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How The World Makes Art


Admission requirements

Same as admission requirements for the BA Art History/BA Arts, Media and Society.


Art and architecture are forms of universal human expression. Across the world, through the ages, human cultures have produced buildings, paintings, sculptures, drawings and all kinds of artefacts to give visible form to their beliefs, dreams, fears or desires. They have also used art to affect its viewers: to inspire fear, love or admiration; or to express social, political or religious values and identities. The lecture course will offer a panorama of the vast range of art and cultural practices worldwide and through time. There are two levels of operation: on the one hand, the students will be introduced to the diversity of art and cultural practice around the world and through time, and on the other, on the basis of Elkins’ monograph Stories of Art (2002) and the lectures, how histories, or rather, stories of art can be written or told.

Mission statement

This course aims to create awareness that art is an integral part of human life. In all cultures across time and space, the visual arts and the built environment appear interwoven with crucial dimensions of being human – how we think of ourselves, what we believe, what we value, what we hope. Visual art both expresses and communicates such views, as this course sets out to demonstrate by means of in-depth case studies presenting examples drawn from a variety of cultures worldwide and through time.

Course objectives

  • Students acquire insight in and learn to value the richness, varieties and development of art across the world.

  • Students become familiar with major forms and technical and physical aspects of the visual and applied arts and architecture from prehistory to the present.

  • Students get acquainted with and learn to make use of the main sources and handbooks on world art studies.

  • Students acquire insight into some scholarly approaches to world art studies.


Visit My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture series

Assessment method

  • A writing assignment of 1000 words (midterms, 30%)

  • Written final exam (70%)


The weighted average of the (constituent) examinations must be at least 6.0 (= a pass). The final exam need to be a pass.


A resit/ rewrite can be done for constituent examinations which are failed. As far as applicable, all resits/ rewrites take place at the same time, after the final (constituent) examination.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • James Elkins, Stories of Art. New York/London: Routledge 2002

  • Gardner’s Art through the Ages (most recent edition)

  • Additional readings via BrightSpace


Via MyStudymap. First year Art History / Arts Media and Society students will be registered by the student administration.

General information about MyStudymap is available in English and Dutch.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Registration Studeren à la Carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs