SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Art and Culture in Imperial China

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2019/2020
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 2

The course will provide an overview of developments in the visual arts in China during one of the major imperial formations, and will relate them to changes in the broader culture. The period to be studied will in individual years be drawn from one of the following:

  • Tang dynasty (618-906 CE)
  • Song dynasty (960-1279 CE)
  • Ming dynasty (1368-1644 CE)
  • Qing dynasty (1644-1911 CE)

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, students will:

  • understand the distinctive material forms and contexts of art, as well as the social roles of its makers and audiences, during the period studied
  • have an understanding of the relationship of the visual arts to wider social and cultural developments during the period
  • be aware of some historiographical issues relevant to the material
  • have the ability to situate these visual materials in relation to some of the developments elsewhere in Chinese culture and society at this time

Students should also advance their ability to:

  • construct an argument in both oral and written form
  • research a topic and construct a bibliography
  • assimilate new material to relevant theories and methods in the history of art

Scope and syllabus

The syllabus will cover the period through study of individual thematic topics, which will cover:

  1. Introduction to the history and society of the period
  2. State patronage and the imagery of state power
  3. The lives and social role of artists
  4. The audiences and patrons for art
  5. Theories of artistic production
  6. Stylistic change and development within the arts of the period
  7. The materials of artistic production
  8. Craft production and artisans
  9. Art and religious cultures of the period
  10. The appropriation of outside influences in the art of the period

Method of assessment

Non Finalists: Two essays of 1,500 words each (worth 20% each) and one exam (worth 60%) Finalists: Two essays of 2,000 words each (worth 20% each) and one exam (worth 60%)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules