AHT3120 - Art and social change - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.


Art, Design and Architecture

Organisational Unit

Department of Fine Arts


Ms Shelley McSpedden

Not offered in 2017


This unit was formerly coded TAD3120


This unit looks at key moments in history in which art and artists have actively strived to generate social change. With a particular focus on the late 20th and 21st centuries, Art and Social Change critically explores the dynamic sites in which art, life and activism intersect. Diverse contexts and artistic practices will be examined. Topics include the use of art in political propaganda, culture jamming, identity politics, indigenous art and politics, the environment, art and the impact of global terrorism, and critiques of the art world itself. These thematic weekly study topics will be complimented by discussions of theory from key writers and theorists in the field.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students will:

  1. Have developed an appreciation for the diverse ways in which artists have intervened in the social world since the modern period.
  2. Approach art history with an appreciation for the social and political forces that inform art practice.
  3. Be able to analyse activist art critically in a manner that reveals the strengths and weaknesses of different artistic approaches.
  4. Be familiar with the key political philosophies that have informed the production and reception of politically motivated art.
  5. Be able to express verbally and in writing critical points of connection between art and social change.
  6. Understand the links between practice, theory and spectatorship in activist art.


Assignment 1,500 words (40%)

Research essay 2,500 words (60%)

Workload requirements

12 hours per week including 3 contact hours per week and 9 hours of independent study or equivalent.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)


12 credit points at second year level in Art history and theory, or Theory of Art and Design, Visual Culture or permission from Unit Coordinator.


TAD2120, TAD3120, AHT2120