Postgraduate taught 

Art History: Technical Art History, Making & Meaning MLitt

Art in the Making: Modern & Avant-Garde Techniques HISTART5093

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Culture and Creative Arts
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

The aim of this course is to present students with an in-depth and sophisticated understanding of the interrelation of materials, concepts and processes across a modern range of artworks, covering avant-garde approaches particular to the 20th and 21st centuries. Key examples will be studied through lectures which will establish theoretical and historical context. Practical workshops in the reconstruction, remaking or re-enacting of artworks, and in technical examination techniques will develop the ability of the student to interpret and critically evaluate interdisciplinary material.


Lectures/seminars - 2.5 hours weekly for 10 weeks (including one 2.5 hour taught seminar study visit)


Workshops and supervised laboratory/studio sessions including: reconstructions of techniques and materials, analytical methods used in the identification of materials within the context of technical art history: 25 hours (composition below).


Pigment workshop (1 x 3 hour session, 1 x 1 hour session on two consecutive days)

Laboratory/ studio sessions on analytical techniques FTIR, XRF, RAMAN, HPCL, (4 x 3 hour sessions)


Workshops making reconstructions (3 x 3 hour sessions)

Excluded Courses



Essay 80% 4,000 words

Presentation 20% 10 minutes

Course Aims

This course aims to:


■ Provide the student with detailed knowledge of artistic techniques and materials across a range of modern, avant-garde and contemporary artistic practice and to provide a theoretical and historical context for understanding such techniques, materials and modes of making.

■ Provide students with sophisticated knowledge of key interpretative approaches to the material, technical, phenomenological and performative particularities of artworks.

■ Critically address the ways in which traditional notions of artistic practice have been challenged and reworked by the modern and postmodern avant-gardes.

■ Develop students' abilities in dealing with artists' writings and other technical sources as primary material.

■ Encourage self-reflexive 'deep' learning through engagement with artistic materials, and with critical texts, as well as through participation in seminar discussions, and use of Moodle web-forums.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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


■ Describe and discuss a range of techniques and materials used by artists across the historical range covered by the course.

■ Discuss the work of relevant artists in detailed and apposite terms (in seminar discussions and in written work).

■ Apply knowledge of historical changes in artistic practice to the question of the ontology of the artwork, and related ideas of material and semiotic 'authenticity'.

■ Utilise key philosophical and theoretical concepts to elucidate the issues at stake in historical changes to the relationship between artist, materials, artwork, and viewer.

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.