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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

DESN2465 Class, Taste and Society: Interpreting Designed Objects.

10 creditsClass Size: 36

Module manager: Dr Christine Atha

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The subject of Taste, and ‘good taste’ in particular, is fraught with difficulties. What can we learn from such notions as the ‘Bourgeoisie’ or ‘anti-elitism’ in relation to our understanding and reception of design and its objects today? The module examines aspects of taste from the 19th century to the present day in relation to: the development of a ‘cultural cognoscenti’; the issue of Philistinism; issues of aesthetic certainty; the significance of taste and democracy; the concepts of ‘the aesthetic citizen’ and a ‘discriminating public’.


The objectives of this module are to:
- introduce relevant historical, conceptual, critical and methodological tools for the analysis and discussion of designed objects
- provide an historical and theoretical overview of the cultures of taste and social histories of designed objects
- present a broad survey of taste, class and the consumption of designed objects

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will have provided evidence of being able to:
- appreciate the relationships between class, taste, society and designed objects
- produce a logically developed coherent analysis and interpretation of designed objects based on research in written and in verbal form
- appreciate and interpret designed objects within the cultural, economic, historical, political and social contexts

Skills outcomes
Analytical skills
Critical thinking
Research Skills
Social and Cultural Sensitivity
Use of Knowledge


The module aims to provide a basic introduction to the ways in which we can interpret Designed Objects and their relationships to class, society and taste conventions. This module also provides an overview of the methods and approaches available to write about them and curate them in meaningful ways.
The module will cover such notions of good taste and philistinism, origins of the Grand Tour and connoisseurship, the construction of a Good Taste society, personal identity and the meaning of things in everyday life and methods of curation, interpretation and display of designed objects.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours40.00
Private study hours41.00
Total Contact hours19.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Independent online learning is facilitated by a website resource of lecture slides and readings, which allows students to explore in more detail topics covered in the lectures, and gain familiarity with key concepts and ideas.

Private study includes: set reading, further reading, preparation of an essay assignment and a curatorial proposal. An essay of 1500-2,500 words is presented for summative assessment. A short curatorial proposal of 500 words is presented for summative assessment.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress is monitored through registers at lectures and seminar attendance.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1500- 2500 words75.00
Group ProjectCuratorial Proposal, 500 words25.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 03/05/2018


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