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Seminar BA3 Decorative art and Design: Storytelling, Material Culture, Design, Heritage and Engagement


Admission requirements

Completed first year (propedeuse) of the bachelor Art History or education at a similar level. Two successfully completed second year seminars (or the equivalent thereof). For Leiden University art history students: having successfully completed the excursion seminar to either Berlin or Florence.


This seminar will focus on design, decorative art, material culture, and heritage buildings by way of the notion of storytelling and engagement. Today, it is important to reflect on how design and decorative art relate to societal engagement. How can we perform scholarly research and write about design and decorative art with this in mind? We will investigate and theorize the potential of narration for design, material culture, decorative art, and heritage buildings, and contribute to societal engagement in so doing.

Course objectives

  • Being able to reflect on and apply the concept of storytelling and narration in publications and presentations of design, decorative art and material culture.

  • Mastering the analysis of design, decorative art, material culture and cultural heritage in general in terms of engagement and storytelling.

  • Being skilled in tracing relevant historical and contemporary visual and written resources and using these appropriately in case studies.

  • Having the practical skills needed to smoothly collaborate in a project team (writing a proposal, planning a project, evaluating progress, meeting deadlines, etc.)

  • Mastering key collaborative skills (like listening, asking questions, encouraging and supporting others, negotiating, giving feedback).

  • Demonstrate analytical skills in dedicated research tasks related to the main topic of this course.

  • Being able to critically analyze and discuss the latest scholarly findings related to a self-chosen research question and showing mastery in writing a qualitative paper (level 300, i.e. bachelor third year) of about 5,000 words, excluding notes and literature.

  • Having practiced preparing and presenting a visually supported oral presentation of about 20 minutes, thereby effectively responding to questions and comments from teachers and peers.


  • Thursday 9-11 hrs (draft)

Please note: for the final schedule refer to Collegeroosters / Timetable on the Art History website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar with active participation

  • Excursions

Important: attendance in seminar sessions is mandatory! In case of no-show, the tutor should be informed about your absence prior to the actual seminar session. Moreover this course cannot be successfully completed by students that were absent more than twice. Only in exceptional cases, the Examination Committee may consider the possibility of an additional or substitute assignment. See also the Course and Examination Regulations.

Course Load

Course load in summary: 10 ects (280 hrs)

26 hrs: Attending seminar sessions (2 hrs weekly x 13 weeks)
52 hrs: Weekly readings and assignments (4 hrs x 13 weeks)
10 hrs: Two excursions (2 × 5 hrs = 10 hrs)

Preparations for the course paper:

140 hrs: Reading and analyzing literature
52 hrs Writing of paper
280 hrs

Assessment method

  • Practical seminar assignments: 30% of Final Grade; no re-sit

  • Oral presentation: 10% of Final Grade; no re-sit

  • Final paper: 60% of Final Grade

Compensation: Final paper must be graded 6.0 or higher. Grades below 6.0 for the practical assignments and oral presentation are allowed for compensation.
Re-sit: one re-sit for the Final paper. There is NO re-sit for the Oral presentation and other practical assignments during the seminar.


Blackboard will be used for assignments and readings.

Reading list

Marjan Groot, Storytelling, design, material culture, heritage and digital interventions around war and peace. The case of the Peace Palace in The Hague, 2015. Print on demand, please order the brochure before the start of the course (Uitgeverij Verloren, Hilversum, c. 10 euro).


Via uSis.

General information about uSis 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



Mw Dr. M.H. Groot


The course is planned to be English spoken and international students may sign up. To better prepare for a Master, courses in English may help Dutch students to get used to class discussions in that language. However, if only Dutch-speaking students have enrolled the course will be given in Dutch.