History (HIST) 204

A Survey of Western Art II: Looking at Art from the Renaissance to Present Day (Revision 4)

HIST 204 course cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook) with optional online video components.*
*Overseas students, please contact the University Library before registering in a course that has an audio/visual component.

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: None; however, we strongly recommend successful completion of ENGL 255; ARHI 201 provides a good historical background.

Precluded Course: HIST 204 is a cross-listed course—a course listed under two different disciplines—with ARHI 202. HIST 204 may not be taken for credit by students who have obtained credit for ARHI 202.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

History Studies home page

HIST 204 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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HIST 204 is a continuation of HIST 203. The course introduces students to the developments in artistic expression from the Renaissance to Contemporary art. The course introduces the basic premise of art history and teaches students how to critically view historical works and artistic practices.

Course Objectives

  1. Improve the critical tools and communication skills acquired in Art History 201/History 203: Survey of Western Art I: Looking at Art from Ancient Times to the Middle Ages.
  2. Learn how to look at art in terms of its visually descriptive aspects and corresponding materials of production.
  3. Understand the functions of visual art in the periods covered in the course.
  4. Examine and understand the iconographical significance of important historical works.
  5. Within the historical parameters of the course, achieve a general overview of the history and developments of western visual art, its major periods, movements, concepts, and artists.
  6. Acquire an art and architecture vocabulary and be able to use it in relation to specific works.
  7. Initiate a critical discussion on how works of art form part of a larger set of relationships that include artist and society.
  8. Learn how to write a University level research essay.


The course consists of the following.

  • Lesson 1: Introduction to Art History
  • Lesson 2: Northern Europe and Italy in the Renaissance
  • Lesson 3: Art and Religion in Sixteenth-century Europe
  • Lesson 4: The Baroque in Italy, Spain and the Netherlands
  • Lesson 5: Rococo and Neoclassical influences in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century
  • Lesson 6: Art Movements in Nineteenth-century Europe
  • Lesson 7: Birth of the Avant-Garde and Modernism in Europe
  • Lesson 8: Art Since the Interwar Period


To receive credit for HIST 204, you must achieve a course composite mark of at least a “D” (50 percent) and a mark of at least 50 percent on the final exam. The weighting of the composite mark is as follows:

Self-Assessment Study Questions 15%
Essay Assignment (1000 words) 20%
Term Paper (1750 – 2000 words) 30%
Final Exam 35%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators that can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Davies, Penelope J. E., Walter B. Denny, Frima Fox Hofrichter, Joseph Jacobs, Ann M. Roberts and David L. Simon. Janson's History of Art: The Western Tradition.

A print version of the eText can be purchased from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided in the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Other Resources

All other learning resources will be available online.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the HIST 204 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least “D” (50 percent) on each part of the examination.

Part 1 Exam (Take Home Essay) Part 2 Exam (Written Exam) Total
50% 50% 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 4, January 7, 2014.

View previous syllabus

Updated May 18 2016 by Student & Academic Services