Past Futures: Time and Temporality in Contemporary Art HISTART4084

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • 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

Short Description

This course is about contemporary art and the ways in which leading artists make the themes of time and temporality key aspects of their work. It introduces a number of influential practitioners, including artists such as Gerard Byrne, Tacita Dean, Sharon Hayes and Simon Starling, and offers case studies of selected works. It also draws on a set of critical and theoretical tools that build knowledge and understanding of the larger themes, and connect them to philosophical, political and social debates.


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 of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses





Artwork analysis (500 words) - 10%

Essay (2,000 words) - 30%

Examination (120 minutes duration) - 60%

Main Assessment In: April/May

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:

■ develop students' understanding of contemporary art practice

■ introduce critical concepts from a range of disciplines which enable detailed understanding of the theme of time in relation to contemporary art

■ support the acquisition of critical skills which will inform independent work (including dissertation) and study at Honours level more generally

■ connect curatorial and critical work in the field of contemporary art with teaching in History of Art.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ identify and discuss a range of contemporary artworks by leading international artists

■ write detailed case study analyses of individual works of art

■ critically evaluate key perspectives on the theme of time

■ apply in essays key concepts of temporality and to use these in the analysis of contemporary artworks

■ evaluate the temporality of the contemporary period in political and social terms

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.