Your first year Arts, Media and Society

As a student of Arts, Media and Society, you will have a full working week of 40 hours. Of these you will spend, on average, around 16 hours in lectures and tutorial groups. In the rest of the week you will be studying independently.

For an overview of the programme, see this summary of the first-year courses.

Year 1, first semester

Course Credits
Freshman’s class 5
How the world makes art 5
Visual arts 1300-1800 5
Modern and contemporary art and photography 5
Big media 5
Arts in society 5
Total 30

Year 1, second semester

Course Credits
Academic skills/writing 5
Introduction to design and domestic culture 5
Curating cultures 5
Representation and visual culture 5
Cinema and photography 10
Total 30

Course details for the first year for Arts, Media and Society

First semester

Freshman’s class (5 ec)

This course offers the perfect introduction to the academic study of the arts. Students learn about the digital learning environment of the university, the various aspects of the study of the arts, and different approaches to media and objects. During the second part of the course, the students learn about different primary and secondary sources and use of the library and documentation facilities.

How the world makes art (5 ec)

Humanity’s expression in many forms of art is a phenomenon that originates from prehistoric times, and continues to be relevant even in the present day, in all cultures around the world. During this course we study the profound impact that art can have on the viewer. Topics that are covered include:

The lectures offer a variety of approaches, and sketches the scope of art through time and space.

Visual arts 1300-1800 (5 EC)

In a series of lectures we focus on the visual arts from Cimabue to Tiepolo, from the late 13th century to the end of the 18th. The emphasis in this course is on painting and sculpture in the Netherlands and Italy, paying particular attention to aspects of style, iconography, and function. In the final two lectures we will focus on the history of printmaking, based on original prints.

Modern and contemporary art and photography (5 EC)

There is a wide variation in the visual arts of the contemporary era. To understand this we will take a thematic approach to the diverse aspects of (the research of) the modern arts. Terms such as romanticism, avant-garde, expressionism, imagination, the sublime, realism, abstraction, formalism, and modernism, are common threads running through the arts from 1800 to the present. Current topics such as postmodernism, digital photography, video art and the global art world are, naturally, also part of this lecture series.

Big media (5 EC)

Art, writing, books, photography, film, Internet, and the new digital (social) media are the major media of western cultural history. This course aims to provide an introduction to the development, transformations, and cultural functions of these media in the course of time. The changing connections and exchanges between these media will be discussed. We look into how these changes between media determine our notions of art, (popular) culture, and aesthetics, and how these changes colour the social, political, and cultural role of these media.

Arts in society (5 EC)

In this course we will examine the historical continuities and discontinuities in the interaction between art and society. From the ancient Greek understanding of a tragedy performance as catharsis, to medieval religious art as visual exegesis of the bible, from 19th-century ideas on realism in art, to art as political and societal activism in the 21st century: art practices have always claimed to be understood as a practice quite different and sometimes outside of or opposed to other cultural and societal practices. This does not deny the fluid concept of art – always embedded in historical circumstances – and the shifting role of art in society.

Second semester

Design and domestic culture (5 EC)

This course provides you with a chronological and thematic overview of domestic culture, design and applied art from 1500 to the present. With an approach based on design, we focus on the practical functions and the social and cultural meaning of objects and products. The lectures provide insight into key debates about design. The historical significance of design is made transparent by looking at products throughout the cycle of manufacturing, selling, consumption, and usage.

Curating cultures (5 EC)

What exactly is an exhibition? What does a curator do? What role does the public play in this process? During this course we will investigate present and past attitudes to these questions, the methods used to put something on display, the practices of managing objects, and the ways in which museums and collections contribute to canon formation. Aside from lectures on theory and practice, we will address case studies such as the experimental exhibition “Multiple Modernities” (Centre Pompidou, Paris 2013-2015).

Representation and Visual Culture (5 EC)

Representation is a central concept for all areas in which cultural objects are studied. Paintings, written and visual texts, material objects, films, and buildings, as well as institutions such as museums are rich in (either hidden or not) ideologies and meanings.

In this course we will address the following questions:

The concept of representation is this course’s critical starting point, questioning everything we see, read, and experience. It will also serve to increase our understanding of the dominance of the image in our culture, summed up in the concept of visual culture.

Cinema and photography (10 EC)

Developing independently of the arts, photography and cinema are media that have proven themselves. At the same time modern and contemporary art is deeply influenced by the introduction of new media such as photography and film.
In this course, we will discuss the development of photography and cinema, the exchange between art and digital media, and the impact of cinema and photography on our (visual) culture.

Credits / EC

The academic year comprises two semesters; during and at the end of each semester you will have exams. This can be an oral, a written exam, a final paper or assignment. For each subject you pass you will be awarded a number of credits. One credit equates 28 hours of study. One full-time year of studies is 60 EC.

Binding Study Advice (BSA)

You are expected to complete three-quarters of the study credits for the first year in the course of the first year. That means 45 out of the total of 60 study credits. If you fail to meet this requirement, you will be excluded from the rest of the programme.
See the Leiden University study system for more information.

Digital facilities

For students at Leiden University, many of the activities related to their study can be organised online. uSis is the University’s online administration system, students have to register via uSis for tutorials, papers and exams. uSis also shows your personal information, grades and timetable. You will also have access to Blackboard, Leiden University’s digital learning environment. Lecturers and tutors use this web-based tool to support the lectures and tutorials.

Tip: Like us on Facebook

Explore the programme and be in touch with other students who are also interested in Arts, Media and Society! Like us on Facebook and ask any questions you may have.

Testimonial Arts media and society first year

How do you describe the programme?
“Arts, Media and Society is an interdisciplinary programme that brings together contemporary art, film and photograph and digital media. You will often be invited to engage hands-on with your subject of study, from working together with artists in the lab to designing your own game or intervention.”