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.

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Unit Overview


This unit provides a broad historical framework that students can use to organise their thinking about (mainly) Western art from prehistoric periods to the present and to acquire essential art historical skills in the analysis of and argument about particular works, art movements and recurring themes. From anticipations of agrarian culture in prehistoric art, the unit follows changes in artistic sensibility and world outlook from classical Mediterranean societies to Christian medieval societies, the schism between religious and aesthetic outlooks during the Renaissance and Reformation periods, the advent of the Enlightenment and industrial society, and the impact of colonialism, revolution and modernisation on modernist and postmodernist art and architecture. The unit is distinct from introductory Level 1 units because it invites students to ask fundamental questions about its own structure. For example, do 'big picture' survey units provide an invaluable template for finding significance in major phases and examples of Western art and architecture, or are they reductive Eurocentric impositions upon a sea of changing data? The unit assumes that proficiency in 'new' art histories depends on understanding the structures of the 'old' art histories they challenge.

6 points
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) identify several key examples and contexts of Western art and architecture; (2) explain how works of art and architecture have mediated social and cultural meaning in many aspects of the globalised and culturally diverse environment in which our graduates will be living and working; (3) interpret innovation and recurrence in the material forms, methods of display, dissemination, reception and museology of Western art and architecture; (4) incorporate historicised analyses of key works into chronological narratives; (5) employ principles of argument in a range of art historical approaches to ensure good communication with appropriate audiences; and (6) outline some historiographical reasons for changes to survey courses on Western art and architecture.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) two essays and (2) tutorial participation. 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)
Winthrop Professor Richard Read
Unit rules
VISA1000 Great Moments in Art
or VISA1001 Art, Technology and Society
Advisable prior study
at least 6 points of Level 1 art history/theory units or equivalent
Contact hours
29 (lectures: 20 hrs
tutorials: 9 hrs)
Enrolled students can access unit material via the LMS (Learning Management System).
  • 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.