Arts Britannica

Ref: C2341631

This course will use nine sometimes more, sometimes less well known artefacts as springboard to explore the historic backgrounds and chronology of British art history. Beginning with the Alfred Jewel (late 9thC, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford) to explore Anglo-Saxon metal working, book illumination and we move via the Wilton Diptych (c. 1395, National Gallery), Hans Holbein's painting of 'The Ambassadors' (1533, National Gallery), Josiah Wedgewood's copy of the Portland Vase, John Constable's sketchbook of 1813-15 amongst other, and closing with Tracey Emin's controversial autobiographical 'My Bed', we shall gain an overview of the key stylistic and historic development of British art.

Course aim

Arts Britannica uses nine artefacts or artworks as a starting point to explore key periods in the art history of Britain, and enable students to identify, understand and discuss the art of the British isles and its chronology.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • This course will suit those interested in the history of art and cultural tourism (museums, country houses, galleries).

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • You will be able to identify British art in a church, museum, country house or other exhibition context
  • You will be able to identify meaning and contemporary social contexts in British art
  • You will gain experience in analysing art and discussing it
  • You will develop confidence in your own views about art, and expressing them

How will I be taught?

  • Team taught (see below), slide-presentation based with plenty of room for discussion and questions

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • Verbal feedback will be given during discussions. Any individual or formal feedback requirements or requests can be discussed with the tutor in advance.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • This course will be team-taught by three lecturers, Dr Conny Bailey (lead), Dr Miriam Gill and Dr Ellie Pridgeon. All three lead modules on the BA Arts and Humanities offered by the Vaughan Centre for Lifelong Learning, the University of Leicester's adult education department.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • You could consider volunteering at a local museum or other cultural venue. You could derive artistic inspiration (style, expression) from this course.

Download full course information sheet

Arts Britannica

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This course is not available for online enrolment.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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