Skip to main content

Unit information: Art and War (Level I Special Field) in 2021/22

Unit name Art and War (Level I Special Field)
Unit code HART20027
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Mr. William Hamilton
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History of Art (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit argues that war induces a crisis in the work of artists who find themselves caught up in it, whether as soldiers, reporters, civilians or protesters. It traces that sense of crisis from the First World War, across a century of conflict, to the present day. Such a long time period enables us to explore the tradition of war art that has unfolded over the past 100 years. It takes an unconventional route through the 20th century, bypassing the usual narrative of 'modern movements', and constructing its own, alternative canon. It raises difficult questions about death, mutilation, violence and bereavement, and how they should be represented. And it uncovers some difficult material; difficult because it is distressing to look at, but also difficult because it may seem too easy on the eye. War art can be disturbing because its subject-matter is inherently ugly, but perhaps one of the most disruptive things about it, is that its treatment of that subject can also be beautiful. Themes for discussion may include: war photography, dystopian landscapes, peace protest, memorials, and satire. Artists may include Paul Nash, Otto Dix, Vanessa Bell, Don McCullin, Robert Capa, Pablo Picasso, and Nancy Spero, amongst others.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. identify and analyse the significance of key themes in war art over the past century
  2. evaluate the historiographical debates that surround the topic
  3. work with primary sources
  4. demonstrate writing and research skills appropriate to level I/5.

Teaching Information

1 x 2hr seminars and 1 x 1hr workshop weekly

Assessment Information

One 3000-word summative essay (75%) [ILOs 1-4]

One one-hour exam (25%) [ILOs 1-2]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. HART20027).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.