Course Outline: Year Two - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Course Outline: Year Two

Search for:

BA (Hons) History of Art

Course Outline: Year Two



Course Outline: Year Two

Year Two

During the second year you will be introduced to more specialised investigations and encouraged to further develop your critical thinking. You will start to take increasing responsibility for your own independent learning.  Year Two comprises three main components:

  • A Frameworks for Interpretation lecture series, which runs throughout Autumn and Spring term.
  • Two Constellation Courses (one in the Autumn and one in the Spring Term).
  • 4,000 word assessed essay on a topic of the student’s choice.

Full details of these components, and their weighting towards your overall Year Two grade, are outlined below.

Please note: You will be expected to allocate a minimum of 34 hours per week to study in Year Two (inclusive of pre-assigned contact hours, class preparation, and informally-assessed essay and presentation research and writing) during the Autumn and Spring terms. Study hours in the Summer term will vary.

Frameworks for Interpretation: Overview

Frameworks for Interpretation offers a critical introduction to some of the key methodologies (such as biography, taxonomy, formalism, iconology, psychoanalysis, etc.) that inform art-historical interpretation.

Because the methodologies are quite complex, teaching delivery of this course alternates each week between a lecture and a seminar class, the latter helping you deepen your understanding and embed the learning. This means that for each key methodology, 2 x 1 hour lectures are given in the first week, to introduce you to the key concepts and debates, followed by one 2 hour seminar in the following week, which allows you the opportunity for thorough examinations of the key texts and objects of study. There are 18 lectures in total, and 8 seminars in total for this course.

A full reading list is shared with you at the start of each term, which contains all compulsory texts which you are expected to read before each lecture and seminar, as well as suggestions for recommended reading. You should estimate about 3-4 hours of reading time for each lecture and seminar class.

Please note that Frameworks for Interpretation seminar classes are led by Teaching Assistants, while lectures are delivered by members of Faculty. The course’s content tends to remain quite consistent each year, but might be subject to change based on a lecturer’s specialisms. 

An indicative timetable and list of lecture titles can be found here, based on 2017/18. The timetable and list of lecture titles will be finalised and distributed to you during your first week post-enrolment.

Frameworks for Interpretation: Assessment

  • Informal assessment: You will complete various presentations, essays and other assignments throughout the Autumn and Spring terms as part of the informal assessment in this module. The titles and deadlines of all tasks will be shared with you along with your reading list at the start of each term.

(All assignments will be reviewed by the same Teaching Assistant who has led your seminar classes, and she or he will offer written and or verbal feedback on them. These assignments do not contribute directly towards your final Year Two grade, but completion of this is a compulsory element of the module, used to help consolidate and embed key learnings, improve critical writing technique and aid your revision for the examination in the Summer term).

  • Formal assessment: One 3-hour examination comprises 50% of the formal assessment for this module. The other 50% comprises a 2,500-word essay, which is an assessed essay not written under timed conditions, but submitted in term time to a pre-agreed deadline.

Constellation Courses: Overview                                 

You will take two Constellation Courses (one in the Autumn term and one in the Spring term). These courses are designed to investigate Art History through examination of a specific historical moment, a geographic region and/or an artistic medium. They will offer you both rich explorations of individual artists, art works and spaces, and opportunities to question art-historical tropes and trajectories.

Each course comprises, in turn, two elements: a lecture course and a seminar course.

  • The Constellation lecture courses are normally taught by members of Courtauld Faculty in the form of two 1.5-hour sessions per week in a combined lecture and discussion format.
  • The Constellation seminar courses take the form of 2-hour weekly seminars normally led by Associate Lecturers. These courses cover material which is related to the theme of the lecture courses.

The Courtauld is currently offering three Constellation course options in each of the Autumn and Spring terms, covering a broad range of chronological periods, geographical regions, and as far as possible a spread of media (painting, architecture, etc.). An indicative list of Constellation course titles, based on those which ran in 2017/18, can be found here.

A full reading list is shared with you at the start of each term, which contains all compulsory texts which you are expected to read before each lecture and each seminar class, as well as suggestions for recommended reading. You should estimate a total of about 6 hours of reading time per week to cover the reading  for both the lecture and the seminar courses.

Please note: the specific content which makes up the Constellation courses varies year on year. You will be invited to state your preferences for which Constellation courses you would like to study. We do our best to accommodate your preferences, whilst ensuring that seminar-class sizes remain small, and that the courses you select are in a different art historical period from those studied in your Year One Topic courses, to ensure that you are continuing to build a broad knowledge of History of Art at large.

An indicative timetable and list of lecture/seminar titles can be found here, based on 2017/18. The timetables and lecture lists for 2018/19 will be finalised and distributed to you during your first week post-enrolment.

Constellation Courses: Assessment

  • Informal assessment: You should expect each Constellation seminar to be informally assessed by 4 pieces of written and oral work.
  • Formal assessment: Each Constellation course will be formally assessed by one 3-hour examination in January (to assess the Autumn-term Constellation course) and one 3-hour examination in June (the Spring-term Constellation course).

Assessed Essay (4,000 words): Overview

The assessed essay is an opportunity for you to identify and focus on a topic of particular interest to them, and write a 4,000-word essay with the support of a supervisor who is either a Faculty member or an Associate Lecturer. The purpose is to prepare you with the independent research and writing skills required for your assessed essay in Year Three. As this is likely to be the first time you are embarking on an independent piece of research of this nature, we restrict potential supervisors to tutors involved with the delivery of Year Two teaching.

With guidance from your personal tutor and Head of Department (in a special meeting convened in the Autumn term), you will seek out their own supervisor. Note: this should be done early as tutors may only supervise a certain number of students, and will often approve final topics on a first-come first-serve basis. Together with the supervisor, you negotiate a meeting schedule with a view to the deadlines for registering an essay topic and submitting the essay itself. Both deadlines are shared with you at the start of the academic year.

You are allowed one introductory meeting with your supervisor to talk through the scope and proposed structure/contents of your essay, and receive advice. You will then submit a draft of the essay to your supervisor, and receive both written and verbal feedback in another one-to-one session.

Assessed Essay (4,000 words): Assessment

  • Formal assessment: Assessment will be in the form of the submitted 4,000-word essay.

Academic Skills sessions: Overview

You will have 0.5 hours of study skills sessions per week which will directly follow on from one of the lectures in your schedule. Full details of this will be available to them when you receive your timetable at the beginning of term.

Year Two – Course Unit Breakdown

Year Two assessment contributes 25% towards your overall degree grade and classification. You will need to pass the year (obtain a grade of 35% or above in each of the modules) in order to progress to Year Three. Year Two modules are weighted and assessed in the following ways:






Total credits

Total % contribution to final degree grade



Constellation Course Autumn

Constellation Course Spring

Assessed Essay



Assessment method

Examination essays (1 x 3-hour) (50%) & Coursework essay 1 x 2,500 words (50%) 

Examination essays (1 x 3-hour exam)

Examination essays (1 x 3-hour exam)

Coursework essay (1 x 4,000 words)




40 (33.3%)

30 (25%)

30 (25%)

20 (16.6%)

120 (100%)


TOTAL = 120 Credits = 100% of BA2/ 25% of overall grade


Share This

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Close