UCL Centre for languages & international education (CLIE)


London Style: Visual Culture/ Counter-Culture

Key Information

Module code
Taught during
Session 2
Module leader
Dr Sue Walker
None. Standard UCL Summer entry criteria apply.
Assessment method
Coursework (30%), Working process toward coursework (35%), 1,500-2,000 word essay (35%)
Download syllabus (PDF)
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Module overview

This module will demonstrate that present day icons of “London Style” from fashion, film and music are indebted to narratives of counter-culture, comedy, satire and dandyism, from Shakespeare to Punk. It aims to link our current terms of reference to complex social, political and conceptual histories.

It will consider Shakespeare’s comedies; the cultures of the English Revolution and Restoration; the satire of Hogarth, Gillray and Rowlandson; and the radicalism of Thomas Paine, William Blake and Lord Byron. Representations of underworlds in the 19th century novel and the persistence of satirical and Dickensian influences in Punk will be themes of the later part of the module. It will conclude by identifying the presence of older “anti-establishment” narratives in the work of contemporary British artists Grayson Perry and Jeremy Deller and the fashion design of Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. The importance of street art in the contemporary British art scene will also be linked to the module content. In addition to signposting the rich histories that underlie contemporary perceptions of “London Style,” the module will encourage students to use archives and museums to independently produce their own creative work.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Have critically engaged with an historical and theoretical narrative which examines anti-establishment trends in London’s visual culture and their relationship to elite art forms and commerce
  • Have gained first-hand knowledge of London art collections and archives holding a range of materials including painting, prints and costumes
  • Have developed an interdisciplinary approach to the module material which will encompass cultural studies including histories of theatre, art and literature, creative practice, history, politics, and museum studies
  • Have experienced the range of resources available at UCL for research and creative practice
  • Have mapped the development of their own creative work, from inspiration through academic research and experimentation with different media, to the final presentation of a complete piece of self directed work.

Module prerequisites

This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). No prior subject knowledge is required to study this module but students are expected to have a keen interest in the subject area.

Module hours

Classes (usually three or four hours per day) take place on the Bloomsbury campus from Monday to Friday any time between 9am and 6pm.


  • A tangible piece of coursework (30%)
  • Working process and development of the creative work (35%)
  • 1,500 - 2,000 word essay (35%)

Module leader

Dr Sue Walker’s MA studies and PhD in Art History, from UCL, focused on French and British art in the aftermath of the French Revolution. She has a background in teaching in Further Education and Public Engagement workshops, as well as extensive experience researching and teaching from London Collections. Today, she combines her own art practice and engagement with contemporary artists’ projects, with teaching two second year undergraduate courses in UCL’s Art History Department: London and Paris 1700 - 1850, and (Re)viewing Romanticism.

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