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.

Dada and Surrealism (20 Credits) HISTART4088

  • 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 examines Dada and Surrealism, two hugely influential international art movements of the twentieth century, and will focus not only on the links between them in terms of their membership and artistic concerns, but also on establishing key differences in their approaches to social and political change and their ideological and philosophic positions. The course will include the study of a diverse range of Dada and Surrealist practices including: collage and photomontage; literary texts and publishing; chance and found objects; live performance; film; and photography.


1hr lecture and 1hr seminar a week, over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into MA 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

HISTART4079 Publishing The Avant-Garde: A History Of Artists' Books And Magazines From 1900 To 1970




Essay (2000 words) - 50%

Exam (2 hours) - 50%

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. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will 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 aims to:


■ Introduce students to the influential twentieth-century art movements of Dada and Surrealism and their historical, political, theoretical, and cultural contexts.

■ Consider the importance of individual artists' engagement and experimentation with Dada and Surrealist techniques and how these related to the movements' wider theoretical and ideological beliefs.

■ Assess the significance and legacy of the Dada and Surrealist movements in relation to themes of race, gender, and sexuality.

■ Provide an opportunity for visual analysis of a broad range of art works and discussion of critical texts and theories relating to Dada and Surrealism.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Analyse the revolutionary ideals which drove key innovations in art making of Dada and Surrealist artists in the early decades of the twentieth century

■ Explain key developments in the chronological scope of Dada and Surrealism and of the central philosophical and ideological tenets informing these movements.

■ Visually analyse a broad range of artworks and adapt art-historical methods to the study of examples including publications; photography, performance; collage; found objects and readymades.

■ Apply the capacity to research, structure and present their written and verbal arguments and methodological positions independently.

■ Think critically about Dada and Surrealism and to analyse and assess individual artworks and wider strategies of art making and display verbally and in writing.

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.