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VSA3021 Contemporary Art Theory 1

Semester 1, 2021 Online
Short Description: Contemporary Art Theory 1
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Creative Arts
Student contribution band : 2021 Grandfather Funding Cl 2
ASCED code : 100301 - Fine Arts
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Johanna Guerin


Pre-requisite: VSA1000 and VSA1003 and VSA2000 and VSA2001


This course investigates key research areas and debates in contemporary visual art theory at an advanced level of study. This course will present key contemporary theories that have underpinned art practices both nationally and internationally. This course further develops the student’s understanding of art theory acquired in their first and second years of study. Issues presented in semester 1 will be further developed in Contemporary Art Theory 2.


The conceptual frameworks introduced by this course will provide the context for students thinking about their own practical work, and the broader field of art practice nationally and internationally. Throughout the course students will develop the critical tools which will enable them to reflect upon and theorise research at an advanced level. Students will be presented will a series of topics that explore various historical and contemporary theoretical topics that underpin artistic thought and practice.


On successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. identify the key debates in art history and theory in both modern and contemporary contexts;
  2. critically examine the nexus between art practice and the broader art historical and theoretical context at an advanced level;
  3. interpret, communicate and present ideas, clearly and succinctly to a broad range of audiences as part of planning and submitting research assessment work;
  4. work independently as professional researchers of aesthetic theory, art history and broader culture;
  5. recognise and reflect on social, cultural and ethical issues in the context of regional, national and international art practice and theory.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Understanding practice in context through research 16.00
2. Dimensions of contemporary aesthetic theory 16.00
3. Nexus between theory, history and contemporary visual art 17.00
4. The form and politics of indigenous art 17.00
5. Relationship between art and everyday life 17.00
6. Drafting and completing a research project 17.00

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.
Burger, P 1984, Theory of the avant-garde, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.
Chipp, HB 1968, Theories of modern art, University of California Press, Los Angeles, California.
Foster, H 1996, The return of the real, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Fried, M 1998, Art and objecthood: essays and reviews, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Greenberg, C & O'brien, J 1986, The collected essays and criticism, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 65.00
Private Study 100.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ASSIGNMENT 1 100 20 19 Apr 2021
ASSIGNMENT 2 100 30 17 May 2021
ASSIGNMENT 3 100 50 04 Jun 2021

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:
    There is no examination for this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    There is no examination 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

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.

Date printed 18 June 2021