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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 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

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
60
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
OU SCQF FHEQ
1 7 4
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See 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’ 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 us 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 arts past and present starts twice a year – in February and October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018 and February 2019 when we expect it to start for the last time.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations 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 requirements

    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 speak to an adviser.

    Preparatory work

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

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    26 Jan 2019 Sep 2019 £2928.00

    Registration closes 10/01/19 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    February 2019 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    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 monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

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

    Employer sponsorship

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

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module 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 module.  

    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. 

    Mixed payments

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


    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time convenient to you.


    Please 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 valid for modules starting before 31 July 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 14/12/2018.

    What's included

    The study materials include a Study Companion, the assignment booklet, the four main module books and the attendant DVDs and CDs.

    You will need

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

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided from a hardware device e.g. DVD drive or USB stick or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • Mac OS 10.7 or higher
    • a modern Linux version

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    Materials to buy

    Set books

    • Muldoon, P. (ed) The Faber Book of Beasts Faber and Faber £9.99 - ISBN 9780571195473
    • Heaney, S. (trans.) The Burial at Thebes Faber and Faber £9.99 - ISBN 9780571223626
    • Marlowe, C.: O'Connor, J. (ed) Doctor Faustus: The A Text Pearson Longman £10.99 - ISBN 9780582817807
    • Prescott, L. (ed) A World of Difference: An Anthology of Short Stories from Five Continents Palgrave Macmillan £14.50 - ISBN 9780230202085

    Other materials

    • Gurinder Chadha (Director) Bhaji on the Beach DVD Channel Four Films £15.99 This DVD is available from high street or internet retailers, or by searching on www.find-dvd.co.uk.

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying AA100 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.