Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)

Module HIST44430: History, Knowledge and Visual Culture.

Department: History

HIST44430: History, Knowledge and Visual Culture.

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To enable students to gain an advanced understanding of the role of visual culture in historical practice, focusing on the theme of ‘knowledge’, its acquisition, display and dissemination, and on examples from Western cultures from 1600 onwards.


  • This module introduces students to the leading themes, concepts, topics and approaches that concern the central roles of visual images in the production of authoritative knowledge including: maps; scientific and medical illustration; the history of books and other forms of communication; author portraits, medals and memorials; documentary photography and film; museums; personification and allegory, and the fields that have specialized in them. Students will be able to focus on one or more of these topics in their coursework, and will be expected to engage with the full range through oral presentations and discussion.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Advanced understanding of approaches to the intertwined histories of knowledge and of visual culture in early modern and modern Western settings.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/PGModuleProformaMap/
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/PGModuleProformaMap/

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Student learning is facilitated by a range of teaching methods. Seminars and Group Discussion require students to reflect on and discuss: their prior knowledge and experience; a range of secondary and primary sources; information provided during the session. They provide a forum in which to assess and comment critically on the findings of others and their own insights, to defend their conclusions through reasoned argument, and advance their knowledge and understanding of visual culture and the history of knowledge from 1600. Structured reading and looking require students to focus on materials that are integral to the themes and approaches of the module. They specifically enable the acquisition of detailed knowledge and skills, which will be discussed in other areas of teaching and learning experience. Visits, including to museums and to Palace Green library are an integral part of the module and students will be expected to make at least one class presentation during such a visit. Assessment is by means of a 5000 word essay, which requires the acquisition and application of advanced knowledge and understanding of an aspect of the module. Essays require a sustained and coherent argument in defence of a hypothesis, and must be presented in a clearly written and structured form, with supporting visual materials as part of their apparatus.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 8 weekly 2 16
Field trips 2
Structured reading and essay preparation 280

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5000 100%

Formative Assessment:

One or more short assignments delivered orally and discussed in a group context.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University