Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 x 2 hour lecture-workshops


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1 - 2,500 words  50%
Semester Assessment Essay 2 - 2,500 words  50%
Supplementary Assessment All failed or missing elements must be retaken or made good. Students will be required to complete different assignment questions to the ones originally submitted. 1 x 2,500 word essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Critically reflect upon the nature of active interpretation within the field of visual perception.

2. Apply theories of visual perception and visual culture to the reading and analysis of visual texts.

3. Critically evaluate the processes of mediation involved in the visual construction of reality, and articulate their own standpoint about such constructedness.


The change in level from MC1 to MC2 is in line with similar changes made to one other level 1 module within the Media and Communication Scheme, and also correlates with the re-grading of four modules from MC3 to MC2.

This module offers a comprehensive and exciting approach to visual culture, introducing students to new concepts, theories and methods for 'decoding' texts and images, whilst posing critical questions about the nature of sense-making and the constructedness of media content. It forms an integral component of Part 2 study within the Scheme, located in the 'communication' strand of the overall framework.

The requested change should be applied in time for provisional registration and fully implemented from September 2009-10. We do not wish to disrupt or compromise the available provision for our current cohort, so would like to 'roll-out' the structural changes gradually over the next 12 months.

Brief description

The main focus of this module is on how visual experience is mediated. 'Reality' is always a constructed representation. The materials used (such as visual illusions) may make the module seem seimilar to a 'visual literacy' course. It should appeal to students who are interested in how we interpret (and differ in interpreting) what we see in the world and in 'texts' (whatever the medium). Most people assume that visual perception, reading and watching TV involve relatively 'passive' processes of assimilation by the 'receiver'. Our study of the openness of visual texts to interpretation will challenge such assumptions. We will explore some of the processes of mediation involved when viewers and readers construct 'reality', 'the world', 'meaning' and 'information'. For students in the department, this theme obviously offers links with a viewer-oriented study of television and film.


Visual Perception 1 Searching for Patterns

Visual Perception 2 The Third Dimension

Visual Perception 3 Selectivity and Perceptual Constancy

Visual Perception 4 Cultural and Environmental Factors

Visual Perception 5 Individual Differences, Purposes and Needs

Visual Perception 6 Contexts and Expectations

Visual Perception 7 Gestalt Principles of Visual Organization

Visual Perception 8 The Moving Image

Key Concepts in Visual Semiotics (1) Signs, Signifiers and Signifieds

Key Concepts in Visual Semiotics (2) Codes

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number * Students will be given the opportunity to reflect upon basic statistical data (primarily presented in percentages), through encountering key research studies in the field.
Communication * Students' written communication skills will be developed (e.g. appropriate language and style, accuracy, precision and ability to be concise). * Opportunities will be given, through interactive lecture-workshop sessions, for students to develop confidence in using their speaking and listening skills when communicating their ideas.
Improving own Learning and Performance * Students will be able to develop their skills of information location and retrieval. * Students will be given opportunities to develop effective note-taking skills. * Students will develop their critical thinking skills. * Through group and whole class discussion students will be given opportunities to develop an awareness of the opinions of others and reconsider initial ideas if necessary.
Information Technology * Students will be given the opportunity to develop their authorial and note-taking skills when planning and preparing for the written assignments, and will be encouraged to develop their note-taking skills in lectures. * Students will be given opportunities to develop their skills using electronic search and retrieval of sources both on the web and on the AU LIS. * Students will develop their skills when referencing from the web and related sources, and will focus on the selection of materials appropriate to task. * E-mail and Blackboard will be the main forms of communication and information-sharing in this module, so students will be encouraged to actively engage in these processes.
Personal Development and Career planning * Students will be given the opportunity to evaluate current knowledge and skills and set targets for self-improvement, * Students will be encouraged to take increasing responsibility for managing their own learning. * Students will be encouraged to build upon the knowledge gained from lectures through developing skills in self study (supported by the general and specific reading lists and other resources distributed throughout the module).
Problem solving * Students should be able to identify tensions and debates in the field, and will be encouraged to critical reflect. * Students should gain experience in applying different approaches and materials to understand data and other patterns in research.
Research skills * Students will be able to develop their skills of information location and retrieval. * Students will be given opportunities to develop effective note-taking skills. * Students will be encouraged to evaluate, interpret and reflect upon a variety of sources, and to make links to accommodate new ideas.
Subject Specific Skills
Team work * Most sessions will involve group work where students will be able to collaborate through discussion.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Chandler, Daniel (2007) Semiotics: The Basics Routledge Primo search Coren, Stanley, Lawrence M. Ward & James T. Enns (2003) Sensation and Perception Harcourt Brace Primo search Gombrich, Ernst H. (1977) Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation Phaidon Primo search Gombrich, Ernst H. (1982) The Image and the Eye: Further Studies in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation Phaidon Primo search Gregory, Richard L. (1990) Eye and Brain: The Psychology of Seeing Oxford University Press Primo search Hoffman, Donald D. (1998) Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See W W Norton Primo search Kress, Gunther & Theo van Leeuwen (2006) Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design Routledge Primo search Lester, Paul Martin (2002) Visual Communication: Images with Messages Wadsworth Primo search Messaris, Paul (1994) Visual Literacy: Image, Mind & Reality Westview Press Primo search Nichols, Bill (1981) Ideology and the Image Indiana University Press Primo search Worth, Sol & Larry P. Gross (1981) Studying Visual Communication University of Pennsylvania Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5