Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit

Unit rationale, description and aim

The seismic social, economic and religious upheavals that underpin the trajectories of Western culture and the birth of the modern age can clearly be traced through the grand sweep of visual art evident from the Renaissance to the Romantic period in Western culture (1300-1850) in both Europe and its many colonial places. The re-emergence of Classical ideals in Renaissance art and architecture, the violent revolutions, shifts in philosophical ideas, scientific discoveries and the global expansion of Empires will be examined. There will also be a focus on the rise of the individual as a central core in the fabric of humanist and liberal traditions with their emphasis on freedom in the aesthetic histories of a period filled with psychological tensions, power struggles, grand narratives and political intrigue. The aim of this unit is to introduce students to the rich history of visual art and architecture which is the basis of both the modern and contemporary visual cultures, enhancing and deepening students' knowledge in their chosen professions.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify the main tenets and stylistic variations of art movements during the period (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO2 -  Explain the complex relationship between art and the socio-historical and political context in which it is produced (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8)

LO3 -  Critically analyse major historical events and technological advances which led to major shifts in art practices during the period (GA4, GA8)

LO4 - Communicate coherently in a range of critical and/or creative forms (GA4, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - Demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA4 - Think critically and reflectively

GA5 - Demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession

GA6 - Solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - Locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information

GA9 - Demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media


Topics will include:

  • Renaissance perspective and Neo-Platonism.
  • Symbolism within Northern Renaissance painting.
  • Reformation and counter reformation.
  • Mannerism in Italy.
  • Baroque architecture and design.
  • The French Rococo and the celebration of decorative frivolity.
  • Neoclassical period.
  • Enlightenment ideology and the exploration of ‘freedom’.
  • Romanticism and the rise of the Individual.
  • Revisiting the contributions of women painters outside the Academies: Artemesia Gentileschi, Sofonisba Anguissola and others.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit embraces active learning strategies and is designed to provide students with a foundational knowledge of the academic discipline of art and design history and theory. Students will have the opportunity to build their practical skills and discipline knowledge which will be consolidated and extended in the higher level art history and theory units in this course.

A range of learning and teaching strategies are incorporated into this unit, including formal lectures, seminars, group activities and films. Online learning resources, guided readings, games and discussions enhance the learning resources. The seminar classes are designed to produce interactive learning with discussion interspersed with reflection on primary and secondary sources that enliven an appreciation of historical events. Formal lectures and seminars will be used to model visual analysis techniques, research skills and communication strategies. Online learning, guided reading, and discussions support the development of research and other skills which fundamentally underpin the creative industries, such as an understanding of the relationship between historical and contemporary practices and the capacity to enhance creative, critical and reflective thinking.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a pass standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities provided.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessments have been designed to provide students with a variety of tasks in which they are able to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes. Students will study key areas that are essential for the history of art and architecture: visual analysis and the relevant historical movements; the relationship between cultural production and the context in which it is made; and, the development of critical thinking, research and academic writing skills.

In the textual tasks, students will have the opportunity to develop their knowledge of the period through discussion of shifts in cultural values, technologies and society in general. The visual analysis assessment consolidates fundamental skills in reading visual texts and the identification of key movements in modernism. The essay assessment requires students to build on their developing knowledge of key concepts in art history and to research primary and secondary texts to support an argument in a formal essay. This assessment focuses on the development of critical academic skills that are crucial supports for further study. The visual analysis assessment consolidates fundamental skills in reading visual texts and the identification of key movements in modernism.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Critical Textual Exercise

To allow students to develop an awareness of art practices developed in the rapidly changing period between 1300 and 1850.


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Image Analysis Exercise

To allow students to demonstrate the core skills of visual analysis and the identification of key movements during the period.


LO3, LO4

GA4, GA8, GA9

Major Essay

To allow students to demonstrate research skills and a critical approach to the relationship between art making in its socio-historical context whilst developing scholarly writing and referencing skills.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Amstutz, N. (2016). Romanticism and the visual arts. The German Quarterly, 89(3), 357–360.

Anderson, C. (2013). Renaissance architecture. Oxford University Press.

Bailey, G. A. (2019). Baroque & Rococo. Phaidon.

Campbell, G. (2021). The Oxford illustrated history of the Renaissance. Oxford University Press.

Bohn, B., & Saslow, J. M. (2013). A companion to Renaissance and Baroque art. Wiley-Blackwell.

Carl, K., & Charles. V (2009). Baroque art. Parkstone International.

Charles, V. (2014). French painting. Parkstone International.

Murray, L. (1991). The High Renaissance and Mannerism. Thames and Hudson.

Palmer, A. L. (2011). Historical dictionary of Neoclassical art and architecture. Scarecrow Press.

Reichardt, R., & Kohle, H. (2008). Visualizing the Revolution politics and pictorial arts in late eighteenth-century France. Reaktion.

Sanger, A. E., & Walker, S. T. K. (2012). Sense and the senses in early modern art and cultural practice. Ashgate.

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