AH40160 Approaches to Art History: Resources and Methods

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module prepares students for the research and writing of the dissertation, and explores advanced topics in art historical methodology. In writing histories of art, scholars rely on a multitude of approaches—philosophical and theoretical—as well as varied source material. How have narratives of art’s history been shaped, challenged and re-formed within our discipline? What are the crucial concepts and debates that have impacted upon its contemporary form? In this seminar we will focus on improving critical awareness and fluency with a range of methodologies, with the aim of refining individual students’ own research practice and writing. From a practical perspective, we will explore the experience of research, discussing worthwhile strategies and potential pitfalls. This module is seminar-based, and a high level of student participation and engagement is expected.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

The primary objectives of the Approaches module include: selection of a topic for the MA thesis; introduction to research methodologies appropriate for advanced art-historical research; development of writing and presentation skills; preparation of a research proposal; discussion about the process and experience of advanced research. The module will be assessed via an oral presentation on a proposed research topic, and the submission of a formal research proposal which provides the framework for the dissertation. In addition, you will be expected to prepare readings and assignments for each seminar.

Indicative Module Content:

Week 1.
Orientation and review of syllabus

Week 2.
The Discipline of Art History
Managing images
Resources 1: visit to National Irish Visual Arts Library

Week 3.
Approaches in Architectural History
Methods and resources
Resources 2: visit to Irish Architectural Archive

Week 4.
UCD library
Databases, search engines
Resources 3: visit to Chester Beatty Library

Week 5.
Methodologies of Art History 1
Choosing a research topic
Resources 4: visit to National Museum of Ireland

Week 6.
Methodologies of Art History 2
Formulating research topics/reading critically
Resources 5: visit to National Gallery of Ireland

Week 7.
MA thesis: a student’s perspective
Writing a literature review
Resources 6: visit to Trinity College Library


Week 9.
Methodologies of Art History 3
Research exercise feedback and discussion

Week 10.
Methodologies of Art History 4
The writing process/structuring the thesis

Week 11.
Methodologies of Art History 5
Organizing sources, references, and bibliographies

Week 12.
Research presentations

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Conversation Class


Field Trip/External Visits


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module is based entirely on class seminars. Students will be required to read and present on selected topics. Classes are devoted to close readings of primary texts and class discussion. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: Literature Review Week 10 n/a Graded No


Assignment: Research Exercise Week 7 n/a Graded No


Presentation: Research Proposal Presentation Week 12 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Individual feedback on Research Exercise (due in Week 7) and Literature Review (due in week 10) will allow students the opportunity to gauge their understanding of the module themes in advance of the final class presentation on their thesis topic (due in Week 12).

Adams, Laurie S. Methodologies of Art: An Introduction. Oxford: Westview Press, 2002.
Broude, Norma and Gerrard, M.D. (eds.), The Expanding Discourse: Feminism and Art History. New York: Harper and Row, 1992.
Carrier, David. Principles of Art History Writing. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991.
Anne D’Alleva, Methods and Theories of Art History. London: Laurence King, 2005.
Edwards, Steve, ed. Art and Its Histories: A Reader. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.
Elkins, James. The Domain of Images. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999.
Elkins, James. Visual Studies: A Skeptical Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2003.
Evans, Jessica and Stuart Hall, eds. Visual culture: the reader. London: Sage, 1999.
Fernie, Eric, ed. Art History and Its Methods. London: Phaidon, 1996.
Gombrich, Ernst H. Reflections on the History of Art: Views and Reviews. Oxford: Phaidon, 1987.
Harris, Jonathan. The New Art History: A Critical Introduction. New York/London: Routledge, 2001.
Harris, Jonathan. Art History. The Key Concepts. London: Routledge, 2006.
Hatt, M. & Klonk, C. Art History: A Critical Introduction to its Methods, Manchester University Press, 2006.
Holly, Michael Ann. Panofsky and the Foundations of Art History. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984.
Moxey, Keith. The Practice of Theory: Poststructuralism, Cultural Politics, and Art History. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994.
Nelson, Robert S., and Richard Shiff, eds. Critical Terms for Art History. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2003.
Neill, Alex and Aaron Ridley, eds. The Philosophy of Art: Readings Ancient and Modern. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1995.
Pacht, Otto. The Practice of Art History: Reflections on Method. London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 1999.
Pollock, Griselda. Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism, and Histories of Art. New York/London: Routledge, 1988.
Preziosi, Donald. Rethinking Art History: Meditations on a Coy Science. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989.
Preziosi, Donald, ed. The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Rose, Gillian. Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. London: Sage, 2001.
Shone, Richard and Stonard, John-Paul, The Books that Shaped Art History, London: Thames and Hudson, 2013.

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.
Murray, Rowena. How to Write a Thesis. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2006.
Name Role
Ms Carla Briggs Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Roisin Kennedy Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Tues 10:00 - 11:50