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Material and Visual Culture - BA (Hons)

Why study this course?

The Material and Visual Culture BA is an innovative and interdisciplinary course that explores the objects, artefacts and images with which we surround ourselves and use to shape our identities, both cultural and personal. You’ll have access to traditional and modern facilities, work-related learning opportunities and visits to key museums and archives in London. Taught by The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design at London Met, this degree draws on the strengths of teaching staff from across the School and its wide circle of cultural contacts and collaborators.

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Our Material and Visual Culture BA undergraduate degree course combines the study, practice and curation of design, craft, art and applied arts. It is an innovative, inter-disciplinary course that explores the objects, artefacts and images with which we surround ourselves; helping to shape our cultural and personal identities.

This course provides new ways of thinking about how people and the things that make up their environment interact with and affect each other. Unlike most courses that study art or visual culture, this course does not privilege any one class or quality of artefact over another – any object from a painting or a dress, to a postcard, can reveal valuable insights into society and its cultures. The images shown here are a tiny sample of the possible objects of study, you will be able to study any objects, images or collections that hold your interest.

In addition, the course uniquely asks you to work with objects that you have made, or own, or have borrowed or identified in archives and collections, to reveal the different qualities or meanings that they may have. In this way you'll graduate knowing a great deal about our material and visual culture and how to interpret it as well as gaining real world skills in the use and practical application of this knowledge. The course also expands the traditional approach to the study of objects, so you will develop your curatorial and publishing skills and present your findings and ideas in innovative formats.

You'll present your findings and ideas in innovative formats. In the final year you'll work on an independent project, designing and managing your own research programme and presenting it in your choice of format, such as a book, film, website, installation or exhibition.

You’ll learn about the production, consumption and distribution of everyday objects, and explore the changing use of these objects, from their original owners through to collectors, cultural institutions. Objects studied will include souvenirs, record collections, clothing, magazines, domestic products, family photographs, buildings and interiors as well other familiar products of our society; you’ll study these artefacts and explore their forgotten or obscure histories. 

A unique strength of this course is that will show you the hidden depths of London: the marginalised histories in disused buildings, industrial sites and the collections of clubs and societies. We’ll provide you with access to archives including the Trades Union Congress Library, the East End Archive, the Frederick Parker Collection and the specialist libraries and catalogues of our partners such as the Livery Companies of the City of London.

London is a leading art and design centre, and there will be visits to key museums and galleries including the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Museum and less well-known collections like the Hunterian Museum and the Horniman Museum.

The Cass staff, visiting speakers, industry practitioners, curators and archivists will guide you throughout the course. Work-based learning opportunities will also help you develop experience in related sectors. A wide range of facilities are available at the Cass, including traditional technologies such as letterpress, ceramics, textiles, wood and metal. There are also modern design methods, such as digital design, 3D printing and photography, although no prior skills are required for practical work, which is entirely optional.


You will be assessed through a portfolio of written and illustrated work and practice.
There are no examinations.

In addition to the University's standard entry requirements, you should have:

  • a minimum grade C in three A levels or minimum grades BC from at least two A levels in relevant humanities, art and design subjects (or a minimum of 112 UCAS points from an equivalent Level 3 qualification, eg BTEC National, OCR Diploma or Advanced Diploma)
  • English Language GCSE at grade C (grade 4 from 2017) or above (or equivalent)

We encourage applications from international/EU students with equivalent qualifications.

We also accept mature students with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We are proud of the fact that many of our students are career changers, finding their calling later in life. Formal qualifications are not always necessary since life and work experience can be considered, and commitment and enthusiasm are key factors. In such cases, we ask for a CV and supporting letter.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

The modules listed below are for the academic year 2016/17 and represent the course modules at this time. Modules and module details (including, but not limited to, location and time) are subject to change over time.

Year 1 (Level 4) modules include:

  • Cultures of Production
  • Taste
  • Things
  • Practice: Interpretation (Object and Display)

Year 2 (Level 5) modules include:

  • Cultures of Consumption
  • History, Memory and Nostalgia
  • Images
  • Practice: Manipulation (Portfolio)

Year 3 (Level 6) modules include:

  • Dissertation
  • The Body, Perception and the Senses
  • Collections
  • Practice: Curation (Exhibition)

This course addresses the skills gap that employers are looking for in graduates, including leadership, planning and management with innovation, creativity and diagonal thinking (popular with advertising companies).

Many of our graduates apply for work in cultural institutions or commercial galleries or even become freelance curators. There are many employment and self-employment opportunities in art, design, culture journalism, publishing and media and education.

We also have students who go on to further study or research on courses such as our Curating the Contemporary MA and MA by Project.

Between 2016 and 2020 we're investing £125 million in the London Metropolitan University campus, moving all of our activity to our current Holloway campus in Islington, north London. This will mean the teaching location of some courses will change over time.

Whether you will be affected will depend on the duration of your course, when you start and your mode of study. The earliest moves affecting new students will be in September 2018. This may mean you begin your course at one location, but over the duration of the course you are relocated to one of our other campuses. Our intention is that no full-time student will change campus more than once during a course of typical duration.

All students will benefit from our move to one campus, which will allow us to develop state-of-the-art facilities, flexible teaching areas and stunning social spaces.

Please note, in addition to the tuition fee there may be additional costs for things like equipment, materials, printing, textbooks, trips or professional body fees.

Additionally, there may be other activities that are not formally part of your course and not required to complete your course, but which you may find helpful (for example, optional field trips). The costs of these are additional to your tuition fee and the fees set out above and will be notified when the activity is being arranged.

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How to apply

If you're a UK/EU applicant applying for full-time study you must apply via UCAS unless otherwise specified.

UK/EU applicants for part-time study should apply direct to the University.

Non-EU applicants for full-time study may choose to apply via UCAS or apply direct to the University. Non-EU applicants for part-time study should apply direct to the University, but please note that if you require a Tier 4 visa you are not able to study on a part-time basis.

When to apply

The University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) accepts applications for full-time courses starting in September from one year before the start of the course. Our UCAS institution code is L68.

If you will be applying direct to the University you are advised to apply as early as possible as we will only be able to consider your application if there are places available on the course.

Fees and key information

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