BAEcon Development Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Visualising Society & Social Life: Photography in focus

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOCY30521
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

Sociologists are interested in the visual both as the subject of research and the means or method of enquiry. These twin interests are the focus of this course: it explores different sociological aspects of photos and our relationship to them before examining a range of photographic methods and how these can be used to address sociological questions.

 

The course starts by introducing the necessary context for understanding visual sources and methods. This includes an introduction to key concepts (such as vision, visuality, visual culture) and debates about the importance of the visual in western culture and, more specifically, social inquiry. It then looks at the historical development of photography and some of the ways it features in contemporary life, for example, in relation to identity and memory. Following this, it examines debates about the evidential status of photographs and how the photographic image can be conceptualised. Ways of working with images are explored, also the sociological significance of understanding photographic practices. Ethical issues around taking, using and reading photos are valuable lenses through which to understand social concerns and are essential to evaluating and designing photographic research. These ethical issues are considered before looking in detail at how students can undertake research using photos, including: interpreting ‘found’ photographs, using photo-elicitation, generating photographic data. Students design, pilot and evaluate a small photo project (piloted on fellow pupils only); this work will inform the assessed assignment for this module

Aims

 

The course unit aims to:

  1. Introduce students to the necessary context for understanding visual sources and methods.
  2. Encourage students to reflect upon some of the ways that photos feature in social life, and how and why photos are meaningful,
  3. Introduce students to debates about how photographs can be conceptualised and their evidential status.
  4. Inform students of the ethical and political issues relating to photography, including in research contexts.
  5. Encourage students to explore how photographs and photography can be used productively in (ethical) sociological enquiry

Equip students to design and undertake a small photo project.

Learning outcomes

1. Understand key concepts used in visual studies and debates about the importance of the visual in western culture and, more specifically, social

inquiry.

2. Explain how and why photos are meaningful in western social life.

3. Outline approaches to the conceptualisation of photography and its evidential status.

4. Identify ethical issues relating to working with photos and photography.

5. Reflect critically on the value of using photographic research methods.

6. Design a small photographic project to address a sociological research question and pilot it on other students on the course.

Syllabus

 

Sociologists are interested in the visual both as the subject of research and the means or method of enquiry. These twin interests are the focus of this course: it explores different sociological aspects of photos and our relationship to them before examining a range of photographic methods and how these can be used to address sociological questions.

 

The course starts by introducing the necessary context for understanding visual sources and methods. This includes an introduction to key concepts (such as vision, visuality, visual culture) and debates about the importance of the visual in western culture and, more specifically, social inquiry. It then looks at the historical development of photography and some of the ways it features in contemporary life, for example, in relation to identity and memory. Following this, it examines debates about the evidential status of photographs and how the photographic image can be conceptualised. Ways of working with images are explored, also the sociological significance of understanding photographic practices. Ethical issues around taking, using and reading photos are valuable lenses through which to understand social concerns and are essential to evaluating and designing photographic research. These ethical issues are considered before looking in detail at how students can undertake research using photos, including: interpreting ‘found’ photographs, using photo-elicitation, generating photographic data. Other photo-methods are incorporated depending on students’ interests. Students design, pilot and evaluate a small photo project (piloted on fellow pupils only); this work will inform the assessed assignment for this module

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly 3 hour lecture/workshop. Workshops will include a mix of lecture, group discussion and tasks. The course will utilise Blackboard in delivering the module’s course content, core readings, lecture slides, supplementary material including films, and communication.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

Feedback methods

 

Assessed essay

Students design, pilot and evaluate a small photo project (piloted on fellow pupils only); this work informs the assessed assignment for this module - Written feedback plus meetings available in ‘feedback half day’

Unseen exam - summative feedback

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Practical classes & workshops 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Penny Tinkler Unit coordinator

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