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Doing Art History


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 4
  • Convenor: to be confirmed
  • Assessment: two visual analyses of 500 and 1000 words (10% and 50%) and a 1000-word article/chapter summary (40%)

Module description

This module revolves around eight art historical case studies, using well-known and less familiar objects in a variety of media, from the Middle Ages to now. Seminar discussions focus on:

  • visual appearances, materials and techniques and how they contribute to our understanding of a work
  • how to visually analyse works
  • the difference between description and analysis.

These skills will be developed during workshops in which we also read a range of art historical texts to begin to learn the conventions of art historical writing and how to use them in our own writing.

Case studies typically include celebrated works from national collections available in London, such as the National Gallery and Tate Modern, and elsewhere. Examples include:

  • Jan van Eyck Arnolfini, Double Portrait of a young man and woman, 1434, National Gallery, London
  • Bernini, Apollo and Daphne, 1622-5, Galleria Borghese, Rome
  • St Pancras station, George Gilbert Scott and William Henry Barlow, 1865-1876
  • Liz Arthur Johnson, Time Don’t Run Here, at Tate Modern, made during the Black Lives Matter protests throughout summer 2020 in London

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • visually analyse artworks
  • identify and summarise key points of art historical arguments.