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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

COMM2125 Visual Communication

20 creditsClass Size: 196

Module manager: Marcia Allison

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is not approved as a discovery module


This module is designed to develop your visual literacy and enable you to read key visual texts, deploying a range of historical, critical and contextual approaches. Over the course of this semester we will look at some dominant visual cultural forms such as photography, cinema, television and websites, developing the ways in which we try to understand these key modes of communication.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module you should be able to:
1. Demonstrate familiarity with the academic literature on visual communications by explaining a range of key theories, arguments and concepts.
2. Apply analytic techniques and theoretical concepts to the analysis of visual texts
3. Evaluate a range of analytical techniques employed in the interpretation of visual texts.
4. Explain how imagery can be deployed as a persuasive tool in a range of national and cultural contexts and discuss the political and ethical issues this raises.
5. Devise an original research question in visual communication and conduct a research project to investigate it.

Skills outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:

- Identify key theories, arguments and concepts related to visual culture and communication
- Apply textual analysis tools to image-based media texts
- Develop and explore original research questions around visual culture and communication


By what means do visual media texts encourage us to look, to stare, to glance, to gaze? There are many words to describe the varied ‘ways of seeing’ the mediated world around us, each conveying a different level of attention and engagement. This module explores the role of visual culture in communication, insisting that the non-verbal ‘speaks’, at times very powerfully. It reviews how communication and cultural theory has addressed the proverb ‘a picture’s worth a thousand words’ through a consideration of analytical tools, arguments asserting the significance of such analyses and critiques of approaches to decoding visual meaning. The concepts of framing, narrative, genre and semiotics will offer tools that can be used to unpack the deeper meanings of visual communication, challenging the presumed truth and innocence of symbols, from photographs to fonts. Visual analyses are particularly important in the face of ever-increasing circulation of images that define contemporary culture. At the same time, it is necessary to recognise the limitations of deep ‘readings’ of visuals and the gap between academic analysis and audience experience.
Lectures will cover topics such as how visuals work to persuade and ‘move’ us; how protesters use ‘image politics’ to resist the dominant political culture; how the truth values of photography are increasingly debated in the digital age; and how we craft our own identities through publicly available profile images.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours2.00
Private study hours168.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students are required to complete reading responses each week (8 hours per week for reading and preparation of responses (80 hours total).
For each of the 10 seminars, additional preparation is required for contribution to relevant tasks and activities (20 hours over the semester).
The remaining private study time should be dedicated to researching, preparing and writing the research essay.
I have provided 4 online tutorials on the research essay which students should watch in their own time and take notes, in order to prepare for planning and writing their research essay.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Formative exercises: written reading responses and participation in activities at seminars, including group and individual analyses of visual texts. Students will receive ongoing formative feedback on the individual tasks via the VLE and in seminars.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 3,000 - 3,500 words70.00
PortfolioCollected reading responses: 4 x 400-500 words30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

If the portfolio is failed it can be improved and resubmitted. Non-submissions should follow the same guidance above and in the handbook and submit 4 collated responses. For research essays, failed essays can be improved, or a new question devised if advised by the module leader. For non-submissions, please follow the essay guidance in the module handbook

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 04/06/2024 10:40:41


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