Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Education


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the history of Modern art and to explore the possible meanings that Modern art possesses.


  • This module explores the development of Modern art from its origins in Romanticism, through the hey-day of Impressionism and the rise of Abstraction to the Postmodernism of the present day.
  • To access the meanings and significance of Modern art the module adopts a socio-historical viewpoint but also relies upon critical methodologies such as Modernism and Feminism.
  • Primary sources such as artists' writings and critical commentaries are used to contribute to our understanding of what Modern art is and why it looks the way it does and what it means.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the module students should understand the development of Modern art in its socio-historical and cultural context.
  • They should be able to undertake a sophisticated pictorial analysis of an art work and to use relevant professional terminology.
  • In addition, they should appreciate the value of differing methodologies and primary sources in constructing meaning.
  • They should recognise that the form of an art work is integral to its meaning and be able to explore those meanings in the context of existing art practice and in relation to disciplines such as Music, Literature, Philosophy and Science.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to demonstrate an ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding through:
  • a) their personal research on a particualar topic;
  • b) personal exploration of examples of visual culture from the period;
  • c) the provision of well argued conclusions relating to specific issues regarding artistic theory and practice;
  • d) evaluation of the critical methodologies as they apply tothe history of art;
  • e) the analysis of art works in terms of their form and content;
  • f) reflection upon the relations between visual culture and society;
  • g) identifying and evaluating the 'construction' of meaning in examples of visual art.
  • h) explore different ways of 'reading', understanding and explaining objects of visual culture.
Key Skills:
  • think critically and independently;
  • analyse, synthesise, evaluate and identify problems and solutions;
  • acquire complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way;
  • construct and sustain a reasoned argument;
  • communicate effectively with appropriate use of specialist vocabulary;
  • use ICT and a variety of library and IT resources;
  • improve their own learning and performance, including the development of study and research skills, information retrieval, and a capacity to plan and manage learning, and to reflect on their own learning;

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module is taught through a series of informal lectures in which open discussion of ideas and art works is encouraged. The curriculum is developed through group work activities in which the students examine themes and issues as they are expressed in particular examples of art works. The lectures use a variety of teaching materials: digital projection and Powerpoint, CD and DVD, handouts, Duo, Discussion Board, and Directed Study. Site visits will be organised where and when possible (e.g. galleries and museums for relevant exhibitions).
  • Assessment is provided through a 2000 word summative due for submission at Easter. This allows the students time to develop their subject knowledge and their understanding of the key ideas that the module seeks to address. Students are provided with a selection of essay titles and are required to write to one of them. The assignment titles, the assessment criteria, and the tutor's responses to the assignments focus partly on 'subjective specific knowledge and skills' but principally address the 'subject-specific skills' and 'key' skills outlined above. The assignments will be the main vehicle for the assessment of 'subject specific' and 'key' skills which the module seeks to develop."

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 Weekly 2 hours 42
Fieldwork 1 Annual 2 hours 2
Preparation and Reading 156
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
written assignment of 2000 words in length submitted during the Epiphany Term 2000 words 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
one examination of two-hours duration 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Informal formative assessment will take place during group work sessions in the lectures and will include the assessment of presentation skills, skills of visual analysis, and the ability to deploy critical theory and methodology. Formative student feedback is provided through: i) informal verbal feedback on assignment planning (if requested); ii) verbal feedback to lecture contributions iii) verbal feedback at the end of group work iv) answers to all questions asked by students.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University