Module UXS-1066:
Visual Cultures

Module Facts

Run by School of Music and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Gregory Frame

Overall aims and purpose

This module will explore the politics, aesthetics and institutional dynamics of a variety of media forms. It will engage with substantive intellectual debates about medium specificity, the political and social function of broadcast journalism, and the impact of digitalisation on audiovisual media. This module equips students with the knowledge and understanding of the key scholarly debates about the past, present and future of media forms, addressing them from historical, political, theoretical and institutional perspectives.

Course content

Topics might include discourses of legitimation in popular television, debates about race, class and gender in television drama, the social and political functions of audiovisual journalism, debates about medium specificity in the digital age.

Assessment Criteria


D Grade

Submitted work is adequate and shows an acceptable level of competence as follows:

  • Generally accurate but with omissions and errors
  • Assertions are made without clear supporting evidence or reasoning
  • Has structure but is lacking in clarity and therefore relies on the reader to make links and assumptions
  • Draws on a relatively narrow range of material


B grade

Submitted work is competent throughout and distinguished by superior style, approach and choice of supporting materials. It demonstrates:

  • Very good structure and logically developed arguments
  • Draws on material that has been sourced and assessed as a result of independent study, or in a way unique to the student
  • Assertions are backed by evidence and sound reasoning
  • Accuracy and presentation in an appropriate academic style


A grade

Submitted work is of an outstanding quality and excellent in one or more of the following ways:

  • Has originality of exposition with the student’s own thinking being readily apparent
  • Provides clear evidence of extensive and relevant independent study
  • Arguments are laid down with clarity and provide the reader with successive stages of consideration to reach conclusions

C- to C+

C Grade

Submitted work is competent throughout and occasionally distinguished by superior style, approach and choice of supporting materials. It demonstrates:

  • Good structure and logically developed arguments
  • At least in parts draws on material that has been sourced and assessed as a result of independent study, or in a way unique to the student
  • Assertions are, in the main, backed by evidence and reasoning
  • Accuracy and presentation in an appropriate academic style

Learning outcomes

  1. You will be able to engage in debate (both orally and in writing) about substantial issues within visual culture around medium specificity and digitalisation.

  2. You will understand different forms of visual culture in terms of their historical, social, political and institutional specificity.

  3. You will be able to explain key theoretical concepts that can be applied to the study of visual culture.

  4. You will be able to conduct close textual analysis of different media forms in accordance with your understanding of critical and theoretical models.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Final essay 60
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT Annotated bibliography 40

Teaching and Learning Strategy


1-hour group discussion x 11 weeks


2-hour screening of selected episodes of television programmes studied x 11 weeks

Private study 156

Essay support in Week 12 prior to final assessment.


1-hour formal lecture x 11 weeks


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Artistic engagement and ability to articulate complex ideas in oral and written forms. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Awareness of how different social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning (English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • The ability to synthesize information from various sources, choosing and applying appropriate concepts and methods (English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Ability to formulate and solve problems, anticipate and accommodate change, and work within contexts of ambiguity, uncertainty and unfamiliarity (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Ability to engage in processes of drafting and redrafting texts to achieve clarity of expression and an appropriate style. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3; NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Information technology (IT) skills broadly understood and the ability to access, work with and evaluate electronic resources (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).


Resource implications for students

As it is currently planned the students should not need to purchase any additional materials for this module.

Reading list

Robert C. Allen and Annette Hill, eds. (2004) The Television Studies Reader, London: Routledge.

Charlotte Brunsdon (1990) ‘Problems with quality’, Screen 31:1, pp. 67-90.

Andreas Halskov (2015) TV Peaks: Twin Peaks and modern television drama, Odense: University Press of Southern Denmark.

Marisa C. Hayes and Franck Boulegue, eds. (2013) Twin Peaks, Bristol: Intellect.

Janet McCabe and Kim Akass, eds. (2007) Quality TV: Contemporary American Television and Beyond, London: I.B. Tauris.

Robert J. Thompson (1997) Television’s Second Golden Age: From Hill Street Blues to ER, Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.

Linda Williams (2014) On the Wire, Durham: Duke University Press.

Liam Kennedy and Steven Shapiro, eds. (2012) The Wire: Race, Class and Genre, Detroit: University of Michigan Press.

Tiffany Potter and C.W. Marshall (2009) The Wire: Urban Decay and American Television, New York: Continuum.

Gary R. Edgerton (2013) The Sopranos, Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

Marco Mario Albrecht (2015) Masculinity in Contemporary Quality Television, Farnham: Ashgate, 2015.

Scott F. Stoddart (2011) Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the Television Series, Jefferson: McFarland and Co.

Christopher Bigsby (2013) Viewing America: Twenty-First Century Television Drama, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gary R. Edgerton and Jeffrey P. Jones (2008) The Essential HBO Reader, Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.

Megan Mullen (2003) The Rise of Cable Programming in the United States: Revolution or Evolution?, Austin: University of Texas Press.

Kevin McDonald and Daniel Smith-Rowsey (2016) The Netflix Effect: Technology and Entertainment in the 21st Century, New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Keith Beattie (2004) Documentary Screens: Non-Fiction Film and Television, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Geoffrey Cox (1995) Pioneering Television News: A first hand report on a revolution in journalism, London: John Libbey.

John Langer (1998) Tabloid Television: Popular television and the "other news", London: Routledge.

Stella Bruzzi (2000) New Documentary: A critical introduction, London: Routledge.

Ann Gray and Erin Bell (2013) History on Television, London: Routledge.

Jason Jacobs and Steven Peacock (eds.) (2013) Television Aesthetics and Style, New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: