Intercollegiate Modules


If you are a student at one of the University of London's 17 member institutions, then you can choose to apply to take one of your option modules at the Warburg Institute.

Option modules available
  • Cosmological Images: Representing the Universe

This course will study cosmograms: concrete objects which represent the universe as a whole. It will explore connections between art and science, including the intellectual function of images and the aesthetics of representing the cosmos and knowledge about it, in science, religion, and folk traditions. Students will be provided methods for studying such objects in action, as part of ritual practices and political programs. 

One aim of the course will be to trace the changing form and content of cosmograms from the medieval through modern period, especially with regard to scientific images. The course will trace the gradual emergence of a cosmology said to be mechanical, materialist, and objective, and its interactions and oppositions with other views of the cosmos. The study of conflicts and controversies focused on cosmograms will ground these longstanding issues of intellectual history in concrete contexts and the making of objects and images. 

  • Islamic Authorities and Arab Elements in the Renaissance

Starting from selected Renaissance texts, this course will explore, on the one hand, the continuing importance of the texts in Arabic philosophy, science and magic translated into Latin in the Middle Ages, and, on the other hand, the beginnings of the study of Arabic itself and the production of new translations. Topics will include the problem of translating from Arabic, attitudes towards Islam, the Arabic contributions to philosophy, mathematics and medicine, and the ‘Antarabism’ of the humanists. No knowledge of Arabic is required.

  • Mapping Worlds: Medieval to Modern

The aim of this course is to explore how maps have served to order and represent physical, social and imaginative worlds from around 1200 to 1700. The focus is on the iconographic character of maps and the complex relation between art and science that is found in mapmaking throughout history. Students will be introduced to a wide range of images from different time periods and made for a variety of purposes, with the intent of drawing together art history, literature, philosophy and visual culture. Theoretical issues will be approached concerning, for example, the association of word and image, the definition of maps and their difference from views and diagrams, but the background and purpose of individual examples will be also discussed. These include medieval world maps produced as independent artefacts or drawn as book illustrations, mural map cycles of the Italian Renaissance, early modern prints made to identify and describe lands mentioned in the Bible or the archaeological mapping of cities.  The course will investigate the creative and projective power of maps and their value as historical testimonies. Mnemonic, thematic, allegorical and pilgrimage maps will be also approached. This module is supplemented by visits to London museums and galleries.

  • Renaissance Painting and the Workshop Tradition

This module aims to inculcate an understanding of the Renaissance artist's workshop as a space of production for two strands of the market: bespoke, commissioned objects and objects made speculatively for direct sale. The dual aspects of workshop production are rarely studied in tandem, largely because of the market forces that underlie the study of art history, which link value to an ideal of autograph work by individual, heroic artists despite the understanding that these two aspects represent the full aspects of painters' businesses.

The module will interrogate, in particular, methods of management and practices of production in the workshop, as well as issues of authorship, questions of the meaning of quality and concepts of reputation in Renaissance society. The corporate approach to making paintings was standard in the Renaissance and recognised by clients in the period, but as art historians, curators and critics, we persist in making distinctions between works by the master painter and works that we characterise as evincing 'workshop intervention'. The problems that this language masks will be a concern for the module. We will look at Renaissance texts concerning art, at the economics of running painting businesses and at issues of politics and social life to evaluate some of the pressures on production, and we will use. scientific data to examine methods of production. 


Entry details and requirements
  • You must be a student at a University of London institution.
  • The cost is £790.00 per module. This is the pro-rata fee from the MA programme based on the credits being taken and your University needs to agree to pay this.

  • Each option module at the Warburg Institute is 20 Credits.

  • Please note that we will not be able to confirm places on the modules until 22 November when our timetables are finalised for term two.

  • We will not hold any places on these modules prior to the Intercollegiate Registration form being completed and signed by your University.

  • All option modules run in term 2, from 13 January 2020, and are assessed by a 4,000 word essay.

  • If you wish to apply please download and fill in this form and send it to