Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


From Degas' selfies to Warhol's serials, photography has reshaped artistic practice since the nineteenth century. This unit investigates how artists have deployed photography as an observational tool and expressive medium since the first creation of the fixed image. By analysing a diverse range of global photographic practices from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present day, the unit charts how the photograph changed the artistic discourse surrounding mimesis and visual representation. The history of photography reveals a persistent debate concerning the truth-value of the photographic image, and this unit examines how artists have explored and challenged the idea of the photograph as a form of documentary evidence. The photograph is much more than a mechanical capture of a moment, and this class considers how artists construct, manipulate, and market photographs as forms of representation. In the photographic realm, what differentiates an artist from an amateur? What is the role of artifice in the art photograph? How has photography responded to and changed the global art market? Through exposure to a wide range of photographic methods and artists, students learn how art historians critically discuss, contextualise and analyse photographs.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 option in the History of Art major sequence
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) identify specific photographs and photographers from a diverse range of cultures, dating from the nineteenth century to the present day; (2) understand the technical and social processes of photography and their impact on the interpretation of photographic images in an age of globalisation; (3) differentiate between the interpretation of photographs as empirical evidence and as art; (4) apply various methods of historical and theoretical discourse to the interpretation of photographs in a written essay; and (5) use oral communication skills to discuss and debate various interpretations of photographic images.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) short essay; (2) long essay; and (3) discursive learning. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Emily Brink
Unit rules
HART1000 Great Moments in Art (formerly VISA1000)
or HART1003 Ways of Seeing: Themes and Theories in Art
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week
tutorials: 1 hour per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.