Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2 hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 4,000 word learning log  50%
Semester Assessment 1 x 4,000 word essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment Resit opportunities for this module will be available in the Supplementary examination period each year. Masters students are required to resit those elements of the module that they have not already passed.   100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Analyse in detail changing images of the face and associated concepts of the human
2. Demonstrate a critical yet receptive analytical approach to work on the human face from neuroscience, philosophy, the visual arts and politics and an ability to work in an interdisciplinary manner
3. Address and reflect on questions concerning aspects of the human face and their relation to political possibilities
4. Discuss and analyse the impact of studies of the face on concepts of identity, subjectivity and personhood.

Brief description

The module examines work on the human face in the visual arts, neuroscience and philosophy in relation to contemporary postcolonial international politics. It will enable students to reflect in novel and interdisciplinary ways on the concepts of identity, subjectivity, personhood and the human that are central to politics.

The module begins with an examination of the way in which the rise of portraiture in Europe was paralleled by the emergence of the autonomous individual Western subject of politics and economics. It then proceeds to explore topics in more depth.
In concluding, we examine what the persistence of the importance of the face and the im/possibility of unmasking says about identity, otherness and political possibilities.


1. Introduction: Portrayals of the face / politics of the human
2. The still face in portraits and photographs
3. Face recognition and identity control
4. The distorted face and facelessness
5. Reconstructing or replacing the face
6. The moving face and expression of emotion
7. Empathy and mirroring the face
8. The concealed face and veiling
9. Unmasking the face?
10. Conclusion: Political implications

Topics explored in more depth
(1) what the still image of the face in photographs and portraits call tell us about notions of the political human, including how such images are used, for example in ID cards, passports and automatic face recognition technologies, or in protesting the disappeared;
(2) what happens when faces are damaged or destroyed, for example in digital or painted distortions of the face, and when attempts at restoring the face, in face transplants, for example, are made and what this tells us about shifting notions of the subject;
(3) how the moving face expresses emotion, what happens, for example with people who are unable to move their facial muscles, and how at a pre-individual level we `mirror¿ the facial expressions of others, and what this implies for politics;
(4) practices of concealing the face by masking or veiling in various European and other cultures, and whether there is indeed any possibility of unmasking the face.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to assert themselves to advantage. They will understand the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to the best advantage. They will learn to be clear and direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Seminars will be run in groups where oral discussion will form the main medium of teaching and the emphasis throughout the module will be on student participation and communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the convenor and the fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and to exercise their own initiative, including searching for sources, compiling reading lists, and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their essay and presentation topics. The need to write a regular learning log and to meet an essay deadline will focus students¿ attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well. The learning log is assessed.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources (such as BIDS and OCLC).
Personal Development and Career planning The discussions in particular will help to develop students¿ verbal and presentation skills. Learning about the process of planning an essay and a presentation, framing the parameters of the projects, honing and developing the projects and seeing through to completion will contribute towards their portfolio of transferable skills
Problem solving Independent reflection and critical problematisation will be one of the central goals of the module; the submission of one essay will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem formulating and solving skills. The need to research and prepare seminar presentations will also enable the student to develop independent project skills. The ability of students to analyse problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to adopt differing points of view, reason logically, construct theoretical models, consider similar cases, look for patterns, and divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills The submission of one essay will reflect the independent research skills of the student, as will preparation for seminars. The need to locate appropriate research resources and write up the results in the learning log will also facilitate research skills.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: * Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module; * Ability to evaluate competing perspectives; * Demonstrate subject specific research techniques; * Apply a range of methodologies to complex political problems.
Team work Seminars will consist in part of small-group discussion where students will be obliged to discuss as a group the core issues related to seminar topics. Such classroom debates and discussions are a vital component of the module.


This module is at CQFW Level 7