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2020/21 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

ARTF5059M Critical Approaches to Photography

30 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr Maki Fukuoka

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Photographic images saturate every corner of contemporary society in a developed country to such an extent that it is difficult to spend a day without seeing a photographic image. Yet, the popular concepts in discussions of photography remain overused and unexamined at best ('truth,' 'reflection,' 'index'). By engaging with historical and cultural treatises about the medium and its property (how photography 'reflects' reality, how photographers 'see' differently, for instance) this module excavates the multiple layers of philosophical issues embedded in concepts such as 'truth,' 'reality,' and 'mediation' in thinking and writing about photographic images.


This module surveys the major theoretical concepts in the study of photographic images and their meanings. This module aims to achieve the following three goals: students will become familiar with major discursive concerns in thinking about photography, learn to ‘see’ abstract issues informing the works examined, and vice versa, and engage in critical discourse on photographic images in our own words by incorporating, extending, and challenging the ideas we learn in class.

Learning outcomes
Students should:
- Gain deeper understanding of key issues of photography to analyse photographic images from wide-ranging sources, including but not limited to art, popular culture, and anthropology.
- Understand how and to what extent ‘reading’ photographic images are informed by historical and cultural assumptions and practices.
- Gain set of analytical skills to see photographic images more critically and self-reflectively.

Skills outcomes
-Skilled visual and textual analysis
- Ability to construct a sustained and coherent argument
- Co-ordination and dissemination of a range of historical, contextual, and cultural information


Each week will cover a topic and the discursive debate surrounding it. They may include: the 'inventions,' social histories, modernism, imperialism, semiotics, gender, and digital. The course is structured in such a way that it creates an overall narrative that is vital in identifying and exploring problematic status of photographic images.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours270.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Written assignments (biweekly responses and final essay) will be commented on turnitin. Class presentation will have a guideline and be assessed in accordance with the criteria set in the guideline.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay5000-6000 word essay50.00
Written WorkReaders' responses (4 x 500 words)25.00
PresentationPresentation in class25.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Readers' responses submitted biweekly throughout the semester. All assessment components must be passed in order to pass the module overall.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 10/08/2020 08:33:46


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