SOAS University of London

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

Ceramics in Chinese Culture: 10th - 18th Centuries

Module Code:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 1

Using the British Museum collection as primary source material, this course examines the history and development of Chinese ceramics from the 10th to the 18th century. The role of ceramics in Chinese culture forms a focus for the course, which aims to place ceramics in the context of Chinese visual and material culture. Using critical approaches from art history, archaeology and technology, students will explore aspects of the subject in detail, as they pertain to ceramic analysis, including: patronage, consumption, collecting, connoisseurship and historiography both within China and other areas where Chinese art was appropriated.


  • This Module is capped at 25 places
  • Students enrol via the online Module Sign-Up system. Students are advised of the timing of this process via email by the Faculty Office.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  1. Ability to identify and analyse critically a wide range of Chinese ceramics
  2. Familiarity with the technological development of Chinese ceramics and its impact on visual and aesthetic properties
  3. Understanding of the cultural and historical contexts for ceramic production in China

Teaching will consist of lectures, gallery visits, handling sessions, critical readings/seminars, group discussions and student presentations.


  • One hour Lecture, one hour Seminar

Scope and syllabus

  1. Introduction and Historical Overview: Neolithic to Tang
  2. Ceramic Technology in China
  3. British Museum gallery session
  4. Song Ceramics
  5. Sherd handling session; Categories and Taxonomy seminar
  6. Yuan Ceramics
  7. Ming Ceramics
  8. Historiography and the Literature of Connoisseurship
  9. Qing Ceramics
  10. Trade and Transfer
  11. Review and Slide Test

Method of assessment

  • One 1 000 words object report (worth 40%)
  • One 2 000 words essay (worth 60%)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules