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The arts past and present

This broadly-focused module introduces you to university-level study in the arts across a range of subject areas - art history, classical studies, English, history, philosophy, music and religious studies. It is structured around four themes, in order to guide you through some of the basic concerns of arts subjects: Reputations; Tradition and Dissent; Cultural Encounters; and Place and Leisure. Your studies will range from poetry to string quartets, and from sculpture to short stories – across a wide variety of cultures and historical periods. This key introductory OU level 1 module is also a useful means of acquiring the key skills required for further study of arts and humanities subjects.

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OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module

Module code
AA100
Credits
60
Study level
OU SCQF FHEQ
1 7 4
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

The arts past and present is presented through four themed books:

Book 1: Reputations Why are some individuals famous? What is it about Cézanne’s paintings or Cleopatra’s life that makes them so well known? This book takes you from the distant past to the contemporary world to consider these questions in the light of the famous and the infamous. Case studies of significant figures (Cleopatra, Josef Stalin and the Dalai Lama) introduce subject-specific skills such as differentiating between primary and secondary sources, and understanding and interpreting varied points of view. This will enable you to develop an understanding of how we construct ideas of the past. Chapters on Christopher Marlowe and Paul Cézanne consider artistic reputation through the works that made them famous: Marlowe’s Dr Faustus, the absorbing, tragic story of the man who sells his soul to the devil; and Cézanne’s mysterious, beguiling paintings of bathers and the Mont St Victoire. You’ll acquire competencies in visual analysis and the critical reading of literary texts. A chapter on the musical Diva explores artistic reputation from a different perspective and investigates why some performers become famous. The same chapter also introduces varied musical repertoires and develops your close listening skills.

Book 2: Tradition and Dissent Tradition is a widely used word, particularly in academic contexts, but what do we mean by it? Why is it important to an understanding of the arts? What does it mean to dissent from tradition? This book provides some answers while extending the range of your skills. We begin with Laches, the work of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, which raises questions about how reliable tradition is as a source of knowledge. This is followed by discussion of tradition in relation to poetry, centred on an attractive anthology of poems about animals. Linked chapters explore religious dissent in England (including the cataclysmic story of the Reformation in England), and the gothic revival of the nineteenth century, concentrating on the work of the revolutionary architect Augustus Pugin. Ideas of tradition underpin the formation of nation states: by looking at the invention of tradition in Ireland, you’ll examine this historical process in action. Finally, you’ll listen to the string quartets of the controversial Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich, which raise fascinating questions about the importance of tradition to music and the extent that musical works might act as a form of political dissent.

Book 3: Cultural Encounters Cultural Encounters addresses questions that are pertinent both to the changing world we live in and to all arts subjects: what is the relationship between works of art and colonial history? To what extent can objects and texts be translated from one culture to another? There’s more interdisciplinary work in this part of the module. The book begins with linked chapters on the art of Benin – these are extraordinary sculptures from West Africa, which were taken by Britain and other European countries in the late nineteenth century. The chapters consider this encounter between Europe and Africa from both historical and art historical perspectives. The book continues by examining the philosophical tension between liberal ideas of inclusivity and the pressure for exemptions for minorities in contemporary society. You’ll then read a collection of modern short stories from around the world that explore the ways encounters between different cultures shape ideas of identity and belonging. These short stories are followed by an epic of the exchange of knowledge between cultures: the transmission of medical knowledge from Ancient Greece to the Arabian world and then back to medieval Europe. The book ends with another ancient text – Sophocles’s seminal tragedy, Antigone. You’ll study this play in the Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney’s 2004 translation, The Burial at Thebes. Cumulatively, these individual case studies enrich and complicate our sense of the interplay and exchange of ideas from one culture to another.

Book 4: Place and Leisure The final book explores ideas of place and leisure: how should we interpret sacred spaces or Roman villas? What is the meaning and history of leisure? As well as these thematic questions, the end of the module prompts you to consider what you’ve learnt and what you’ll want to study in the future. With AA100 as the basis for your studies, you will have a good grounding in a range of subjects and their methodologies. The book has two related concerns, outlined in the opening chapters. First we consider leisure as a philosophical issue: what is the purpose of life, and how does leisure fit into broader accounts of what its purpose should be? Secondly, we look at how we interpret the human environment, from ancient monuments through to twentieth-century cities, by interrogating what we mean by the idea of sacred space. These concerns are joined together by focusing on Roman ideas of leisure, both in the evidence of Latin literature and the archaeological remains of villas from across the Roman Empire. The module concludes with a multidisciplinary study of the seaside. This material combines social history of the development of the British seaside resort in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including work on the changing technologies and medical ideas that fostered seaside holidays, with analysis of different representations of the seaside phenomenon in film, music and visual art.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. If you are new to The Open University, you will find that your tutor is particularly concerned to help you with your study methods. Tuition will take place across a range of media: there will be group tutorials and day-schools which you are strongly encouraged to attend. Where tutorials are held depends on the distribution of students taking each module. There will also be online tutorials and there may be telephone tutorials.  

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Assessment is an essential part of the teaching, so you are expected to complete it all.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014 and February 2015.  We expect it to be available twice a year.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Course work includes:

7 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


Entry

This is a key introductory OU level 1 module. OU level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, to help you progress to modules at OU level 2.

As this module is a broad introduction to the study of the arts and humanities and to the University as a whole, no assumptions are made about the knowledge or education you bring to it. 

Successful completion of this module will equip you to go on to Voices, texts and material culture (A105) or any of the more specialised OU level 2 arts modules. By the end of AA100 you will be expected to be working successfully at the level required of first-year undergraduate students.  

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Preparatory work

If you have registered for the module and would like to prepare before the module start, see our Getting ready for AA100 website.

Register

Start End England fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015 £2632.00

Registration closes 11/09/14 (places subject to availability)

Register

The deadline for financial support applications has now passed

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015 £2632.00

Registration closes 08/01/15 (places subject to availability)

Register

You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

This module is expected to start for the last time in February 2019.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your annual fees and spreads them out over up to a year, enabling you to pay your fees monthly and walk away with a qualification without any further debt. APR 5.1% representative.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in 10 OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your modules.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

Gift vouchers

You can pay for part or all of your tuition fees with OU gift vouchers. Vouchers are currently available in the following denominations, £10, £20, £50 and £100. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. You may, for example wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or request a call back.


Note: Your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is based upon current details for  year 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015.
This information was provided on 02/09/2014.

You will need

CD player and DVD player (or a computer with DVD-ROM).

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module. It includes online activities – you can access using a web browser – and some module software provided on DVD.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer running Windows since 2008, or an Apple Mac (OS X 10.6 or later) or Linux computer, you should have no problems completing the computer-based activities.
  • A netbook, tablet or other mobile device is not suitable for this module – check our Technical requirements section.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information (including details of the support we provide).

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Prescott, Lynda (ed) A World of Difference: an anthology of short stories from five continents Palgrave Macmillan £11.99 - ISBN 9780230202085
  • Marlowe, Christopher: O'Conor, John (ed) Doctor Faustus the A text Longman £7.99 - ISBN 9780582817807
  • Muldoon, Paul (ed) The Faber Book of Beasts Faber and Faber £9.99 - ISBN 9780571195473
  • Heaney, Seamus (tr) The Burial at Thebes Faber and Faber £9.99 - ISBN 9780571223626

Other materials

  • Gurinder Chadha (Director) Bhaji on the Beach (Channel Four DVD) £15.99 This DVD can be bought for £10.99 delivered direct from the Channel4Shop at www.play.com. It is also available from internet and high street retailers

If you have a disability

The module makes use of DVDs containing detailed illustrations and floor plans. If you have severely impaired sight you might benefit from the help of a sighted assistant to access this material.  Written transcripts of any audio-visual components, Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material, and brief descriptions of key visual material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. The printed study materials are available in the DAISY Digital Talking Book format. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.