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VSA3022 Contemporary Art Theory 2

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: VSA1000 and VSA1003 and VSA2000 and VSA2001

Other requisites

It is recommended and advised that students complete VSA3021 Contemporary Art Theory 1 prior to this study.


Building on the content of VSA3021 Contemporary Art Theory 1, students in this course will further develop their understanding of theoretical debates in relation to studio practice and contemporary art. Students will be discussing and researching at an advanced level, critical and cultural theory in national and international contexts. This course develops an advanced level of study in preparation for professional art practice or further study in honours and postgraduate levels.


The theoretical context for understanding contemporary art developed in VSA3021, is extended and further developed in this course. The aim of this course is to broaden and deepen the students' grasp of the contested field of contemporary art theory and assist the student in identifying key points of contact between their individual art practice, art practice in general, and the broader art institutional and cultural context. This context includes gender and identity politics, anthropology in art, indigenous art, cultural criticism and the politics of representation.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. work independently as professional researchers of visual arts and culture
  2. critically examine key issues in contemporary visual art, theory and culture
  3. critically apply research skills using relevant conceptual frameworks
  4. communicate in writing by planning and submitting written research projects at an advanced level of study
  5. situate art practice in social and cultural contexts by linking course concepts to artistic practice and the broader culture
  6. critically reflect upon the politics and ethics of visual culture.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Contemporary visual, cultural and critical theory 20.00
2. The definition of cultural, critical and visual theory and applications for practice 20.00
3. Dimensions of contemporary visual art practice within a cultural context 20.00
4. Visual theory, critical theory, structural theory and contemporary visual practice 20.00
5. Establishing a critical approach to practice and textual analysis 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. (

  • Additional materials for this course will be discussed with the studio lecturer in light of the individual programme of each student.
  • Students are required to research and utilise a range of sources and materials as a way of demonstrating the outcomes of their arts practice. The list of reference materials below will assist with answering all assignments as well as developing research related to studios.

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, Y-A & Krauss, R 1997, Formless: a user's guide, Zone, New York.
  • Crary, J 1992, Techniques of the observer: on vision and modernity in the 19th century, MIT Press, Cambridge.
  • Elkins, J 2003, Visual studies: a sceptical introduction, Routledge, New York.
  • McLean, I (ed) 2011, How Aborigines invented the idea of contemporary art: writings on Aboriginal contemporary art, Institute of Modern Art and Power Publications, Brisbane & Sydney.
  • Storey, J 2006, Cultural theory and popular culture: a reader, University of Georgia Press, Georgia.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Lectures 26.00
Private Study 126.00
Tutorials 13.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ASSIGNMENT 1 100 20 17 Aug 2015
ASSIGNMENT 2 100 30 14 Sep 2015
ASSIGNMENT 3 100 50 26 Oct 2015

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    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.