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VIS4002 Visual Aesthetics

Semester 2, 2015 On-campus Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Arts and Communication

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 inform historical, 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 experimentation through the studio research
  4. critical and analytical reflection upon the nexus 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. 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. Material and immaterial 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 1996, Aesthetic theory, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Mn.
  • Barthes, R 1977, Image, music, text, Hill & Wang, New York.
  • Beech, D 2009, Beauty: documents of contemporary art, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Cazeaux, C 2000, The continental aesthetics reader, Routledge, London.
  • Costello, D & Vickery J (eds) 2007, Art: key contemporary thinkers.
    (available online via library catalogue.)

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Lectures 18.00
Private Study 147.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ESSAY 1500 WORDS 100 30 17 Aug 2015
JOURNAL QUESTIONS 100 20 12 Oct 2015
RESEARCH PAPER 2000 WORDS 100 50 02 Nov 2015

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    Students must attend and complete the requirements of the Workplace Health and Safety training program for this course where required.

    External and Online:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students? 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.

    It is the students? 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.

  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:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  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:
    Not applicable

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Not applicable

  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

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.