Skip to main content

HA3A8 - The Thirties: The Arts & Society in Inter-War Britain

  • Module code: HA3A8
  • Module name: The Thirties: The Arts & Society in Inter-War Britain
  • Department: History of Art
  • Credit: 30

Content and teaching | Assessment | Availability

Module content and teaching

Principal aims

At the heart of this module is the debate over the role of art and the artist in modern society which took place in inter-war Britain. Rather than considering artistic developments of this period as a confrontation between conservative British artistic ideas and an imported European modernism, we will probe alternative interpretations. The modern artist’s desire for social engagement will be connected with the Victorian linkage of art and civic responsibility, and contrasted with the aestheticism of critics like Roger Fry. The growing involvement of artists and architects in advertising, design and film-making will be examined in the context of the economic and political problems of the period. We will also look at how competing definitions of modernism in the visual arts were shaped by the debates over landscape, national identity, health and leisure.

Principal learning outcomes

By the end of the module student will command a knowledge of key works of British art and architecture of the period and be able to demonstrate an understanding of the structure of the art world and of the connections between art practice and art criticism. They will also be skilled in interpreting differing manifestations of national and artistic identity within an informed historical trajectory.

Timetabled teaching activities

4 hours per week

Departmental link

Module assessment

Assessment group Assessment name Percentage
30 CATS (Module code: HA3A8-30)
D (Assessed/examined work) 2000 word essay 30%
  Slide test 20%
  Engagement 10%
  2 hour examination 40%
VA (Visiting students only) 100% assessed (visiting/exchange students) PART YEAR 100%

Module availability

This module is available on the following courses:



Optional Core


  • Undergraduate History of Art with Italian (V3R3) - Year 3
  • Undergraduate History of Art with Italian with Intercalated Year (V3R4) - Year 4
  • Undergraduate History of Art (V401) - Year 3
  • History of Art (Diploma) (V4P3) - Year 1
  • History of Art (Diploma) (V4P3) - Year 2