan Education Ltd.
Turkle, S. (1995) Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. Simon & Schuster.
Virilio, P. (1991) The Aesthetics of Disappearance. New York: Semiotexte.
Virilio, P. (2005) Negative Horizon. Continuum: London
Adbusters – Social activist magazine and network
http://www.briefhistory.com – broken link (good source on the ethical struggle over the web).
Nettime – mailing list for culture, technology and governance.
Available from: http://www.nettime.org
Ctheory – online journals; essays on technology, culture and globalisation
Available from: http://www.ctheory.net
Creative Commons – Licenses and information on distributed creativity.
Available from: http://www.creativecommons.org
La Jetee (1962, Nouveaux Pictures), Junkopia (1981, Argos Films) and San Soleil (1985, Nouveaux Pictures). All directed by Chris Marker.
2002: The Century of the Self (2002) Directed by Adam Curtis. London: BBC Four, Monday 29 April – Thursday 2 May 2002. [Television series]
The Power of Nightmares (2004) Directed by Adam Curtis. London: BBC Two
The Trap – What Happened to our Dream of Freedom (2007) Produced by Adam Curtis. London: BBC Two
The Corporation (2003) Directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott.
Koyanisqaatsi (1982, IRE Productions), Powaqqatsi (1988,Golan Globus
Productions) and Naqoyqatsi (2002, Miramax Pictures). All Directed by Godfrey Reggio.
Zeitgeist: Addendum (2008) Directed by Peter Joseph. GMP. [Intertnet] Available from
Also available from < http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/>