First year modules

Compulsory modules

Historical Concepts in the History of Art

This module provides a thorough foundation in the historical concepts and categories employed in the analysis of works of art. Examples include: the meaning of style; artistic ‘schools’; iconography and symbolism; the meaning of ‘genre’ and different artistic genres; the distinction between ‘fine’ and ‘applied’ art; and the figure of the artist.

These themes are explored in relation to individual artworks that are studied both in reproduction and also in situ, in the Barber or other museums and galleries in Birmingham. The module also includes study skills sessions that introduce students to conventions of academic research, reading and writing.

Debates and Methods in the History of Art

This module gives a thorough introduction to the various contemporary approaches and methods used in the interpretation of works of art, with a particular focus on the questions and debates that are prompted by their use in art history.

Examples include: formal analysis; semiology; the social history of art; gender studies; studies of patronage and the art market; biography; theories of visual culture. These themes are explored in relation to individual artworks that are studied both in reproduction and also in situ, in the Barber or in other museums and galleries in Birmingham. The module also includes further study skills sessions, including the opportunity to reflect on work submitted and assessed in the first semester.

Object and Medium 1: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculptures

This module gives a thorough introduction to the various media, techniques and processes used in the production of paintings (egg tempera and oil), drawings, prints and sculptures (marble and bronze).The module examines the ways in which materials and processes shape the appearance of two- and three-dimensional artworks,. The module examines examples from a wide range of periods. Particular emphasis is given to the study of artworks at first hand, using the collection in particular of the Barber Institute.

Object and Medium 2: Photography, Film, Performance and Installation 

This module gives a thorough introduction to the various techniques and processes used in the production of photographs, films, performance and installation art. It also considers the meaning of ‘place’ in shaping the meaning and function of art, examining the film theatre and the settings of exhibitions and installations of twentieth century and contemporary Emphasis is given to the study of galleries and collections in Birmingham, such as the MAC and IKON.

Writing Art’s Histories I: From Antiquity to Enlightenment

This module is an introduction to key moments in the history of art from Classical Antiquity to the mid 19th Century. It will examine key artistic styles and historic period concepts, such as, for example, Classical and Neoclassical, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo. The module will not, however, merely offer a survey of ‘periods;’ its aim is to encourage critical reflection on the origins of such terms and to consider their place and meaning in art historical writing. 

Writing Art’s Histories II: Romantic, Modern and Contemporary Art

This module is an introduction to key moments in the history of art from the rise of modernism to the present. It aims to provide students with an analytical overview of the landscape of art history since the mid-1800s. It will explore outlines of key artistic movements and ideas such as, for example, symbolism, fauvism, surrealism, constructivism and abstract expressionism. The module is not, however, merely a ‘survey’ of artistic movements, for it will also examine the uses of such terms by art historians and their place in art historical writing.

Optional modules

Module outside the main discipline (MOMD)

An MOMD is a module in a subject which is not normally a part of the student's main degree programme but which may be taken for additional credit to enhance their study. Schools and Departments across the University open up modules to students from other areas in a wide range of subjects and disciplines. Please note that this option is only applicable to Single Honours students and not Joint Honours students.