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2024/25 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PECI5216M Arts and Activism

30 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Alice Borchi

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module explores the relationship between arts, activism and politics from the cultural practitioner’s perspective. We will explore the main theories on the relationship between arts and politics and why they are relevant for artistic and cultural work. By finding connections between global activist movements and the artistic sphere, students will have the opportunity to learn about how politics and social issues shape the cultural landscape and to reflect on their own position as future arts professionals


This module is aimed at future cultural practitioners and arts professionals who want to gain a deeper understanding of the intersection between arts and activism. This module analyses how global concerns, such as climate change, civil rights and workers’ rights, are deeply connected to the arts world. This module encourages students to think about how culture and the arts are an arena for debate of political and social values, and how they provide a unique medium to communicate important messages and encourage people to action; understanding these connections is important for every cultural practitioner who aims to carry our socially engaged and politically relevant work. This module explores the political and social value of the arts by analysing issues that characterise the contemporary discourse on arts and politics.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following learning outcomes relevant to the subject:
1. Understand key theories on the political and social value of the arts.
2. Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the relationship between arts, affect, activism and politics.
3. Make connections between global activist movements and the artistic sphere.
4. Understand different ways of positioning oneself in the current socio-political landscape as an informed and attentive cultural practitioner.
5. Identify relevant examples of artistic activism and carry out independent research on them.

Skills Learning Outcomes:
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following skills learning outcomes:

6. Communication: ability to communicate complex ideas in written form.
7. Communication: ability to communicate ideas in a succinct and creative way.
8. Critical thinking: being able to evaluate sources and use them to analyse complex situations and create critical arguments.
9. Systems thinking: being able to identify and analyse the relationship between different aspects of complex issues.


The module will introduce key theoretical concepts in politics and activism, from Plato to Judith Butler, and apply them to a wide range of case studies with a strong focus on the contemporary issues that affect the work of artists and cultural practitioners. At the core of the module there will be an analysis of artists’ rights and their relationship to broader political issues, such as in the case of censorship, representation and participation of different social groups and artists’ right to work. ‘Arts and activism’ will also explore different ways in which people express their dissent, both online and in real life, and how these protests are connected with global issues, such as environmentalism and global warming. The module will also analyse the concept of commodification, applied both to street art and the evolution of Pride. Lastly, in order to apply their knowledge to a real-life case study, the students will visit a socially engaged cultural organisation.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours277.75
Total Contact hours22.25
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The first assignment will be a 1500 words equivalent poster presentation that will take place in week 6. On that occasion, students will have the opportunity to receive formal feedback on their work and to identify areas to improve. Before the submission deadline of the second assignment, a 4000 words essay, the students will have individual tutorials where they will be able to receive feedback on their essay topic.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,500-4,000 word65.00
Poster PresentationPoster Presentation35.00
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: 31/01/2024


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