Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Education


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module explores the nature of modernist art in Europe in the period 1905-1915.
  • It does so from the viewpoint of opposing critical theories which seek to explain how and why the visual arts should undergo such a remarkable transition at this time.


  • This module explores the development of the visual arts in Europe in the decade 1905-1915.
  • The period was characterised by an astonishing variety of styles known as 'isms'.
  • Cubism and Expressionism are well known but others such as Rayism, Orphism, Vorticism, Futurism and Neo-Primitivism contributed just as forcefully to one of the most significant periods in the history of European culture - the birth of modernism.
  • The module explores these 'isms' through differing critical methodologies which provide divergent and sometimes opposed views about the significance of modernist art and about the possible meanings that artists attempted to negotiate through their work.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should be able to identify the key movements and practitioners in early 20th century European art and to explore and understand them through differing critical perspectives.
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 to the 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, Sage and local theatres for relevant music and stage work and Tyneside Cinema for relevant film material).
  • 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 ‘subject-specific knowledge and skills’ but principally address the ‘subject-specific skills’ and ‘key’ skills outlined above. The assignment 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: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
written examination 2 hours 100%
Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
assignment 2000 words 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