Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Methods and Materials for Art Historians
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Folio of Artworks  Folio containing at least one artwork resulting from each practical.  50%
Semester Assessment Workshop journal, 2000 words plus bibliography  Journal documenting practical sessions: hand-written notes and a typed summary. Bibliography to include secondary prints, sources and documented illustrations related to the practical projects  50%
Supplementary Assessment Resit folio of artworks  Folio containing at least one artwork resulting from each practical.  50%
Supplementary Assessment Resit workshop journal  Journal documenting practical sessions: hand-written notes and a typed summary. Bibliography to include secondary prints, sources and documented illustrations related to the practical projects  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

identify the means of production, qualities of mark and creative potential of specific media;

describe and examine artists’ use of materials and techniques;

engage in informed discussion about an artist’s technical achievements;

demonstrate a sure handling of technical terminology;

apply powers of observation and interpretative skills to make and appraise works of art;

put into practice the techniques they have learned.

Brief description

This module, examining the techniques, materials and tools of the artist’s trade has been designed specifically for art historians. Through lectures, demonstrations, workshops and practicals, it aims to provide insight into how artworks are made. It offers a practical introduction to commonly encountered materials and techniques, studies current practice as well as historical development, and considers some of the more radical changes in conventions.
Through hands-on experience, and studying original examples from the School of Art Museum collections, students will learn to identify and analyse a wide range of artists’ materials and techniques.
The production of art objects and their appearance are conditional not only upon the societal changes and taste, but also dependent upon technological and scientific developments. Research in the fields of medicine, optics, chemistry and mathematics, for example, have each contributed to innovations in the production of art. Artists have long recognised and exploited the creative potential of new materials, processes and ideas emanating from developments completely independent of art practice.
Since artists’ methods and materials contribute significantly to the appearance of art objects, artists conceive ideas especially for a process. They choose specific materials to help them realise an idea. During the twentieth century, technique often became the content.
An understanding of the specific qualities of mark peculiar to each medium, its limitations and creative potential, helps the student of art history to appreciate, interpret and reflect upon an artist’s achievements in more informed ways. Insights only made possible through hands-on experience also help extend students’ vocabulary when describing artworks.
Aberystwyth is unique among British universities for delivering a practical component as part of the training of art historians. The School of Art is rare in that we teach art history in an environment where art is also made and curated. Mindful of the career prospects of our graduates, this module provides valuable practical experience and vocational skills for those who seek employment in museums, auction houses, art galleries and in arts administration.


Lectures followed by practicals, demonstrations and workshops which take place in discipline-specific rooms in the School of Art.
Week 1
Introduction [Lecture, 1 hour]
Week 2
Intaglio Printmaking [Lecture, Workshop, 1 hour]
Making an Etching [Practical, 3 hours]
Week 3
Relief Printmaking [Lecture, Workshop, 1 hour]
Printing an Etching [Practical, 3 hours]
Week 4
Ways of Drawing [Lecture, Workshop, 1 hour]
Making a Woodcut [Practical, 3 hours]
Week 5
Digital Imaging [Lecture, Workshop, 1 hour]
Printing a Woodcut [Practical, 3 hours]
Week 6
The Life Class [Lecture, Workshop, 1 hour]
Digital Imaging [Practical, 3 hours]
Week 7
Taking Photographs [Lecture, Workshop, 1 hour]
Life Drawing [Practical, 3 hours]
Week 8
Creative Thinking and Making [Lecture, Workshop, 1 hour]
Printing Photographs [Practical, 3 hours]
Week 9
Oil Painting Techniques [Lecture, Workshop, 1 hour]
Creative Making [Practical, 3 hours]
Week 10
Painting a Still Life [Practical, 3 hours, 1 hour]

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Articulating ideas through practicals discussions and workshops, as well as academic writing skills in the Workshop Journal.
Improving own Learning and Performance Independent study through practical assignments, research and preparation.
Information Technology Information retrieval from various academic research portals and online museum collection databases. Digital imaging using Photoshop.
Personal Development and Career planning Emphasis on professional presentation of research and annotated bibliography using MLA style documentation.
Problem solving In practicals preparation and discussion, Workshop Journal research and writing.
Research skills In practicals preparation, bibliography and Workshop Jounral research and writing.
Subject Specific Skills Insights only made possible through hands-on experience of methods and materials to help extend students’ understanding and vocabulary when describing artworks.
Team work In workshops and practicals.


This module is at CQFW Level 5