VA4016 - Visual Material Culture 2

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will be introduced to some fundamental principals in artistic production; how context contributes to the production of meaning in art making. You will develop your critical reflection from semester 1 while gaining insight to a range of contexts that are informed by material, social, political and historical concerns in art making. You will learn to identify your own perspectives in relation to the subjects you encounter. You will reflect on your own experiences in relation to the context of others and work to draw out critical understandings of how practice is informed by its social, political, historical and environmental experience.

How will I learn on this module?

The teaching takes place through a range of activities: lectures, fieldwork, workshops, and public-facing presentations by academic and creative professionals. You will learn through a range of student-centred and dialogical teaching approaches that allows you to identify your own position in relation to contemporary debates and art practices. You develop vital transferable skills applicable to a range of professional contexts. Fieldwork and workshops offer a lively space of discussion and participation. Additionally, learning takes place through online and library-based resources including books, e-books, journals, gallery press-releases and examples of artist self-publishing. The teaching contact, presentation-based components, and directed tasks and assessments equip you with the necessary artistic and research skills to develop a critical understanding of your own developing practice.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You are supported by an academic team, which teaches you across the various modules and a personal tutor to aid your wellbeing and provide general support. Your learning is mapped out for you in a series of briefs given to you during the semester. You are provided guidance notes and key dates for the semester to help you organise and plan your time. Teaching materials, notices and guidance are made available to you through our online electronic learning portal. This is accessible online both on campus and externally. You will have a University email that we contact you through, and all teaching schedules are published in your online timetable. To support you we provide you with on-going formative feedback through the teaching contact. You have twenty-four-hour access to the University Library.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

1. The production of work that evidences an appreciation for the relationship between material specificity and potential meaning.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

2. The evidence of emerging critical decision-making in relation to material-led enquiry.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

3. The acquisition and application of new transferable skills linked to academic curiosity for and cultural awareness of materiality.

How will I be assessed?

Summative Assessment:
Completion of a 1000 word critical reflection (from set questions), 50%
Submission of an Annotated Contextual Research Portfolio, 50%

Summative Assessment Feedback
You will receive verbal feedback from your Studio Tutor in your studio, alongside your work, within seven days of the submission deadline. Feedback is individual and provided in the context of the assessment criteria given to you at the start of the semester in the module guide.

Formative Feedback:
To prepare you successfully to undertake the summative assessment(s) on this module, formative assessments will be set by the module team. These may take the form of in-class tasks or projects, developmental activities undertaken between classes, or learning exercises/activities set over a longer period. Feedback (written and/or oral) will be provided to help you learn from, reflect on, and develop in light of these formative assessments.

The assessment tasks test all MLOs





Module abstract

This module builds on the learning from Visual Material Culture 1 and offers you the opportunity to begin to identify debates and positions in relation to your own interests. The module is delivered through a series of lectures and a public-facing event hosted within the department. The lecture program will develop your knowledge of contemporary and historical contexts in art practice, while the public event will focus on specific areas of research from the departmental staff (e.g. institutional critique, art school histories, experimental writing, race & sexuality, environmental practice and performance). You will be tasked with engaging and responding to practices and issues in context through written, visual and discursive forms.

Course info

UCAS Code W105

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Arts

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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