Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)

Module VISU1011: Art and Film Writing in Context

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Visual)

VISU1011: Art and Film Writing in Context

Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap 42 Location Durham


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The module aims to acquaint students with the numerous forms and venues in which people write about art and film, and to equip them with the understanding and skills required to be effective communicators who are able to write in a knowledgeable and medium-appropriate way for a variety of audiences who may be accessing art writing online, through digital and print media, and by visiting exhibitions in person.


  • The module will introduce students to the identification and analysis of the various audiences – each of which comes with a particular set of skills and needs – that need to be addressed through different media and types of writing.
  • Using examples from museum and gallery websites (including commercial galleries), blogs, on-line and print art magazines, review sections from newspapers and general-interest magazines, exhibition catalogues, promotional material, museum/gallery panels and object captions, the module will identify the particular requirements and features of a wide variety of writing styles, and develop students’ ability to deploy these – in conjunction with images – in an effective and appropriate way.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On completion of this module students should:
  • Understand the many different publication outlets (in the broadest sense) through which art and film writing is disseminated.
  • Understand the different audiences and readerships to which different kinds of publication are directed, and the specific skills and needs that each kind of audience brings to their engagement with art and film writing.
  • Have theoretical and practical/ experiential knowledge of the considerations involved in writing appropriately and effectively for a wide variety of media, including of the relationship between image and text.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On completion of this module students will have developed:
  • The ability to identify the target audience for different forms of art writing.
  • On the basis of the above, to grasp the considerations that need to be factored in when writing for such audiences.
  • In light of the above, the ability to write effectively for a variety of media aimed at a variety of audiences.
  • To design a range of specimen publications that combine image and text in an effective and appropriate way.
Key Skills:
  • On completion of this module students will have developed:
  • independent research
  • organisation
  • time management
  • presentation
  • IT skills

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

  • Teaching is by means of a weekly interactive seminar, allowing students to develop skills in presentation and verbal argument, as well as to develop the analytic skills required in the summative assessment.
  • Assessment itself reflects the diversity of art writing in practice, and consequently allows students significant leeway to develop the structure of their portfolio. The expectation is that the portfolio will include texts of different kinds and different lengths, aimed at different audiences and presented in different media.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminar 15 Weekly 1.5 hours 30
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Portfolio Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Three pieces of art-writing of different lengths, in three different media of the student’s choice. 3000 words in total, the length of each piece to be determined by the student with due respect for the requirements of the medium. 100%
Component: Critical Commentary Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
A critical commentary on the art writing, explaining the research that informed the production and presentation of each text. 1000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Seminar presentations, on which feedback will be given by the course leader as well as by students.

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