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VIS4002 Visual Aesthetics

Semester 2, 2012 Online Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Arts
School or Department : School of Creative Arts
Version produced : 30 December 2013

Contents on this page


Examiner: David Akenson
Moderator: Kyle Jenkins


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: BCAH or BVAH or MSTA


This course critical examines aesthetic theories from pre-modern, modern and contemporary periods which have influenced artists within traditional and contemporary modes of artistic activity. As a result, this course provides a further in-depth development of key debates within art history, theory and practice focusing primarily on the design, development and final production of a professional project by each student. This is done through the development and production of either written or practical studio research.


Debates related to questions of meaning, theory, history, and contemporary aesthetic studies and its context within the visual arts. This course introduces students to a consideration of these questions through a selection of essays drawn from particular areas such as psychoanalysis, phenomenology, critical theory, structuralism, post-structuralism, modernism, postmodernism, aesthetic analysis, German idealism and current contemporary debates. . Students who undertake the On-campus mode of study will be undertaking research where they will be developing studio work. The studio research will be underpinned by historical and theoretical debates. For students undertaking online study the course will consist of a series of on-line lectures supported by readings that informhistorical, modern and contemporary theoretical debates.


On successful completion of this course students will have:

  1. an ability to identify key problems in the interpretations of visual and/or written texts and images;
  2. a demonstrated ability to discuss and evaluate a range of critical responses to these problems;
  3. an understanding of materials and how to problem solve through practice and experimentaiton through the studio research;
  4. critical and analystical reflection upon th enexus between theory and practice;
  5. a demonstrated ability for reflexivity in their critical practice and how this relates to the course content.


Description Weighting(%)
1. History Perspectives of Western Aesthetic Theory 10.00
2. Visual Aesthetics and Reading Systems 10.00
3. 'Ethics' in visual art 10.00
4. Artistic Intentionality 10.00
5. Art and Science 10.00
6. Psychoanalysis and Aesthetics 10.00
7. Phenomenology 10.00
8. Virtual Reality and Aesthetics 10.00
9. The Social Dimension of Art` 10.00
10. Contested terrains: history, artist and audience 10.00

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. (

  • There are no texts or materials required 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.
  • Adorno, T & Bernstein, JM (trans) 1991, The culture industry: selected essays on mass culture, Routledge, London.
  • Adorno, T 1996, Aesthetic theory, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Mn.
  • Barthes, R 1977, Image, Music, Text, Hill and Wang, New York.
    (Also available online via library catalogue.)
  • Barthes, R 1988, The Semiotic Challenge, Blackwell, Oxford.
  • Beech, D 2009, Beauty: Documents of Contemporary Art, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Online Lectures 18.00
Private Study 147.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ESSAY - 1500 WORDS 100 30 13 Aug 2012
JOURNAL QUESTIONS 100 20 08 Oct 2012
RESEARCH PAPER 2000 WDS 100 50 29 Oct 2012

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the studentsí responsibility 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. Students must attend and complete the requirements of the Workplace Health and Safety training program for this course where required.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without (prior) approval of the examiner then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment may apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded.

  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 examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    As there are no examinations in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  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. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be despatched to USQ within 24 hours if required by the Examiner.

  3. In accordance with University Policy, the Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. If electronic submission of assessments is specified for the course, students will be notified of this in the course Introductory Book and on the USQ Study Desk. All required electronic submission must be made through the Assignment Drop Box located on the USQ Study Desk for the course, unless directed otherwise by the examiner of the course. The due date for an electronically submitted assessment is the date by which a student must electronically submit the assignment. The assignment files must be submitted by 11.55pm on the due date using USQ time (as displayed on the clock on the course home page; that is, Australian Eastern Standard Time).

  5. If the method of assessment submission is by written, typed or printed paper-based media students should (i) submit to the Faculty Office for students enrolled in the course in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail to the USQ for students enrolled in the course in the external mode. The due date for the assessment is the date by which a student must (i) submit the assessment for students enrolled in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail the assessment for students enrolled in the external mode.

  6. If the method of assessment submission is by written, typed or printed paper-based media students should (i) submit to the Faculty Office for students enrolled in the course in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail to the USQ for students enrolled in the course in the external mode. The due date for the assessment is the date by which a student must (i) submit the assessment for students enrolled in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail the assessment for students enrolled in the external mode.

  7. Students who do not have regular access to postal services for the submission of paper-based assessments, or regular access to Internet services for electronic submission, or are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements prior to the submission date.

  8. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded one of the temporary grades: IM (Incomplete - Make up), IS (Incomplete - Supplementary Examination) or ISM (Incomplete -Supplementary Examination and Make up). A temporary 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.

  9. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a 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).

  10. Students may be assigned an "Incomplete" grade to signify that all the requirements of the course have not yet been met. Students who are graded "I" can pass the course by successfully completing such additional work as prescribed by the examiner by a given date. Students who have been awarded an IM, ISM, IDM or IDB grade must access information regarding further work to be completed, in the Student Centre of U Connect. The Grades Page in the Student Centre contains information about further work to be completed. Students who have not completed the additional work to the satisfaction of the examiner by the given date will receive the appropriate Failing grade.

Other requirements

  1. Students can expect that questions in assessment items in this course may draw upon knowledge and skills that they can reasonably be expected to have acquired before enrolling in the course. This includes knowledge contained in pre-requisite courses and appropriate communication, information literacy, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving or numeracy skills. Students who do not possess such knowledge and skills should not expect to achieve the same grades as those students who do possess them.