Costume and Fashion - ARTS5030

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 5 30 (15) Benjamin Thomas checkmark-circle


The art historian Aby Warburg – an avid reader of Thomas Carlyle's philosophical novel about clothes Sartor Resartus (1836) – said that a good costume, like a good symbol, should conceal as much as it reveals. This module will take an interdisciplinary approach to the study of costume and fashion – the art that can be worn – in order to explore their roles in drama, film and the visual arts. The social values encoded by clothes, their relation to class or sexual identity, will be discussed, along with how these assumptions inform the use of costume in adaptations or stagings of texts, or how they colour our view of a character, or of a director’s interpretation (for example, using deliberate anachronism). The role of clothing and costume in the history of art will be analysed from artists’ representation of clothes, contemporary or otherwise, to their involvement in fashion design.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 50
Private study hours: 250
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
The module will be assessed 100% by coursework:
• Creative Portfolio (2000-4000 words) (40%)
• Critical Essay (2500 words) (40%)
• Fashion Show (20%)

Reassessment methods
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Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.
The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages:

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. demonstrate a broad knowledge of the history of costume and fashion, particularly in Europe from the Renaissance period to the present day.
2. demonstrate a familiarity with representative examples of costumes from different historical periods in collections such as the V&A, their material culture, and the purposes
for which they were made and contexts in which they were used.
3. analyse key examples of the representation of costume in art works, notably in portraits, and the connections between fine art and fashion design.
4. analyse key examples of the use of costume in stage productions, and their relation to stage design and to the interpretation of dramatic texts.
5. analyse key examples of the use of costume in films, for example in adaptations, or as a narrative device.
6. show a knowledge of a range of thinkers and critics who have studied costume and fashion (e.g. Carlyle, Baudelaire, Barthes etc) and to the work of a range of
representative fashion designers.
7. apply a knowledge of 1-6 above through examples of creative design appropriate to an I level practice-based module within the School of Arts (e.g. in the fashion show)

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. demonstrate a familiarity with the concept of cultural history, and in practice have a knowledge of the underlying concepts and principles associated with cultural history,
evaluating and interpreting these in the context of the area of study (costume and fashion).
2. to present, evaluate and interpret cultural historical data, developing lines of argument (in interdisciplinary ways, in this context, to make connections between different art
forms and broader cultural phenomena), and making sound judgments and critical evaluations in line with basic theories introduced in this module.
3. to communicate the results of study accurately and reliably, with structured and coherent arguments.
4. develop study skills in order to research and present their work, including appropriate Information Technologies.
5. develop qualities of personal responsibility in completing assessment tasks to deadline, working in a self-motivated manner, thereby enhancing transferable skills
necessary for employment.


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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