VA5010 - Place and Community: Artists Groups and Networks

What will I learn on this module?

This module blends history, theory, and practice through a series of lectures, seminars, workshops, and briefs. Throughout these you will be encouraged to consider the methods/forms by which artists have engaged directly with art institutions and communities. Since at least the 1990s there has been an explosion of art production that aims to organise and engage with other people – whether it’s referred to as community arts, participatory practice, social engagement, new institutionalism, new genre public art, or useful art. In these practices artists no longer make objects but organise and engage people, and these projects can take place in galleries and museums or outside in community spaces. At times these practices are politically utopian, at others ethically transgressive.

To start, this module will introduce you to theoretical and contextual ideas about this shift in contemporary art production through a series of lectures. Alongside, seminars will introduce an essential ‘toolkit’ for facilitation and for staging interactive or educational activities: these will include risk assessments, funding applications, reports, the nuts and bolts of building a participatory art practice. To support your ongoing professional practice, you will learn about exhibition and outreach processes, and explore broader questions relating to audience, ethics, professional skills, and safe working. You will devise creative responses and activities in response to a brief and be supported in the development of your independent practice. For assessment you will be required to reflect upon your personal experience, learning and development.

How will I learn on this module?

Your learning will be facilitated through scheduled teaching activities including weekly one-hour lectures and seminars, alongside workshops, a group project, external visits, and project supervision. Learning about the diverse ways contemporary art can engage different audiences, you will be introduced to creative practitioners and professionals working in the cultural sector. The lectures and seminars may include readings, presentations, film screenings and debates about ethical questions. You will learn the nuts and bolts of building a community-led art project and put this into practice through devising a response to a brief. This brief will invite you to learn collaboratively with peers by devising and facilitating creative responses and activities that respond to a set thematic enquiry. Working in teams, you will present your learning to peers and staff.

For assessment you will be required to reflect upon your personal experience, learning and development. You will embed your experiential learning through reflective report writing, evaluating your experience and detailing how you applied the transferable skills gained across the semester.

These approaches will help you to gain a wider understanding of the subject and start to position your practice within it. They support you to develop social, organisational, intellectual and professional skills. They enhance your learning in areas of communication, taking initiative, decision-making, problem solving, negotiation, critical reflection and independent working.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You are supported by the module lead; they will introduce the module at the start of the semester and offer advice and guidance throughout. At the start you are supported in safe working practices through training and instruction in health and safety, safeguarding and in ethics. This equips you for your group project and brief activities.

Your learning is mapped out in a module guide and in the live brief; this includes project timelines, guidance notes and key dates to help you organise and plan your time. Teaching materials, notices, and guidance, including the module guide are available to you through the online electronic learning portal; this is accessible online on and off campus. You will have a university email that we contact you through.

We support your learning by providing on-going feedback (formative and summative) through the range of teaching and learning approaches offered. We ask you to electronically submit your group presentation, reflective account, and placement report so you have an ongoing record of your learning.

Written feedback at the end of each assessment point supports your academic progress by assisting your reflection on and awareness of your achievements and potential as a learner.

Where appropriate you may also be directed to engage with our Skills Plus or other resources offered through the University Student Support Services such as Dyslexia Support. Guidance tutorials also provide opportunities for students to discuss, in confidence, their academic progress on the programme.

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. You will demonstrate applied knowledge of Place and Community/ Artists groups and networks necessary to engage artists and audiences within the context of contemporary arts practice.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

2. You will demonstrate advanced transferable skills and abilities and apply them to real situations, demonstrating reflective ability to connect, strategise, organise, act professionally and accept responsibility, either individually or as part of a team.

3. You will demonstrate advanced competencies to write reflectively, including presentation, structure, layout and referencing.

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

4. You will demonstrate competent application of Place and Community/ Artists groups and networks, in the context of contemporary art practice, including cultural awareness, ethics and safeguarding.

How will I be assessed?

Summative Assessment
1. Group presentation (following live brief) (40%)
Working with peers, you will make a reflective group presentation that evaluates your creative response to the live brief. Group presentations will be digital and can be submitted as a film or recorded PowerPoint. Each presentation should last between 8 and 10 minutes.

2. Individual written, reflective report following the Live Brief and Group Presentation(60%)
You will submit a 1000-word individual reflective writing that appraises your role in the group project, you will assess your performance against the module learning outcomes. The weighting of this assessment is 60%.

Summative Feedback
Individually focused feedback will be provided within 20 working days of each Summative Assessment submission deadline for this module. You will receive written feedback. All feedback will be provided in the context of the module learning outcomes and module assessment criteria.

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.

MLOs: Both summative tasks address all MLOs.





Module abstract

The Place and Community/ Artists Groups and Networks module explores why and how contemporary artists engage directly with art institutions and audiences. Whether gallery education, workshop facilitation, socially-engaged art, useful art, or community projects, such practices aim to turn contemporary art into a sphere of action. This module integrates history, theory and practice through a series of lectures, seminars, workshops and briefs, to introduce students to this broad shift in contemporary art production and support independent development.

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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