Course Programme

 Critical Studies in Art and Culture is a two-year, full-time programme of 120 credits. It consists of a compulsory component of two general courses spanning the various fields of research (the core modules Imagining the Image and Critical Issues in the Cultural Industries)  as well as field-specific research seminars (or specialization modules) that focus on either visual art, media, architecture or design— for with the development of our department’s Design Cultures programme, Design has now been added to  Critical Studies in Art and Culture  as a fourth specialization.

In addition, there’s a seminar on research methodology, as well as room for electives and tutorials. The programme is concluded with a Master’s thesis. This website gives a short introduction to the different courses taught in the  Critical Studies in Art and Culture  research master’s programme. For more information and the full schedule, please visit http://masters.vu.nl/en/programmes/arts-culture-visual-media-architecture/index.aspx

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Compulsory Courses

Imagining the Image (9 credits)
In this course various definitions of ‘image and imagination’ are traced in close connection with historical and contemporary developments in visual culture. Key texts by modern and contemporary authors on visual culture are critically read and discussed, followed by in-depth analyses of the principles and methods of historiography. The course is taught every two years to both first- and second-year students, alternating with Critical Issues in the Cultural Industries. Sven Lütticken has been in charge of this course for the past few years; he will teach it again in 2016-17, this time  taking a case study from 1980s media art practice as its point of departure.
(Click here for essays written for the 2012-2013 edition.)

Critical Issues in the Cultural Industries (9 credits)
This course focuses on the face, role and influence of present-day popular culture, referred to as ‘cultural industry’ by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer in the mid-20th century. At the dawn of the 21st century, does the culture of the masses still present a threat to High Art, as Adorno and Horkheimer then feared? Has art finally become a lucrative business in the modern economy, a mere component of the entertainment sector, or can it still operate autonomously and critically? Students approach, examine and question controversial and critical issues in the culture industries. The course is taught every two years to both first- and second-year students, yearly alternating with Imagining the Image; after Wouter Davidts, Ginette Verstraete has now taught two editions of this course.
(Click here to see the results of the 2009-2010 edition of Critical Issues and here for those of 2011-2012.)

Research Seminars (2 x 9 credits)
Each student is to complete at least two research seminars from a total of four: Media, Architecture, Design or Visual Art. The seminars for Media and Design are set – Reading Concepts of Intermediality and Methods in Design Analysis, respectively – but those on Architecture an Visual Art changes yearly, based on the staff’s ongoing research. All four seminars are taught in the first year of the programme.
(Click here to discover the topics of the Visual Art focus seminars.)

Research Design (2 x 6 credits)
All Research Master students at the Faculty of Arts are obliged to attend the Research Design seminar in both their first and second year. The seminar brings together students from different disciplines and lets them discuss each other’s research. By way of practical assignments and guest lecturers, the course aims to introduce students to the workings of organizations funding scientific research such as NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) and to prepare them for the application and selection process.

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Optional Courses

The remaining 42 credits are to be filled with electives and tutorials, spread over the course of two years. Electives can be chosen from the curriculum of the Art History, Architecture History or Media Master’s programs and are subject to approval. During their first year, students can also participate in an international excursion (6 credits). Students are strongly recommended to also set up some tutorials. These tutorials offer students the opportunity to propose research projects within one or several of the faculty’s research areas and to work closely with one or more of the staff members. Tutorials can eventually lead to bigger research projects or other opportunities.

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Master’s Thesis

The Master’s thesis (30 credits) is the conclusion of the two-year programme and is to show the student’s ability to conduct independent and innovating academic research. It is to focus on topical research areas and issues related to research being conducted within the faculty.

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