Module Outline (updated 25.07.18)

This module investigates issues that are crucial for the understanding of works of art and the history and present of their analysis. It focuses on seminal texts from the 20th and 21st centuries that offer different theoretical and methodological perspectives for the study of art and culture and aims to develop a broad theoretical foundation for the study of art history in general. Each week different key texts and methodological approaches will be explored and used to question how they change our understandings of a range of important artworks. We will also think about links between texts and their relation to wider developments in the history of art and beyond. Key topics covered in the module include semiotics, psychoanalysis, structuralism/post-structuralism, feminism and gender, Marxism, race and post-colonialism/decolonialism, queer theory and ideology critique.


* to provide students with knowledge of some of the key theoretical issues relating to the history of art;
* to encourage students to interact and to engage critically with theoretical texts relating to the study of art history;
* to develop students' skills of analysis and interpretation of works of art and architecture;
* to stimulate students to develop skills in oral and written communication through debates and essays;
* to introduce students to original works of art and architecture in galleries and museums, in addition to their classroom studies.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this module students should be able:

* to demonstrate a sound knowledge and grasp of a number of key theoretical texts relating to the study of the history of art;
* to speak and write articulately about theoretical issues relating to the study of the history of art;
* to analyse and interpret works of art and architecture;
* to relate their analyses and interpretations of works of art to theoretical literature;
* to approach theoretical literature in a critical fashion.

By the end of the module, students should also have acquired a set of transferable skills, and in particular be able to:

* define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant;
* seek and organise the most relevant discussions and sources of information;
* process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments;
* compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure;
* write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications;
* be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them;
* think 'laterally' and creatively (i.e., to explore interesting connections and possibilities, and to present these clearly rather than as vague hunches);
* maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position based on feedback;
* think critically and constructively.