Art History: A Survey

This survey module, taught at first-year undergraduate level, will introduce you to key periods, themes and movements in Western art from antiquity through to the late twentieth century. The module begins by exploring the foundations of European art, before moving on to the art and architecture of the medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods.

A session on the eighteenth century is followed by a series of classes which follow the European avant-gardes through late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century modernism, concluding with the period of intense artistic activity from Pop Art to Conceptualism.

All these periods and movements are considered in their full historical and theoretical contexts. The module is organised into 6 blocks, with each block of 3 lectures and a seminar relating to a particular period. Whilst the lectures will provide you with a broad overview of stylistic developments and art historical approaches, the smaller seminar groups allow for detailed discussion of individual artworks, buildings and texts.

Self-directed gallery and site visits are an integral part of the module.

Assessment is via 2 essays of 1500 words each and a 3-hour exam.

The module aims to:

  • Contribute to a sound training in the discipline of history of art.
  • Provide an introduction to the narratives of Western art from classical antiquity to the 1970s, charting the cultural contexts and stylistic principles of significant developments in art, architecture and design.
  • Enhance the ability to observe, identify and analyse works of visual culture.
  • Enhance your awareness of the ways in which art can be related to broader social, political, economic and cultural contexts.
  • Enhance your familiarity with current debates and approaches to the discipline.
  • Offer opportunities to develop subject-specific skills and a range of transferable skills.
  • Provide intellectual stimulus and challenges for those studying for personal development.

This Short Course can be taken as a stand-alone course or it may be available as part of a Certificate of Higher Education.

Learning objectives

On successful completion of this module, students will be expected to have:

  • Acquired a knowledge the narratives of Western art from Classical antiquity to the 1970s.
  • Developed the ability to observe, identify and analyse works of visual culture.
  • Developed a critical awareness of the functions of such works within the social and cultural contexts of their production and reception.
  • Become familiar with current debates and approaches to the subject.
  • Developed their ability to analyse and interpret critically historical evidence.
  • Developed their ability to read critically and analyse the secondary literature.
  • Developed their ability to construct and present coherent arguments orally and in writing.
  • Been encouraged to develop effective skills of presentation and communication.
  • Been encouraged to develop skills in managing computer and audio-visual technology and resources.
  • Been encouraged to develop skills of constructive debate.
  • Increased responsibility for their own learning by undertaking independent research.

    30 credits at level 4

    • Entry requirements

      Entry requirements

      Most of our short courses have no formal entry requirements and are open to all students. You may have to fulfil specific prerequisites for some intermediate-level or advanced-level courses, but these will be specified where relevant.

      Visa requirements

      If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

      The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

      • Courses of more than six months’ duration.
      • Courses of less than six months’ duration.
      • Pre-sessional English language courses.

      International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our three-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees, as these are classified as full-time study and qualify for student visa status. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time evening study degrees.

      For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    • How to apply

      How to apply

      You enrol directly onto the classes you would like to take, using the Enrol Now link below. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis – so apply early. If you wish to take more than one short course, you can select each one separately and then enrol onto them together via our online application portal. There is usually no formal selection process, although some modules may have prerequisites and/or other requirements, which will be specified where relevant.

    First class: Mon 02-Oct-17 6pm-7.30pm

    Class location Central London
    Class code ARVC205S4AAA

    This class has already started. You can no longer enrol on this class.