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The Age of Giotto (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

Wednesdays from 17th April 2024 (Code AA262-301) Wednesdays from
17th April 2024 11:10am - 1:00pm • (10 classes)
G38 Paterson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Lesley Fraser MA (Hons) MSc MPhil
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

This course will examine the artistic and cultural developments of late medieval Italy, focusing on the work of Giotto and contemporaries such as Duccio and Simone Martini. Classes will focus on close analysis of art from this period which saw significant changes in technique, style and subject matter. Throughout the course, students will consider changes such as the depiction of contemporary settings rather than traditional, schematic backgrounds, and the transition from rigid depictions of people to characters infused with emotion and interaction. These developments in art will be placed in the religious, political and cultural context of the time, looking in particular at the catalysts for change such as the Mendicant Orders' artistic and architectural patronage.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment


Content of Course

This course will cover the following areas:
- Nicola and Giovanni Pisano: ancient and modern
- Cimabue: 'the renewal of painting'
- Giotto: 'a great light eclipses a smaller one'
- Giotto: 'sovereign master of painting'
- The Mendicant Orders: facilitators of innovation
- Duccio: innovation inspired by Greek and Byzantine tradition
- Simone Martini: urban realism
- The Lorenzetti brothers, Pietro and Ambrogio: anecdote and everyday life
- Taddeo Gaddi, Giotto's most gifted pupil
- Material Culture

Teaching method(s)

The course will be taught by informal lecture and discussion. Students will be guided in close analysis of paintings and other works of art, and will be introduced to key concepts in the study of Art History at this level. Students taking the course for credit will receive guidance on how to present their art history essay, and will be able to discuss their assessment with the course tutor, through a formative assessment essay plan which leads directly to the final essay.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. demonstrate an understanding of the key developments in late medieval Italian art
  2. analyse the cultural and political context of the work of Giotto and his contemporaries
  3. assess critically key works of art from Italy in the late medieval period


Core Readings

  • A. Derbes and M. Sandona eds., 2004. The Cambridge Companion to Giotto. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Diana Norman ed., 1995. Siena, Florence and Padua: Arts, Society and Religion 1200-1400, 2 vols. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • John White, 1994. Art and Architecture in Italy, 1250-1400. New Haven: Yale University Press.


10 credit courses have one assessment. Normally, the assessment is a 2000 word essay, worth 100% of the total mark, submitted by week 12. To pass, students must achieve a minimum of 40%. There are a small number of exceptions to this model which are identified in the Studying for Credit Guide.

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.