From Decorative Arts to Material Culture (V4005)

30 credits, Level 6

Spring teaching

This module considers the traditional categorisations of the arts into 'fine' and 'decorative' and how this distinction has characterised scholarly approaches to them. Art history's recent engagement with methodologies from the field of material culture has revived interest in objects that had been relegated to the ranks of 'applied art', revealing original contexts and functions that had previously been overlooked. You will explore how the relationship between different art forms was conceived in the past, investigate the range of methods used by art historians to study art objects, and consider how these categories have informed their display in museums.

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 36 hours of contact time and about 264 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: