MA Public Opinion and Political Behaviour
BA Curating, Heritage and Human Rights options

Year 2, Component 05

Art History option(s) from the list or outside option
Picturing the City I

Paris was THE capital of the nineteenth century, according to Walter Benjamin.  This module explores the city’s changing spaces and considers its residents, both bourgeois and avant-garde, who witnessed its exciting transformation into a modern capital.  It will examine how Parisians became a ‘spectacular’ society through the process of creating a city that was self-consciously modern.

After Impressionism: European Art From Van Gogh to Klimt

How did artists working at the turn of the twentieth century respond to the legacy of Impressionism as the quintessential art of modern life? We will attempt to discover what it really meant to be 'modern' in turn-of-the century Europe and how artists responded to the dramatic political, social and technological changes that we call modernisation.

Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art

How did our society decide what counts as ‘art’ and what is ‘culture’? Is there really such a thing as high vs low culture? What are the political stakes of these divisions? This module looks at the shift in ideas from ‘art history’ to visual and material cultural studies. This module will engage with these debates and teach you new methods for seeing, interpreting and understanding art, design, craft, performance, fashion, film and videogames. These new ways of seeing are often driven by new theoretical ideas , and allow us to look at culture to draw out new perspectives on social and political issues of activism and social change, sex, technology, police violence, migration, austerity and crisis, state surveillance, and our relation to animals and the environment.

Art and Power

This module examines the vibrant artistic culture of the Renaissance court, paying particular attention to gender. We will primarily study Italian courts and artists, though comparative material will include courts in Burgundy, France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire

Study Trip Abroad (Year 2)

As part of this module you have the opportunity to go on a 7-10 day study trip to a European City during which you will visit museums, key building and cultural sites in the city to see art from the Renaissance to the present. The School provide a subsidy for Art History students for this trip, but you will be responsible for covering any additional costs outside of this. Any students not on an Art History or ISC course will be required to cover their own costs. Costs will differ each year depending on the destination and details for the trip.

Contemporary Art: 1945 until Now
Art and Nature

This module aims at an understanding the problem of naturalism in Baroque art by seeing it in relation to broader transformations in the culture of Europe in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. We will study the work of major artists – including Caravaggio, Bernini, Velázquez, Poussin, Rubens, Rembrandt, and Vermeer - as well as others less well known. Topics examined through the lens of art and its relationship to nature will include: how artists negotiated the new demands placed on art by the Council of Trent; debates about the relative merits of naturalism and classicism; the evolving social status of the artist; theories of imitation and originality; the emergent art market in the Protestant Netherlands; the visual culture of the triumphant Catholic Church in Baroque Rome; the role of artists in the construction of a ruling identity.

Archives of Heritage
Heritage, Colonialism, Decolonisation
Social Entrepreneurs, Sustainability and Community Action

Did you know that the not-for-profit sector is expanding fast in the UK, and offers meaningful jobs that can contribute to positive social change and ecological sustainability? This module introduces you to this sector and the concept and practice of social entrepreneurship using case studies of initiatives that have helped local communities, disadvantaged people and the environment. It also gives you the opportunity to develop your skills and use your creativity and imagination to design your own project or enterprise.

The World in Question: The Social, Cultural, Political & Environmental Legacies of the Enlightenment

How have contemporary societies been shaped by the legacies of the Enlightenment, colonialism, and the different phases of capitalism? This interdisciplinary module helps you to critically understand some of the key forces and processes that have shaped the challenges we face in the 20th and 21st century. It is divided into three broad themes; Empire, The Self, and Nature. We’ll be examining processes of ‘othering’ that were intrinsic to colonialism; changing conceptions of the self; as well as both the causes of and potential solutions to the ecological crisis we are confronting today. The module is co-taught by academics from Art History, ISC, LiFTs, Philosophy, Psychoanalytic Studies and Sociology.

Doing Interdisciplinary Research for a BA Dissertation: Approaches, Methods, Practice

Thinking of doing a dissertation in your final year or research in your future career? Do you have a great idea for a topic that you wish to study in depth? This module will introduce you to qualitative research methods and will help you grasp the logic of research design. The short lectures, practical research exercises, and discussion will help you develop your own coherent research project. CS241 is a pre-requisite for the final year dissertation.

Public History Project

In this work-based learning module, you’ll work as part of a small team to deliver a real public history project that’s been commissioned by an external body, for example, a community group, local history society, charity, museum, archive or company. Outputs could include a small exhibition, website, podcast or pamphlet – but communicating the past can take almost any form! You’ll be able to bid to a dedicated funding pot to produce any materials you need (much like heritage organisations themselves do) and receive academic credit for it. You’ll be supported throughout by staff and have access to representatives of the commissioning organisation, gaining invaluable real-world experience to enhance your academic learning. It’s also really rewarding and enjoyable – a chance to take your interest in history and skills as a historian out of the university and into public spaces.

Climate Emergency: Narrating the Environment and Writing the Wild

This module offers an exploration of the extent of writing on the environment, on landscape and the natural world in a time of increasing awareness of a global climate emergency. A number of primary non-fiction and fiction texts will be selected for discussion in seminars. In addition there will be choice literatures of eco-critical writing and contemporary eco-political works such as the Peoples Manifesto for Wildlife and material by Extinction Rebellion. The course will extol the virtues of the outdoor classroom -- extending learning beyond the seminar walls to explore the nature of Wivenhoe Park and through a field trip. Students will be encouraged to extend their knowledge in multidisciplinary ways to enhance their ability to analyse and write literatures of the environment.

