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Study information

Approaches to Art History and Visual Culture

Module titleApproaches to Art History and Visual Culture
Module codeAHV1012
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Rosalind Hayes ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module builds on AHV1011 Questions and Methods in Art History and Visual Culture by introducing you to the practical applications of study in the subject. Drawing on a range of contemporary critical debates, it offers you the opportunity to engage with current approaches relevant to archival and curatorial practices, digital art history, the art market, and the relationship between cultural consumption and visuality. You will learn about more specialised issues in the field, and will have the opportunity to apply a deeper understanding of Art History & Visual Culture through a variety of learning methods, including lectures, seminars, workshops, and a project-based learning assessment.

Module aims - intentions of the module

Building on AHV1011 Questions and Methods in Art History and Visual Culture in Term 1, this module aims to:

  • Provide an understanding of the practical and creative applications of Art History & Visual Culture.
  • Engage critically with a range of specialist approaches to the subject.
  • Assist your thinking about the production and consumption of works of visual art and culture in a contemporary context.
  • Encourage you to develop individualised and collaborative approaches to your learning path through project-based learning and group workshop activities.

The module offers you a critical awareness of a range of contemporary approaches to Art History & Visual Culture, as well as their wider social, economic and creative applications. Through project work, the module acquaints you with a range of innovative University resources, including the Digital Humanities Lab and the collections of the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, and provides practical instruction in the making and dissemination of individual research projects. The project-based learning assessment allows you to apply and present your work through diverse formats, such as a video essay, podcast, blog, online exhibition or presentation.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe and evaluate some of the dominant concepts, methods and debates informing art history & visual culture as a mode of enquiry
  • 2. Apply a variety of methodologies and theoretical approaches to the interpretation of visual artefacts and practices in an informed way
  • 3. Demonstrate knowledge of art, visual culture and visuality in different historical periods
  • 4. Undertake independent and groupwork research on a visual artefact or practice

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Research, present and evaluate relevant descriptive and analytic material with increased independence??
  • 6. Use specialist terminology effectively and make proficient use of the relevant literature

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Through writing and project assessments, demonstrate good research and bibliographic skills, construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and write clear and correct prose
  • 8. Through research for projects and essays, retrieve and analyse information proficiently
  • 9. Through project work, work collaboratively orally and/or in written form, and in teams towards the development, research, organisation, and expression of ideas under pressure of time

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that the module will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Aesthetics 
  • Connoisseurship 
  • Exhibiting art and visual culture 
  • Visual culture and mass consumption 
  • Digital art history 

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching11Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching11Seminars - these will be led by the tutor. You will need to prepare for each seminar and to present on a given topic on at least one occasion (1 hr per week)
Scheduled learning and teaching22Workshops (2 hours every week)
Scheduled learning and teaching12Tutorial guidance for reading, research and essay preparation
Guided independent study244Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Critical analysis500 words1-8Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Oral presentation5-10 minutes1-9Peer-assessment recorded on feedback sheet with tutorial follow-up

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay502,000 words1-8Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Project501,500 words1-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-8Referral/Deferral period
ProjectProject1-9Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

For Participation and engagement: you will either repeat the exercise of responding to the prompts for the 600-word write ups, or, if all of the participation makes have been missed, you must complete a 3000-word essay on a particular topic as chosen by the course convenor.

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Mieke Bal ‘Visual Essentialism and the Object of Visual Culture’, Journal of Visual Culture 2, no. 1, 2003 pp. 5–32. [see also ‘Responses to Mieke Bal’s “Visual Essentialism and the Object of Visual Culture.” ’ Journal of Visual Culture 2, no. 2, 2003, pp. 229–68.
  • Malcolm Barnard, Approaches to Understanding Visual Culture, 2001.
  • Hans Belting, An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body, 2011.
  • Daniel J. Cohen, Digital History: A guide to Gathering Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006.
  • Stuart Hall. "The Work of Representation." In Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, ed. Stuart Hall, 13–74. London: Sage, 1997.
  • Jonathan Harris  The New Art History: A Critical Introduction , 2001.
  • Nicholas Mirzoeff (ed.), The Visual Culture Reader, 1998.
  • Hans Ulrich Obrist, Ways of Curating. London: Penguin Books, 2014.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources


Key words search

Visual culture, media, art history

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

AHV1011 Questions and Methods in Art History and Visual Culture

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date