HSD109 – Introduction to Islamic Art


  • Historical overview and Historiography of Islamic Art
  • Calligraphy and calligraphic art of the Qur’an
  • Arts of the book: Painted and illuminated manuscripts
  • Painting and figural representation in Islam
  • Ceramics
  • Metalwork
  • Islamic ornament: Geometry, Arabesque
  • Muslim places of worship and devotion: mosques and shrines
  • Urban planning: Baths,  Gardens and Palaces   Funerary landscape: tombs and mausoleums

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Analyse Islamic Art theme based on religious, theological and philosophical aspects (A6)
  • Examine important factors related to aesthetic appreciation of Islamic Art (A4)

This module will call for the successful student to:

  • Identify and evaluate ideas about different aspects of Islamic Art by gathering and processing information and Artwork from a variety of sources (B5, C4, C5, D2, D3, D6)
  • Formulate written material accurately in the form of a catalogue entry on a museum artefact effectively (B6, C6, D3,D4)

Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy

The main means of course delivery will be through lectures, seminars, presentations, class discussions and exercises. Students are required to write cultural visit reports encouraging analysis and critical reflection. Using a variety of material, teaching is organised around themes such as a region (Syria, or Iran), a chronological period (1st Century of Islam), or a topic (royal iconography).

Assessment strategy
Formative assessment will be by means of discussions, and continuous questioning cultural visits and theoretical aspects of the course syllabus. Revision sessions are arranged that will cover topics in preparation for exams, providing constructive formative feedback to students.  Students may hand in their PowerPoint slides to the lecturer for guidance prior to the 9th learning week. They will also receive formative feedback on their presentations after completing them, and guidance and feedback can be gained from student-led discussion, which will help them improve future performance.
Summative assessment is by presentation and the written report. The 20 minute presentation will require students to convey their research on an agreed area of the course in an effective manner, and should consist of roughly 10 PowerPoint slides (Outcome 2, 3). The written report on the cultural visit made will require the student to write 1,500  words examining topics covered as part of the module. (Outcomes 1,4).

Assessment Weighting 
Written report: 50%
Presentation: 50%

Learning Materials

Core Readings 

  • Hillenbrand R. (1999) Islamic Art and Architecture:The World of Art, New York: Thames and Hudson.
  • http://www. discoverislamicart.org