Art Criticism - HART5950

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Autumn Term 6 30 (15) Jonathan Friday checkmark-circle


This module explores the history, theory and practice of arts criticism. Although critical practice related to all art forms may feature, the emphasis will be upon the visual arts, and in particular, the pictorial arts, sculpture and installation. The lectures will address the aims and methods of art criticism, as well as the media and professional contexts in which it is produced. Seminars will be devoted to exploring the connections between theory and concrete examples of art criticism produced by noted critics. Students will produce a portfolio of their own art critical reviews of works, exhibitions and related art events. The emphasis of this practical component will be the production of art criticism that meets standards and expectations of general and specialist newspapers, magazines and websites.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 58
Total private study hours: 242
Total module study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Written Assignment 1: Portfolio (4,000 words) (70%)
Written Assignment 2: Reflective Essay (2000 words) (30%)

Indicative reading

Carroll, N. (2009), On Criticism, London: Routledge
Frost, C. (2019), Art Criticism: A History, Canterbury: Gylphi
Ross, S. (2020) Two Thumbs Up, Chicago: Chicago University Press
Williams, G. (2014), How to Write About Contemporary Art, London: Thames and Hudson

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

- Distinguish, explain and evaluate differing approaches to, and styles of, visual arts criticism
- Demonstrate an understanding of the history of visual arts criticism, and the different contexts in which it is produced.
- Produce short pieces of criticism in response to current exhibitions and related events that meet the standards and conditions various publishers set for their critics.
- Understand the interplay between visual arts criticism and visual arts culture through research into relevant scholarly literature.
- Critically reflect upon and evaluate the art criticism produced by themselves and others.

In addition to more developed understanding and abilities, Level 6 students will also be able to:

- Demonstrate an advanced ability to synthesise ideas and concepts within the theory of criticism with art historical knowledge and understanding
- Make connections to other material learned over the previous two years of study of the arts.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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