Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Symbolism and Secession: Aspects of Symbolism and the Vienna Secession HISTART4039

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Culture and Creative Arts
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will study the rise of Symbolism as an international phenomenon, with particular attention to its principal manifestations in Europe; and the Vienna Secession as a movement which had close connections with aspects of European Symbolism, whilst also developing a distinctive identity of its own.


1 x 1hr lecture; 1 x 1hr seminar per week over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in History of Art and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into History of Art, and by arrangement to visiting students or students who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses





Examination (120 minutes duration) - 60%

Essay (2,500 words) - 30%

Seminar presentation of 10 minutes accompanied by 800 word paper or PowerPoint slides - 10%

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:

■ identify and examine the principal features of European Symbolism and of the art of the Vienna Secession in their wider cultural, social and historical contexts

■ promote acquisition by students both of generic skills of critical and visual analysis

■ gain an understanding of an important area of 19th/early 20th- century Western art

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course student will be able to:

■ recognise the principal features of European Symbolist art, and of the art of the Vienna Secession, and distinguishing between the different manifestations of Symbolism in France, Belgium, the Low Countries, Britain, Austria, etc.

■ recognise and commenting critically on the styles, iconography and sources of artistic inspiration of leading Symbolist and Vienna Secessionist artists/designers, such as Puvis de Chavannes, Redon, Moreau, Gauguin, Klimt, Hoffmann

■ explain the nature and significance of key Symbolist/Vienna Secession ideals/concepts, e.g., the Gesamtkunstwerk; the Leitmotiv; richesse nĂ©cessaire, and the 'decorative';

■ identify and analyse key arguments in source texts by writers influential on Symbolism/the Vienna Secession (Baudelaire, Huysmans, Nietzsche, etc), and by period and modern writers about these movements (Fry, Rewald, Ziff, Schorske, Vergo, etc);

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.