This Course is Expired

Learning to Look at the Visual Arts

This course offers you the opportunity to learn how to study and analyse paintings, drawings and prints and learn the 'language of looking' to communicate your appreciation of art.
University of Oxford University Offices Wellington Square Oxford ,OX1 2JD United Kingdom
(4418) 65270000

Course at a Glance

Mode of learning : Online - Instructor Lead(LVC)

Domain / Subject : Arts & Design

Function : General

Trainer name : Mr Gordon Reavley

Starts on : 22nd Sep 2014

Duration : 10 Weeks

Difficulty : Advanced

About the course

In this course you will learn about the qualities that make up a picture including composition, space, form, tone and colour, why each element is important, and how they relate to each other to create the aesthetic appearance of the image. You will also learn to understand the importance of subject matter, original function and setting of a picture in appreciating its visual meaning.

Teaching and learning will be through guided reading and by interaction and question and answer sessions to promote visual understanding through appreciation of a series of paintings from the fifteenth century to the present day. A key element of the course is art criticism where you will take part in guided viewings of paintings and then have the opportunity to put your new visual vocabulary into practice working on tasks with your fellow students.

Course aims

  • Teach students to look at painting from a more visual and analytical point of view.
  • Teach the necessary visual vocabulary or language of looking.
  • Provide a method for looking at paintings, drawings and prints which is both flexible and clear.
  • Generate understanding of pictorial qualities and their integration for the aesthetic appearance.
  • Create a feeling for the integration of the aesthetic appearance with the subject matter and period of the picture.

Course Objectives

  • Learn how to look in a more objective and analytical way.
  • Learn the visual vocabulary and glossary of terms.
  • Understand pictoral qualities and what they mean, that is Composition, Space, Form, Tone, Colour, Subject Matter.
  • Think critically.

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Course eligibility

Course Requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.

Recommended reading

To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following paperback book: 

  • Acton, Mary, Learning to Look at Paintings(Routledge, London and New York, 2nd edition, 2008) ISBN 0415435188
I would like to be contacted regarding this course

Course Content

The areas you will cover in this course are:

  • Introduction to learning Look at the Visual Arts
  • Composition
  • Space
  • Form (2 weeks)
  • Tone
  • Colour 
  • Subject-matter
  • Drawing and its purposes
  • Looking at print


Write Your Own Review

Write your review here (required)

Is the price of course overrated?
would you recommend this course to others?
Is duration of the course sufficient enough?
Did you like the faculties?
What would you prefer in future classroom or online learning?

Key features

Related Courses:

Disclaimer: The contents of the course & Institute are obtained from the institute’s website by automated scraping or manual updates. For the latest information, please refer the institute website directly. For any discrepancies in the content, contact us at