MA Egyptology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Art and Artists in Ancient Egypt

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE66132
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This 15-credit unit is a compulsory part of the part-time online master’s in Egyptology and will be taught during the second semester of the first year. The unit will equip students with a fundamental understanding of ancient Egyptian art, materials and technologies.


The first part of the unit reviews some of the methods and theories employed by Egyptologists to address the concept of “art” in an ancient Egyptian context. This includes a consideration of ancient Egyptian cannons, and conventions of physical decorations and expressions applied to 2-D and 3-D art. The conservation of art is also considered.


The second part of the unit includes a series of case-studies, including designing and decorating a tomb, pottery as art, jewellery and textiles.


Throughout the unit, the podcast “Art Object of the Week” provides an opportunity for students to focus one specific piece of art.


The unit aims to:


  • Explore the concepts of “art” and “artists” with reference to ancient Egypt.
  • Explore ancient Egyptian artistic cannons and conventions.
  • Consider some of the basic materials worked by the ancient Egyptians (including stone, pottery, wood, pigment, linen).
  • Provide students with a detailed understanding of the tools and techniques employed by ancient Egyptian artists.





Teaching and learning methods

This course is delivered entirely on-line with no possibility of face-to-face teaching and no possibility of face-to-face staff student meetings.


Knowledge and understanding

demonstrate basic understanding of the principles of art history and art historical analysis.


demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the concepts of art as it relates to ancient Egypt (cannons and conventions).


show knowledge of different materials and object types produced by ancient Egyptian artisans and craftsmen.



Intellectual skills

construct cogent academic arguments in a written form.


critically evaluate and analyse historical data.


display understanding of the theoretical framework employed in the study of works of art.


Practical skills

structure an academic arguments in a written format.


date a variety of object types by physical examination.


Transferable skills and personal qualities

effectively conduct research independently.


assimilate large amounts of data in various formats.


Assessment methods

Discussion Boards - 0%

Essay - 100%

Feedback methods

Discussion Boards - ongoing feedback

Essay - written feedback within 15 days.

Recommended reading

Barta, M. (ed.) 2006. The Old Kingdom Art and Archaeology: Proceedings of the Conference Held in Prague, May 31-June 4, 2004. Czech Institute of Egyptology: Prague.


Hartwig, M. K. 2015. A Companion to Ancient Egyptian Art. Wiley Blackwell: Chichester.


Meskell, L. 2004. Object Worlds in Ancient Egypt: Material Biographies Past and Present. Berg: Oxford.


Nicholson, P. T. and I. Shaw (ed.) 2000. Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.


Robins, G. 1994. Proportion and Style in Ancient Egyptian Art. University of Texas Press: Austin.


Robins, G. 1997. The Art of Ancient Egypt. Harvard University Press: Cambridge.


Schafer, H. 1986. Principles of Egyptian Art. Griffith Institute: Oxford.


Shaw, I. 2012. Ancient Egyptian Technology and Innovation: Transformations in Pharaonic Material Culture. Bristol Classic Press: London.


Smith, W. S. 1998. The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt. Yale University Press: New Haven.


Whitney, D. 1989. The Canonical Tradition in Ancient Egyptian Art. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.


Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nicky Nielsen Unit coordinator
Joyce Tyldesley Unit coordinator

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