How to use the course


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The course can be followed entirely online, working through the units as they are presented on the web, or using the links on the left of the window. I would suggest allowing around ten hours in total to complete the course; units A2-5 will probably take longer to work through than the other units.


  • In Unit A1 of the course, you are invited to respond to four paintings, noting down your initial thoughts, without necessarily using any technical vocabulary. We will return to these paintings at the end of the course, so that you can assess how useful the course has been in helping you engage with them.
  • Units A2-7 introduce some fundamental aspects of artistic form; colour and line; space and perspective; modelling and plasticity; composition; medium and support; light.
  • Units B1-5 then build on the ideas introduced in units 2-7 to discuss different types of subject matter: the human figure; landscape; still life; action and narrative; portraiture.
  • In Unit B6, we return to the case studies in unit 1, to enable you to practise the analytical techniques developed over the course.

This resource was created with the help of a University of Leeds Faculty of Arts Enterprise Knowledge Transfer Grant.

© Matthew Treherne, School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT.

Pages in this document

  1. Structure
  2. What is formal analysis?
  3. Activities and examples
  4. Away from the computer
  5. Further reading