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Arts for Social Change


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: to be confirmed
  • Assessment: a 20-minute project presentation (40%) and coursework of 3000 words (60%)

Module description

In this module we explore the multiple ways in which socially engaged arts function as a locus of social gathering, identity formation and political change. We focus on UK arts practices but also show how they embrace questions, histories and contexts from across the world. We will consider definitions of socially engaged arts and activism in relation to:

  • individual and group identity (e.g. gender, ethnic, national)
  • social issues (e.g. cultural marginalisation, climate, conflict, health and wellbeing)

and bring these concepts into dialogue with a range of arts methodologies and practices, including:

  • theatre
  • digital media
  • documentary
  • literature
  • music
  • visual culture
  • festivals.

One of the key elements of our exploration will be the intersection of the arts with everyday life - aesthetically, experientially and politically.

We teach the module through a weekly three-hour class involving group work, research tasks, discussion of readings, screenings and performances, and independent practice, culminating in the development of a socially engaged group project.

Indicative syllabus

  • Socially engaged arts and activism: practices and politics
  • Art at the margins and centre
  • Documentary art across borders
  • The Arts of Nation
  • Socially engaged art analysis
  • Socially engaged project preparation and presentation
  • Assessment skills and preparation

      Learning objectives

      By the end of this module, you will be able to:

      • demonstrate knowledge of the ideas and practices underpinning socially engaged arts
      • understand the relationship between socially engaged arts and activism in contemporary culture and historically
      • analyse and document your own work and that of others
      • engage in socially engaged project-making.