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; 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 in external visits to, for example, galleries and museums in Birmingham and London.

The module also introduces students via formative assessment to good practice in oral seminar presentations and essay writing. Students are further supported in their transition to, and sense of belonging at, university via Personal Academic Tutoring activities. These include lectures on study skills; practical opportunities to develop academic and personal skills using resources such as Canvas and Pebble Pad; and small group tutorials and related small group learning and research activities.

Debates and Methods in the History of Art

This module gives a thorough introduction to the various approaches and methods used in the interpretation of works of art, with a particular focus on recent methods and the debates that have been prompted by their application. 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.

Via formative assessment the module strengthens students’ good practice in oral seminar presentations. Students are further supported in their sense of belonging at, and inclusion in, the university via Personal Academic Tutoring activities. These include lectures on study skills; practical opportunities to develop academic and personal skills using resources such as Canvas and Pebble Pad; and small group tutorials and related small group learning and research activities.

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.

A History of Art in 20 Objects (OR taking a language via Languages for All)

This module will introduce students  to a History of Art in 20 Objects. Each lecture will take as its premise a single artwork or other type of visual object and focus in detail (but also in visual comparison) on its specificity as this relates to a history of art defined in broad geographical, temporal and methodological terms. The objects to be studied have been selected for a range of coherent reasons that may relate to their uniqueness, their representativeness or their capacity to act as the springboard for discussion of broader themes.  One is just as likely to study an object made by a contemporary or ancient artist, or a ‘masterpiece’ by Leonardo da Vinci or Pablo Picasso, as a work by a less canonical or even unidentifiable artist. The module will not provide a chronological survey of the history of art but will introduce students to some fundamental ideas about art, its origins, functions, materials, techniques, meanings and cultural purposes. 

Alternatively, students may wish to take a language via the University's Languages for All scheme.