Undergraduate Course: Design and Material Culture (DESI10063)
|School||Edinburgh College of Art
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course explores the design of everyday things and spaces, unpacking the ways in the designed environment can both reveal and construct powerful social and cultural meanings and practices. Drawing on thematic case studies that relate to sites such as the home the course introduces key concepts, theories and methods used in the study of design and material culture. The course will be of relevance to students working across a range of disciplines, including sociology, geography and anthropology but will be of particular importance to those studying design and visual culture.
Our relationship with things is central to our lived experience: things both define us and shape our lives and likewise the things we make express our own beliefs about the world and have the potential to shape those of others.
This course explores the design of everyday things and spaces and is intended to equip you with an understanding of the ways in which objects and spaces are produced, used, consumed and mediated within social and cultural structures. This will be explored through a variety of thematic case studies based around sites such as the home and encompassing topics such as: gender and craft practice, class and concepts of taste, memory and home (land), and hygiene and architecture. The course focuses on methodological approaches that intersect material culture studies, design history and sociology as well as drawing on key theories and literature drawn from those disciplines which will enable you to apply relevant theoretical approaches to the study of everyday things and to develop a critical engagement with contemporary design practices.
Throughout the course you will be encouraged to analyse the ways in which objects are produced, used, consumed and mediated within social and cultural structures as well as reflect on how contemporary design practice might engage with the ideas and themes explored in the course. You will also be invited to apply some of the methods of enquiry employed in the study of design and material culture to the study of a topic of your own choosing.
The course is delivered through weekly lectures and seminars as well as some visits. Each week you will be required to undertake research activities and prepare work, as part of their directed learning hours, for presentation or discussion in seminar and in preparation for the summative submissions.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1)
|Course Start Date
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 8,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 8,
External Visit Hours 2,
Formative Assessment Hours 2,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
Students will be required to submit one formative assessment task in week 6. This will consist of a 500-word essay proposal and indicative bibliography.
There is one summative assessment task: Students will be required to submit a 3000-word essay, including a bibliography, exploring a topic of their own choosing in relation to one of the course themes. This will be submitted in week 11. The submission counts for 100% of the final mark.
Relationship between Assessment and Learning Outcomes:
The summative assessment task is designed to align directly with the learning outcomes. The submission will be assessed against all 3 learning outcomes and all the learning outcomes are equally weighted.
||Formative: Students will receive written feedback on their proposal via Learn. This will be within 15 working days of submission.
Summative: Students will receive written feedback on their essay via Learn. This will be within 15 working days of submission. Note that summative grades remain indicative until approved by the relevant exam board.
Written feedback will provide guidance on areas of strength and improvement in relation to the Learning Outcomes.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Employ appropriate research methods and scholarly sources to an in-depth investigation of a self-directed topic appropriate to the themes of the course.
- Demonstrate a contextual knowledge and critical understanding of at least one of the key theories relating to the study of design and material culture and the complex issues that arise out it through the analysis of a self-directed topic.
- Communicate the written analysis in a synthesized, structured and coherent way, using images to illustrate and develop the argument.
|Appadurai, A. ed. (1986) The Social Life of Things. Commodities in Cultural Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press|
Buchli, V. (2002) The Material Culture Reader. Berg Publishers. Oxford.
Cieraad, I. ed. (1990) An Anthropology of Domestic Space. Syracuse, NY, Syracuse University Press.
Cohen, D. (2006) Household Gods: The British and their Possessions. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press
Csikszentmihalyi, M. & Halton, E. (2003) Home interview questionnaire, with coding categories and definitions. In: Pearce, S. ed. Interpreting Objects and Collections. London: Routledge. Available online @
Ingold, Tim. 'Making Culture and Weaving the World'. In Matter, Materiality and Modern Culture, ed. Graves-Brown, P. M. London and New York: Routledge, 2000.
Miller, D. (2001) Home Possessions. Material Culture Behind Closer Doors. Oxford, Berg
Miller, D. ed. (2005) Materiality. London: Duke University Press
Woodward, I. (2007) Understanding Material Culture. London: Sage [electronic book available through the library catalogue]
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||To exercise autonomy and initiative in the development of research projects;
To be able to be able to identify and apply processes and strategies for learning;
To be able to search for, evaluate and use information to develop knowledge and understanding;
To be intellectually curious and able to sustain intellectual interest;
To communicate ideas effectively and in ways that respond to specific briefs.
|Keywords||design,theory,culture,identity,material culture,design history
|Course organiser||Ms Emma Gieben-Gamal
Tel: (0131 6)51 5721
|Course secretary||Ms Jane Thomson
Tel: (0131 6)51 5713