Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Education


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To explore the nature of art and design in France in the period 1870-1900 and to assess the extent to which socio-political, economic and cultural factors determined artistic developments.


  • This module explores the development of the visual arts in France during the period known as the Belle Epoque (1870-1900).
  • It was the hey-day of the Moulin Rouge and the visual arts underwent a profound revolution.
  • The naturalistic art of Impressionism, which dominated the beginning of the period, was overtaken by Postimpressionism, Symbolism and Art Nouveau which reflected a dramatic change in artistic practice.
  • To access the meaning and significance of the visual arts at this time a socio-political viewpoint is adopted alongside the use of primary sources such as artists' writings and commentaries which contribute to our understanding of the belle Epoque and it arts.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should be able to identify the key practitioners and movements in French art during 1870-1900 and to understand the development of the arts in relation to the wider context of the Belle Epoque.
  • At the end of the module the student will be able to: 1) identify key practitioners in the art and design of the period.
  • 2) understand the key significance of the artistic debates of the day: 3) perceive relationships between 'Fine Art' and arts of Graphic Design, Architecture and Interior Design.
  • 4) to explain the causal relationship between the socio-political context and the development of art and design at this time.
  • 5) assess the relative importance of form and content in negotiating meaning.
  • 6) use relevant professional terminology.
  • 7) develop an awareness of gender issues in relation to the period in question.
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.
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;
  • explore different ways of 'reading', understanding and explaining objects of visual culture.

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 2 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 2000 words 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
examination 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