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Unit information: Approaching the Object in 2018/19

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Unit name Approaching the Object
Unit code HART10007
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Miss. Brace
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History of Art (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


In this unit we will be introducing you to some of the key skills that will carry you through your degree. The most important aim of the unit is to encourage you to read, write and think as an art historian and to introduce you to the challenges and the excitement of actually exploring the discipline yourself. This unit will be taught by a series of lectures and seminars. Everyone attends the 20 hours of lectures which include a large number of field trips within Bristol. You are then divided into smaller groups for the accompanying seminars. By the end of the unit you should have acquired key skills in visual analysis and an understanding of the core concepts used by art historians. You should understand what is distinctive about the study of art history and understand why art historians study their subject in the ways they do. You should also be able to reflect upon the complex relationship between evidence and interpretation, and to think about the nature of academic debate.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate awareness of different approaches to the history of art, and be able to reflect critically upon these different approaches
  2. utilise iconographical skills and conduct visual analysis
  3. understand what constitutes plagiarism
  4. work in a group on a research project
  5. participate in a group presentation
  6. employ Powerpoint or similar technology effectively in a presentation

Teaching details

1 x 2 hour lecture per week

1 x 1 hour workshop per week

Access to tutorial consultation with unit tutor(s)

Assessment Details


• Plagiarism test (students are required to pass this in order to complete the unit) [ILO 3]


• 1 x 1-hour exam (50%) [ILOS 1 &2]

• Group project presentation (50% of unit mark) which results in an individual mark. [ILOs 4-6]

Reading and References

Robert S. Nelson and Richard Shiff (eds.), Critical Terms for Art History (2nd ed., University of Chicago Press, 2003)

Donald Preziosi and Claire Farago, Grasping the World: the Idea of the Museum (Ashgate, 2003)

Tony Bennett, 'Civic Seeing: Museums and the Organization of Vision', in A Companion to Museum Studies, edited by Sharon Macdonald (Oxford, 2006)

Carol Duncan, Civilizing Rituals: inside public art museums (London, 1995)

Marcia Pointon (ed.), Art Apart: Art Institutions and Ideology across England and North America