Undergraduate Degree




DD0001 Ethical Issues in Art, Design and Media

[Studio Contact Hours: 39 hours; Pre-requisites:Nil; Academic Unit: 3.0]




Academic Unit


3 AU

Course Description


Learning Objective

The student will learn that creativity has an ethical dimension, that art and the making of art has consequences of a social, political and personal nature. The students will learn that the art and design industry can be as subject to practices as any other industry.


The art and design industry, like any other industry, involves considerations of an ethical dimension. Some of these might seem straightforward, such as the need to protect creative ownership of a creative work by the use of copyright protection laws. It was an artist (William Hogarth) who first established the principle that visual material receives legal protection, however this same principle has, arguably, been used by creative industries to stifle creativity and competition. There is even an environmental aspect to something as seemingly innocuous as the shooting of a film. During the making of the film ‘The Beach’, environmentalists argued that the makers of the film did irreparable harm to Thailand’s Phi Phi Island national park when they re-modeled it to conform to their expectations of what a tropical beach should look like. There are also the many ethical considerations that are associated with visual representation: how are peoples from different cultures variously portrayed in art and what does it tell us about those who make this art? These, and other related topics, will be covered by this course. It will consist of lectures and discussions and is designed to introduce the student to this complex but important subject.

Course Outline




• Introduction to the course


• The ethics of representation


• Creativity and the law


• The rights of the artist


• The responsibilities of the artist


• Journalism and ethics


• Who own an art piece?


• Big business and creativity


• Can art change society?


• The ethics of art collecting, art dealing and museums

Learning Outcome

Students will learn that a piece of art can have a dimension of ethical consequence outside of its bounds as a passive object. This knowledge they will be able to apply to real-life examples.

Student Assessment

  1. Final Written Examination: 70%

  2. Continuous Assessment: 30%


Suggested Reading:

  1. Ethics and the Visual Arts. (2006). Ethics and the Visual Arts. Allworth Pr.

  2. Art, Emotion and Ethics. (2009). Art, Emotion and Ethics. Oxford University Press, USA.

  3. Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. (2010). Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. Graphic Artists Guild.

  4. Ld. Law and Art. (2011). Law and Art. Routledge Cavendish.​