VA5014 - Worldbuilding

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will learn about how worldbuilding has been used as a strategy within contemporary art, and you will have the opportunity to develop worldbuilding possibilities in your own developing critical practice. We will look at relevant examples of such worldbuilding practice and consider the aesthetic, political and ethical worlds they put forward. You will also be introduced to practices and thinkers that consider the plurality of worlds that already exist all around us, and how these might be foregrounded in artistic work.

How will I learn on this module?

A lecture will introduce you to the module and the themes and ideas that we will be working with. The studio and project spaces are the primary location for learning. It is here that you will reflect on the teaching offered and produce artworks that evidence your understanding as well as your own curiosity.

Briefs will be provided that draw out themes and approaches from worldbuilding practice and allow you to initiate your own projects and develop skills in creativity and experimentation. The briefs will also offer opportunities for collaborative and collective art making within your peer group.

Group sessions every other week are constructed so as to be flexible in content and to encourage a merging of practice with theory, which is often prevalent in worldbuilding practice. These sessions will involve: seminars looking at particular examples of artworks and relevant theoretical texts; workshops on collective and collaborative art-making; group tutorials where you will have the opportunity to discuss work in progress with your peers with support from academic staff.

Technical demonstration sessions happen every other week and will focus on introducing you to processes that are relevant and often collaborative – such as zine making, collaborative print making, collaborative moving image work and collaborative performance.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You are supported by the provision of a studio space and access to the project spaces. Technical facilities are available, including the wood, construction and casting workshops, the print studio (including screen-printing, etching, lithography), the Mac lab and digital print (including industry standard digital imaging, moving image and audio software), analogue darkrooms (black and white and colour processing and print) and digital photographic studios. You have access to specialist materials in all workshop areas. Resource areas include our technical resource centre and university gallery. You have twenty-four-hour access to the university library.

Your learning will be supported by subject specialist academics and by expert technicians. Academic support is provided within the group sessions, which will be constructed so as to support both your art-making and written reflection. We provide you with on-going formative feedback through the teaching you receive. Technicians run the demonstrations feeding in their own technical expertise and knowledge.

Your learning is clearly mapped out to you on the module page on the University’s eLearning portal. This includes your assessment brief, guidance notes and key dates for the semester to help you organise and plan your time. Other teaching materials, notices and guidance are made available to you through the eLP. This is accessible to you on campus or externally through the Internet. You will have a University email that we contact you through. All timetabling is through the online university timetabling system. Reps represent you in regular meetings with the Programme Leader.

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. Demonstrate an understanding of how worldbuilding has been used as a strategy within contemporary art.

2. To produce a range of artworks that explore worldbuilding as a critical practice.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

3. Evidence creativity and experimentation in the production and presentation of art works.

4. Demonstrate involvement in collaborative and collective ways of working

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

5. Demonstrate an appreciation of cultural difference (race/sexuality/gender/class) as integral to understanding critical worldbuilding projects.

How will I be assessed?

Summative Assessment:
1. Presentation: a presentation of artwork/s produced during the module that address the Learning Outcomes. There will be opportunity for this presentation to be event-based and involve collaborative/collective working as well as exhibition. (70%)

2. Reflection: an 800-word reflective text on the artwork you have produced, also contextualising it in relation to worldbuilding within contemporary art. The text may involve creative modes of writing, in keeping with the nature of the artwork/s presentation. (30%)

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 Assessment:
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: the components test all MLOs.





Module abstract

Traditionally, worldbuilding has been considered in relation to the creation of fantastical worlds within written fiction. However, there is an increasing understanding and acknowledgement of how worldbuilding also exists within contemporary art making. Worldbuilding in this context can also involve the creation of fantastical worlds as artworks in themselves, or as situations to generate artworks. However, this module will consider worldbuilding in a more expanded sense. In particular, we will think together how a critical worldbuilding art practice might allow us to question the world we are often told we inhabit and imagine alternatives.

The module is built around the current research undertaken by academic staff, who will be teaching into the module. This will allow for a dynamic environment in which we will all learn together. In particular, staff outputs in terms of collaborative art-making, game-play and model-making, experimental writing and performance, will all be used as live examples key to the learning experience.

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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