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.

Setting the Scene HISTART4082

  • 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

The course explores the inter-relationships, influences and boundaries, real or imagined, of both the scene as evoked by the theatre set, and the exterior world. The course will examine the social, political and artistic influences on the people that shape both worlds using paintings, set designs, costume designs, play texts, documents and the people themselves. The course will draw upon material from Special Collections/ The Hunterian/ Private Collections/ Archives and working Theatres.


1 x 2hr 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.


2 x 5hr workshops with professional, theatre, design and scenic art practitioners. 

Requirements of Entry

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

Excluded Courses





Essay (3,500 words) - 75%

Oral Presentation (10 minutes) - 25%

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

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

The course aims to:

■ provide students with knowledge of set design and scenography in the history of theatre and visual arts.

■ explore the role of the set designer and scenic artist in relation to political, cultural and social milieus in the history of theatre production, introducing students to the wider social, economic and political history specific to both theatre and art historical practices.

■ develop students' knowledge of historical instances of collaboration between scenic artists and theatre practitioners through critical analysis and engagement with a variety of source types.

■ provide students with the opportunity to develop object based enquiry methods by interacting with theatre and technical art history collections.

■ provide students with creative industry experience via engagement with professional theatre, design, and scenic art practitioners.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ critically evaluate primary and secondary sources on scenography and the history of stage design and production.

■ evaluate material culture applicable to both theatre studies and art history.

■ identify and assess key events, people and trends that impact the development of theatre and visual art.

■ present this knowledge and understanding in oral and written form according to established scholarly conventions and appropriate to an honours level.

■ apply a holistic approach to the study of their discipline.

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.