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Last modified: 28 Jun 2018 10:27

Course Overview

This course focuses on northern European light and northern European landscape, with emphasis on how these vary through the seasons, the chief focus is how these are reflected in fine art (mostly painting, but also recent land art and photography) from the late eighteenth century to the present day. There will be some reference in the course to the relation between northern climate and northern society, including discussion of the health and wellbeing of the northern individual as influenced by these factors, and of art as a positive force in the life of the dweller in the north. Download course guide.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Arnar Arnason

Qualification Prerequisites


What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Course Aims

To give students a preliminary understanding of the chief features of the development of northern European arts and society since 1780.

To deepen students' apprehension of the relation between landscape painting from Northern Europe (c.1780-2000) and those unique conditions of light and season which exist in Northern Europe.

To deepen students' capacity to think creatively about cultural responses  to northern landscape, including awareness of human emotional responses to seasonal variations of light and weather.

To deepen awareness of the ways in which landscape and environment shape human perception and well-being. 

Main Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:
Describe and identify, in oral and written forms, the chief developments in cultural responses in northern Europe, since the 1780s, and how these relate to changing perceptions of real land and landscape.

Reflect, in oral and written forms, in an informed way, on light and landscape in the north, on light and season in the north of Europe and the response of the human individual to these.

Articulate, in oral and written forms, effects of season and weather on human mood and well-being, and on emotional expression in visual art.

Discuss, in oral and written forms, changes over time in appreciation of, and uses of, all kinds of landscape (upland as well as cultivated) in the north of Europe.  
Reflect, in oral and written forms, on the connections between northern light and landscape and human health and well-being, and human creativity.


Visual art, land art and culture produced in Northern Europe since 1780, the focus of which is landscape, season and light;

The characteristic seasonal variations of northern light and weather, and how these affect society, the human individual in terms of health and well-being, as well as the artist;

Perceptions of light and seasonal variation in human response to northern landscape;

The potential of space and environment to shape human perception and responses to it both physically and creatively;

The potential role of culture and landscape in shaping and enhancing the experience of life in northern Europe, considered in an interdisciplinary perspective.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: Continuous assessment (100%)
One project of EITHER an essay OR photographic essay with detailed commentary (70%)
If an essay is submitted it should be of 3000 words and should normally include illustrations of visual material discussed.
If a photographic essay is submitted, it should consist of a carefully sequenced collection of images with detailed commentary (2500 words) both on the ideas which the sequence explores and on each individual image within it.

Group presentation (10%) from a choice of topics (different to those of the essay)

Individual presentation report (500 words, with print out of the presentation PowerPoint) (20%)

Resit: 3000-word essay

Formative Assessment

Oral formative feedback on the group presentations before the written report. .


Students will be offered an opportunity to discuss project subject and content in advance.

Detailed written feedback will be provided on the presentation report and the assessed project, whether it takes the form of a conventional essay or photographic essay with commentary.

Course Learning Outcomes


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