Freud: Mind, Culture and Society

What do you know about depth psychology? How do psychoanalysis and analytical psychology provide new understanding of society, culture and politics? Build your knowledge about depth psychology - psychological thinking that introduces the concept of a deep unconscious. Understand Freud’s theories and their significance in social and cultural analysis.

The Unconscious: Analytical Psychology, Culture and Society - Jung

What do you know about depth psychology? How do psychoanalysis and analytical psychology provide new understanding of society, culture and politics? Build your knowledge about depth psychology - psychological thinking that introduces the concept of a deep unconscious. Understand Jung’s theories and their significance in social and cultural analysis.

Rationalists and Empiricists

What is the nature and limits of human knowledge? Does our common-sense view of the world have a philosophical foundation? Does sensory experience provide the only path to knowledge of the world or can we gain knowledge through the exercise of pure reason? What role, if any, does God play in knowledge? What is the relation between the body and the mind? Do we know that the sun will rise tomorrow? Study the philosophical texts of the modern era that helped lay the conceptual foundations for these questions and others. We will begin with a close reading of Descartes' Meditations before exploring both rationalist (Spinoza and Leibniz) and empiricist (Locke and Hume) responses.

Philosophy and Religion

This module explores the relationship between religion and existentialism. For some key figures, existentialism takes “the death of God"" as its point of departure and never looks back. For these authors, existentialism represents an intrinsically atheistic philosophical outlook. Others, however, argue that the problems of existence that existentialism lays bare can only be overcome by a religious approach to life. We will explore this issue through a close reading of key texts in the tradition, which we will supplement by viewing and discussing two films inspired by the existentialist tradition.


This is a module in ethical theory rather than applied ethics – that is, it takes up theoretical questions about the status and justification of morality rather than addressing directly practical moral problems. The exact focus will vary from year-to-year. This year, we will investigate one of the most influential modern theories of ethics, Kant’s moral philosophy. While you might have had a chance to study some aspects of Kant’s view before, this term will be devoted to a focused critical reading of Kant’s ethical theory. We will investigate Kant’s conception of morality and his attempt to derive morality from his conception of freedom. Our texts will be Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and occasional selections from Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals.

Capitalism and its Critics

Since the financial crisis of 2008, the social consequences, moral status, and even long-term viability of capitalism have come under renewed scrutiny. Does it foster economic growth and protect individual freedom, as its proponents claim? Or is it a destructive system out of control, as its detractors argue? Should the market be given even freer rein? Or should capitalism be reformed and restricted? Or should it be abolished and replaced altogether? And, if so, what would replace it?

Topics in Analytic Philosophy

“Analytic Philosophy” is a (sometimes controversial) term commonly used to describe the dominant philosophical tradition in the English-speaking world from the early 20th century to present day. We will explore prominent themes and authors within this tradition. The focus will vary year-on-year; examples include topics from analytic philosophy of mind and metaphysics (the mind-body problem; personal identity; consciousness and “qualia”…) and topics from analytic philosophy of language (what is meaning? How do names and descriptions refer to objects? Does context make a difference to the meaning of what we say, and does what we say shape the context in return?...)

Ancient Philosophy

Discover Ancient Greek philosophy and read some of the most influential works in the history of Western Philosophy. In this module we focus on Plato and Aristotle, exploring how ethics, political philosophy, epistemology, metaphysics and psychology are all intertwined. The course begins with an overview of philosophy before Socrates and ends with a short exploration of the philosophical schools that flourished in the Roman empire.

Modern Social and Political Thought

The module will give you a deeper understanding of our intellectual and socio-political history, as well as a more profound perspective on the still active debates stemming from the positions taken by these philosophers – principally, concerning the nature of freedom, power, and democracy, and the role of the state. Questions we will be considering include: What is political authority? Why prefer democracy over other forms of political organisation? What is freedom and is freedom compatible with being a subject of a state? Is inequality an inevitable consequence of society? We will analyse critically the different answers given to these questions by Hobbes, Spinoza and Rousseau, and consider whether their philosophical accounts of the state and society provide us with a useful means of engaging with contemporary social and political issues.

Critical Theory

This module introduces students to different traditions of “Critical Theory”. Critical Theory, a tradition associated with the Frankfurt School but also embodied by wider radical traditions, aims to reflect critically and holistically on society and the role of the theorist within it in order to tackle oppressions and the ideological forms of thought that underpin them, and thus to contribute to projects of emancipation.

Race, Class and Gender

What are the problems with class analysis? And how can you understand citizenship rights? Are they useful for analysing inclusion and exclusion, how do they relate to gender, and where does migration fit into the picture? Build your understanding of race, class and gender by learning more about how these concepts relate to social inequality, rights and identity.

Race, Class and Gender

What are the problems with class analysis? And how can you understand citizenship rights? Are they useful for analysing inclusion and exclusion, how do they relate to gender, and where does migration fit into the picture? Build your understanding of race, class and gender by learning more about how these concepts relate to social inequality, rights and identity.

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