BA Art History and French / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Art and Ecologies

Course unit fact file
Unit code AHCP30052
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Art History and Cultural Practices
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Art and Ecologies in the Global South

This seminar-based course examines the relationship between nature, art and technology in modern and contemporary art. We consider how artists, activists and theorists negotiate crises linked with globalisation, the hauntings of the colonial past and the challenges posed by growing biopolitical struggles around ecology, food sovereignty, and climate change.

The course traces the definitions of the term ‘ecology’, juxtaposing theories of the term based on critical literature with those more attuned to specific localities. It places emphasis on practices concerned with nature in the wake of decolonial movements, the fight for the rights of nature and debates about the future. In addition to core readings, students will engage in particular lines of thought with small groups and present their findings to the full class. They will pursue their own research, crafted in response to the course agenda and visits to the Manchester University Herbarium.



The course enables students to comprehend the development of art practice in relation to questions of ecology, intervention and critique in the context of the challenges posed by globalisation. Students will learn how to make sense of definitions of the term ‘ecology’ by evaluating and comparing theories whilst being exposed to a variety of forms of assessment.


Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how artists deploy a variety of art forms across twentieth and twenty-first centuries to relate to ecology and confront the challenges posed by globalisation.
  • Evaluate and assess the significance of artistic contributions in relation to the theme of ecology and globalisation.
  • Show critical awareness of historical and art historical literature, both past and present.
  • Produce a satisfactory account describing how artists negotiate the challenges posed by environmental devastation in relation to wider debates.
  • Demonstrate ability to work both independently and collaboratively on a set topic.


Intellectual skills

  • Demonstrate knowledge of a particular area in the history of art.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of works of art in their historical context.
  • Engage in detailed and critical discussion of art historical and methodological issues at a satisfactory level.
  • Display independent and critical understanding of the material.
  • Use and exploit research resources in the field.
  • Articulate arguments both verbally and in writing.
  • Complete an original academic research project under supervision.
  • Demonstrate that they have developed the ability to work under pressure and are able to articulate their knowledge effectively under time constraints.


Practical skills

  • Conduct independent research in libraries and online.
  • Devise and execute a structured research and writing plan.
  • Produce and deliver a well-developed oral presentation.
  • Work collaboratively and develop willingness to share, debate and exchange knowledge with colleagues.
  • Assess and integrate peer critical feedback on their own work.


Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Understand, assess and synthesise key arguments from a variety of research sources.
  • Deliver oral presentations with confidence and clarity in class.
  • Become an original and independent-minded researcher and writer.
  • Become an indispensable team-player able to contribute, lead and moderate critical discussions in class.
  • Produce a clear and cogent written exposition of a given topic.
  • Manage time efficiently and deliver written and oral work to set deadlines.
  • Deploy IT resources for research and communication purposes.

Employability skills

This course prepares students to continue with graduate and postgraduate study and equips them with sufficient transferable skills to enter a wide range of professional employment. On completion of this course students will be equipped with a range of transferable skills in research, synthesis of key arguments, independent thinking, time management, written and oral delivery, and general IT literacy.

Assessment methods

Seminar Paper/Presentation 20%
Essay 1 40%
Exam 40%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Oral and written feedback on presentation


Written feedback on Essays


Supplementary one-to-one feedback by appointment or during office hours



Recommended reading

Emilia Terracciano, ‘Hundreds of Birds Killed’ in Manora Field Notes, Pavilion of Pakistan at the 58th Venice Biennale in collaboration with Art Divvy (Milan: Mousse Publishing, 2019), pp. 27-31

T.J. Demos, ‘Rights of Nature’ in Decolonising Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology (Berlin: Sternberg, 2016), pp. 221-228

Sita Reddy,The Weight of a Petal: Ars Botanica’, Marg, December 2018 – March 2019, vol.70, no.2.

Lambert Schmithausen, Plants in Early Buddhism and the Far Eastern Idea of the Buddha-Nature of Grasses and Trees (Lumbini: International Research Institute, 2009)

Peter, Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate (London: William Collins, 2017)

Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge: Harvard University, 2011), pp. 1-44

Anselm Franke, ‘The Forensic Scenography: Planet Earth as Forensic Object’ in ‘Forensis: The Architecture of Public Truth, (London and Berlin: Sternberg and Forensic Architecture, 2014), pp. 483-494

Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (Delhi: Penguin Books, 2016), pp. 117-155

Terracciano, Emilia. “Disappearing Worlds:” The Caravan, February 2014. 106-113.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Emilia Terracciano Unit coordinator

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