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VSA3021 Contemporary Art Theory 1

Semester 1, 2011 On-campus Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Arts
School or Department : School of Creative Arts

Contents on this page


Examiner: David Akenson
Moderator: Kyle Jenkins


This course introduces key research areas and debates in contemporary visual arts theory. It develops key issues in contemporary art theory which are developed further in Contemporary Art Theory 2


The conceptual frameworks introduced by this course might lean on students thinking about practical work. Throughout the course students will learn and develop critical tools which will enable them to reflect upon and theorise research.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. identify a variety of key areas of interest currently used by researchers in the visual arts;
  2. articulate the nexus between artists own practice and the broader art historical and theoretical context, including the work of other contemporary artists;
  3. demonstrate written communication skills appropriate to the task of planning and submitting written research projects;
  4. demonstrate oral communication skills by presenting a seminar paper.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Presenting practice in context through research 20.00
2. Dimensions of contemporary visual culture 20.00
3. Nexus between theory, history and contemporary visual art 20.00
4. Meanings of art theory and applications for practice 20.00
5. Drafting and completing a research project 20.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Materials and equipment for studio work to be discussed with studio lecturers in light of the individual programme of each student.
  • There are no text books for this course.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Bois, YA & Krauss, R 1997, Formless: a user's guide, Zone Books, New York.
  • B?rger, P 1984, Theory of the Avant-Garde, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.
  • Chipp, H B 1968, Theories of Modern Art, University of California Press, Los Angeles, California.
  • Fried, M 1998, Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  • Harrison, C & Wood, P 2002, Art in theory 1900-2000: an anthology of changing ideas, Blackwell Publishers, London.
  • Harrison, C, Wood, P & Gaiger, J 1998, Art in theory 1815-1900: an anthology of changing ideas, Blackwell Publishers, London.
  • Krauss, R 1986, The originality of the avant-garde and other modernist myths, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Krauss, R 1999, A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition, Thames & Hudson, New York, N.Y.
  • Lechte, J 2007, Fifty key contemporary thinkers, Routledge, London.
  • O'Brian, J 1993 (ed), Clement Greenburg: The Collected Essays and Criticism, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Lectures 26.00
Private Study 69.00
Project Work 56.00
Tutorials 14.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Objectives assessed Graduate skill Level assessed Notes
1500 WORD ESSAY 100 25 25 Apr 2011 2 U3,U4 3,3 (see note 1)
3000 WORD ESSAY 100 50 13 Jun 2011 1,4 U3,U4 3,3 (see note 2)
WEEKLY JOURNAL 100 25 13 Jun 2011 2,3 U3,U4 3,3

  1. This assessment item is aligned with Objective 2.
  2. Please note: All images should be in colour and all referencing needs to be done in the Oxford Referencing System. This assessment item aligned with Objectives 1 and 4.

Graduate qualities and skills

Elements of the following USQ Graduate Skills are associated with the sucessful completion of this course.
Academic, professional and digital literacy (U3)Advanced (Level 3)
Written and oral communication (U4)Advanced (Level 3)

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the student's responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration. For this course, normal class attendance consists of one 2 hour lecture and one 1 hour tutorial per week.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To successfully complete an individual assessment item, a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks or a grade of at least C-. This statement must be read in conjunction with Statement 4 below.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without extenuating circumstances and without prior approval, then a penalty of a maximum of 5% of the assigned mark may apply for each working day late, up to a maximum of 10 working days, at which time a mark of zero can be recorded for that assignment.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade, a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no exam for this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Given the details under (6) above, there are no deferred exams for this course. However, if any deferred/makeup work is granted, it would have to be submitted by a date set by the examiner.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. (a) The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must lodge the assignment at the USQ. (b) All Faculty of Arts assignments must be lodged in the Faculty Assessment Centre on the Ground Floor of Q Block no later than 12 noon on the due date. (c) In the event that a due date for an assignment falls on a local public holiday in their area, such as a Show holiday, the due date for the assignment will be the next day. Students are to note on the assignment cover the date of the public holiday for the examiner's convenience. (d). Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be despatched to USQ within 24 hours if requested by the Examiner. (e) In accordance with University's Assignment Extension Policy (Regulation 5.6.1), the examiner of a course may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances such as documented ill-health. (f) Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in the course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of the course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded the temporary grade: IM (Incomplete-Makeup). An IM grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non-directed personal study. (g) Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or sit for an examination at the scheduled time, may apply to defer an assessment in the course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded: IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination; IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).