Course Syllabus for "ARTH101A: Art Appreciation and Techniques"

Please note: Our faculty members have indicated that several important changes need to be made in order to improve the course and your experience as a student. In 2013, we will be re-releasing this course under the simplified title: ARTH101: Art Appreciation and Techniques. Until then, you are welcome to work through this course at your own leisure; there’s still a lot to learn here! After that date, you will still be able to access this version of the course as an “archived” course, but we will no longer be maintaining it. Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions at The goal of this course is to encourage you to develop an interest in and appreciation for art in all its variety and learn how to express this appreciation in an informed and critical way.  The first and shortest unit asks: “What is art?” and works toward an understanding of its place and purposes in our lives and world.  The second unit will present you with some vocabulary commonly used to describe and analyze art and introduce you to what is often referred to as the “language of art”: the elements of design (such as line or color) and the principles of design that govern the way those elements come together in an artwork.  In the third and fourth units of the course, we will explore a host of different media (two-dimensional as well as three-dimensional) and take a look at the specific techniques associated with each of them.  The last two units of this course survey the development of art from the time of cave paintings to the present.  We will discuss the determining impact cultural context has on art. Note: Throughout this course, we will use one primary textbook: Professor Charlotte Jirousek's "Art, Design, and Visual Thinking."  You may want to bookmark this webpage now for ease of use.  This resource is an online textbook that was designed to support a course Professor Jirousek teaches at Cornell University.  The link to the textbook is  The table of contents of the textbook, which is the component of the site we will be using, is on the left side of the webpage.  The passages assigned as readings can be accessed by scrolling down in the table of contents.  Note that the author frequently embeds links to other sites in his entries; as you work through the assigned readings, please be sure to visit each of the links she includes. Note that this course is an alternative to ARTH101B, and that you may choose to take either ARTH101A or ARTH101B in order to learn the basics of Art Appreciation and Techniques.  These courses cover the same material, but in a slightly different way.

Learning Outcomes

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

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader of Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Be competent in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Course Information

Welcome to ARTH101.  Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements. 

Course Designer: Elisabeth Miller

Primary Resources: This course requires you to learn from a multiplicity of free online resources.  However, one resource will serve as the main reference and can be considered the course textbook:

The following resource will also be used repeatedly throughout the entirety of the course:

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course you will need to work through each unit of the course and pass the Final Exam with a score of 70% or higher.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.  Included within the units are readings, lectures, videos, and assignments or exercises that we have called “guided observations.”  While the “guided observations” are not graded, the Final Exam will test you on the knowledge you acquired completing them.

Time Commitment: This course should take you approximately 55 hours to complete.  The time advisories listed under each unit title will help you organize your calendar.  Since units are unequal in the time investment they require on your part, you may want to take a look at the time advisories for each unit before you begin the course.  

Tips/Suggestions: In addition to reading the material, listening to the lectures, watching the videos, and completing the assignments, you will need to take careful notes and spend time reviewing to be able to assimilate the information you will be tested on in the Final Exam.  The instructional boxes accompanying the links to the course resources will help you focus your study.    

Course Overview