This course is available through clearing

If you already have your exam results, meet the entry requirements and hold no offers, then you can apply to this course now.

Contact the admissions team

If you're waiting for your results, then sign up to our clearing alerts to get all the information you need ahead of results day.

Sign up now

BA Latin and Linguistics

Year of entry: 2020

Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

For the latest updates on how coronavirus will affect applicants and offer-holders, you can visit our FAQs.

Read our latest coronavirus information

Holding an offer for 2020 entry? Visit our dedicated offer-holders page.

Information for offer-holders

Course unit details:
Ice Age to Baroque: Artworks in History

Unit code SALC10041
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Art History and Visual Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course uses in-depth analyses of individual artworks (or works of architecture) to introduce students to the methods, concepts and problems of art historical understanding.

Each lecture is focused on the detailed exposition of one artwork (or work of architecture), and the lectures as a whole are arranged chronologically across a period mainly from the Middle Ages to c. 1700, but also including some artworks from before this period. The course is neither the study of a canon nor a traditional survey of art history, although it will reflect upon both. It selects not only some of the great and unruly artworks of the past, but also some of the marginal or neglected; the low as well as the high; the juste milieu as well as the exceptional. It makes no claim at completion of coverage, indeed its focus on individual works is intended to expose and thus enable reflection on periods and areas of art not included or not usually included in surveys. Two things are key: that the artworks are used to introduce and explain foundational art historical concepts; and that the lectures centre on the problems of understanding and interpreting artworks in relation to their historical moment. An important by-product of the course is to provide students with a broad chronological armature for their study of art history in other courses. Accordingly the lectures will use artworks to discuss issues of historical location (style, period, school, movement, development etc).


‘Ice Age to Baroque: Artworks in History ’ aims –

  • To introduce students to a rich and varied range of artworks (and works of architecture) across the period from late antiquity to the present day.
  • To provide students with an understanding of some of the problems of locating art in historical contexts.
  • To model students’ powers of description and analysis.
  • To introduce key concepts for the historical understanding of artworks.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students should/will be able to:


Lectures are based on individual artworks across the period from late antiquity to the present day. Lectures will change from year to year.

Possible lectures may include:

The Venus of Lespugue (c25,000 BC)

The Chigi Vase (or Olpe Chigi), Rome, Museo di Villa Giulia, 6th century B.C.

The Alexander Mosaic, Pompeii, House of the Faun, c.a 100 B.C.

Trajan’s column, Rome, 113 CE

The Pantheon, Rome, 117-126 CE

Santa Costanza, Rome, dedicated 337 

The Syon Cope (1300-1320)

Giotto, Noli me tangere, Arena Chapel, Padua, circa 1305

Duccio, The Madonna of the Franciscans circa 1300

Jan  van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434

Raphael, The School of Athens, c. 1510

Michelangelo – The Last Judgement (1536-41)

Breugel – Hunters in the Snow (1565)

Anguissola – Bernardino Campo Painting Sofonisba Anguissola (c1550)

Vermeer – A Young Woman Seated at a Virginal (1670-72)

Chardin – The House of Cards (1736)

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and small group seminars.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate an understanding of some of the basic art historical terms for describing artworks (or works of architecture)
  • Locate artworks from the course in their historical context across the period.

Intellectual skills

  • Explain the problems of applying the idea of a canon to art history and of organizing artworks as a survey
  • Describe artworks at length, based on close observation
  • Develop multi-layered explanations of art’s relation to other historical phenomena

Practical skills

  • Write essays, both as coursework and in exams, that demonstrate a BA level 1 competence in the organization of evidence and argument

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Take appropriate notes in lectures.
  • Reflect on the qualities needed to contribute effectively in seminar discussion

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 25%
Oral assessment/presentation 25%

Feedback methods

  • Written feedback on group presentation
  • Written feedback on coursework
  • Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)
  • Examination feedback (on request)

Recommended reading

Reading will be a combination of readings specific to the art work discussed in the lectures (which will change from year to year), and more general reading on surveys, canons, and the language of art history.

General reading as follows:

Bell, Julian. Mirror of the World, London and New York, 2010.

Elkins, James. Stories of Art, London and New York, 2002.

Gardner, Helen Louise. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History, New York, 2009.

Gombrich, Ernst. The Story of Art (first pub. 1950), London, 2006.

Honour, Hugh and Fleming, John. A World History of Art, London, 1999.

Janson, H. W. History of Art, London, 1995.

 Pointon, Marcia, History of Art: a student’s handbook, Routledge: London, 1992.

Pooke, Grant and Newall, Diana, Art History. The basics, Routledge: Abingdon, 2008. 

Preziosi, Donald, The Art of Art History, Oxford University Press, 2009.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
External visits 4
Lectures 22
Seminars 12
Independent study hours
Independent study 160

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Mark Crinson Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Semester 1

Lectures: Tuesday 2pm to 3pm and Thursday 2pm to 3pm

Seminars: Wednesday 11am to 1pm or Monday 4pm to 6pm or Thursday 9am to 11am

Return to course details