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BA (Honours) Art History and Visual Cultures - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

This degree aims to:
  • equip you with the knowledge and critical skills to understand the historical and contemporary importance of visual, material and spatial cultures and contexts.
  • demonstrate how cultural values are produced, maintained and contested, comparing diverse historical and geographical settings.
  • foster an awareness of the field’s relationship with professional contexts, including the arts and heritage sector, and commercial and policy contexts.
  • build your confidence in the transferable skills of visual literacy, critical thinking, communication and the analysis, interpretation and presentation of evidence.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this degree, you will have knowledge and understanding of the:

  • visual, material and spatial cultures of more than one geographical region, and in both the past and the present, demonstrating a broad and comparative knowledge.
  • ways in which cultural values are produced, maintained and contested, including the historic contingency of concepts of 'art', 'design' and ‘architecture’, and the limitations and partiality of such terms when explored across diverse geographical and historical settings.
  • established concepts, values and debates of the discipline, informed by current thinking and theoretical and methodological developments and tools.
  • historical, cultural and personal contexts in which cultural artefacts, sites and media have been produced and interpreted.
  • field’s relationship with professional contexts, including the arts and heritage sector, and commercial and policy contexts.

Cognitive skills

On completion of this degree, you will be able to:

  • deploy appropriate techniques of analysis: the ability to break down an argument, a task or a body of evidence, and deal effectively with its component parts.
  • synthesis and summarisation: effectively bringing together evidence and ideas from different sources, while identifying and presenting key elements of an argument.
  • critical judgement: discriminating between alternative arguments and approaches.
  • problem solving: applying knowledge and experience so as to make appropriate decisions in complex and incompletely charted contexts.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this degree, you will be able to:

  • communicate: produce assignments containing reasoned argument and adequately weighed evidence in response to a specific question.
  • improve your own performance: improve own learning process by acting on pedagogic advice and feedback.
  • employ digital methods and frameworks: demonstrate an ability to adopt a range of digital practices, tools and resources appropriate to the subject.
  • conduct research: demonstrate the capacity for critical, effective and testable information retrieval and organisation.
  • maintain open-mindedness: be open and receptive to people, places and ideas – new things, unfamiliar arguments, cultural artefacts, sites and media.

Key skills

On completion of this degree, you will be able to demonstrate your skills in:

  • literacy and confidence, engaging with a range of visual, material and spatial materials and contexts.
  • time management and personal initiative: work to briefs and deadlines.
  • self-reflection and responsibility: to reflect on one’s own learning.
  • transferable approaches and perspectives: to appreciate the transfer of learning about art history and visual culture to sectors and contexts beyond academia.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

In this degree a range of assessment types is used. The tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) may take the form of essays, extended essays, short-answer questions or drafts of independent work, depending on the module and the level. For example, you are more likely to be asked to complete an extended essay based on independent study at OU level 3 than at OU level 2. The examinable component may take the form of an examination or a project or dissertation or other piece of independent research.