We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Faculty Handbook 2019-2020

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run each academic year.

Department: Education


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To help students acquire a conceptual 'map' of the arts and the place of central historical figures, movements and ideas.
  • To help students understand what distinguishes the arts from other disciplines of study.
  • To help students understand some of the approaches and topics characteristic of the arts.
  • To help students gain an understanding of key terms and vocabulary in the arts.
  • To enable students to understand the role of the Arts in the context of their wider studies.
  • To enable students to draw distinctions and make connections between music and visual arts.


  • This module explores the key practices and debates that have informed the broad development of the arts in Europe from Classical Antiquity to the present day.
  • The module is arranged in a chronological manner but is structured around key themes such as Classical 'Beauty' and the nature of Gothic, Gender issues, Cultures of Opposition, Primitivism, the arts and politics, the arts and the Church and Kitsch and Culture.
  • These themes may be seen to recur again and again as key issues of debate amongst artists and composers as they have struggled in different generations to develop the practice of their art in new contexts.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should be able to demonstrate: knowledge of the place of central historical figures, movements and ideas.
  • An understanding of what distinguishes the arts from other disciplines of study.
  • An understanding of many of the approaches and topics characteristics of the arts.
  • An understanding of key terms and vocabulary in the arts.
  • An ability to draw distinctions and make connections between music and visual arts.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • undertaking personal research on a specific project;
  • Personal exploration of examples of visual art and music from the European context;
  • the provision of well argued conclusions relating to specific issues regarding artistic theories and practices;
  • To evaluate the significance of particular historical events and ideas in the development of the arts;
  • To analyse art works (music and visual art) in terms of their form and content;
  • To reflect upon the complex relations existing at any one point between the arts and the society that gives rise to them;
  • To identify and evaluate the construction of meaning in specific examples of artistic production;
  • To explore the relationship between diverse artistic disciplines.
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;
  • interpret and present relevant cultural information;
  • 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 will be delivered through a programme of weekly lectures and fortnightly seminars, which will be supported by directed study tasks.
  • The lectures will convey relevant historical, cultural and philosophical knowledge and will introduce students to key practices and debates that have underpinned the development of the arts in the European context.
  • Directed study tasks will allow for assessment of critical texts and sources.
  • These activities will encourage the students to think critically about key works of visual art and music, and to assess their meaning within the contexts that gave rise to them.
  • The formative assessment will take form of an assignment, which will introduce the students to academic writing at degree level and particularly to the requirements of writing about the arts in an informed and critical manner.
  • The summative assessment will take the form of an assignment which involves the student in researching a given theme and will demand use of: relevant terminology, analytical skills in relation to the works chosen for discussion, the presentation of relevant socio-historical, cultural and philosophical knowledge as well as the use of primary sources and critical texts.
  • An end of the year examination will require demonstration of overall knowledge of the practices and debates, themes and issues which have acted as determinants upon the broad development of the arts in the European tradition.

Teaching Methods and Contact Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 Weekly 1 hour 21
Seminars 11 Fortnightly 1 hour 11
Preparation and Reading 168
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Assignment Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
one essay 2,000 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
2-hour examination paper 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment (2,000 words) will be provided through a written assignment on a given theme. The title will be given to the students at the start of the module.

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

If you have a query about a specific module or degree programme, please contact the appropriate department.

If you have a question about Durham's modular degree programmes, please visit our FAQ webpage.  If you have a question about modular programmes that is not covered by the FAQ, or a query about the on-line Faculty Handbook, please contact us using the Comments and Questions form below.