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Processes of study in the arts and humanities

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This free course, Processes of study in the arts and humanities, is essential reading if you want to look at, and think about, people's ideas, practices and products to try to understand what they mean. Developing your skill in analysisinterpretationevaluation and communication is a good and worthwhile investment. Aimed at learners of arts and humanities subjects, you will find this course invaluable whether you are new to study or more experienced.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand aspects of human culture, past and present
  • analyse various ‘objects’, interpret their meaning and evaluate them.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 16 hours
  • Updated Monday 8th February 2016
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Educational Practice
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Processes of study in the arts and humanities


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In this course we turn to the nature of the arts and humanities themselves, and look at the main processes involved in studying them.

Broadly, when you study the arts and humanities you study aspects of culture. You explore people's ideas and beliefs, their cultural practices and the objects they have made. Human history is criss-crossed with the traces of people who did, said and made things and these people were to some extent aware of what they were doing. So all these things mean something. Your task is to look carefully at people's ideas, practices and products to try to understand what they mean. You achieve this understanding by:

  • analysing the various ‘objects’ of your study (for example, plays, music, paintings, historical or legal documents, philosophical treatises, maps, buildings, religious ceremonies);

  • interpreting the meanings of these objects;

  • making judgements of their value;

  • communicating your interpretations and judgements.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University Good Studies Guides [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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