UCL Centre for languages & international education (CLIE)


Modern London: Art, Society and the City

Key Information

Module code
Taught during
Session One
Module leader
Dr Ana Baeza
None. Standard UCL Summer entry criteria apply.
Assessment method
Presentation/creative piece of work (40%), Essay (60%)
Download syllabus (PDF)

Module overview

The module will explore the landscape, art and history of London from the Crystal Palace international exhibition and the formation of large national museums (V&A, National Gallery, etc.) through to the emergence of London as a cosmopolitan city of global capital by the late twentieth century. It will demonstrate the tensions between modernity and tradition in its urban and artistic milieus, with subject matter ranging from the architecture of empire and world fairs, labouring London and immigrations to the East End, modernist architecture and art (painting and sculpture), wartime London, and artistic experiments, migration and social counter-movements during the swinging sixties. Module content will signpost the social and political histories that underlie the innovations in urban, architectural and artistic practices. Students will engage with a range of material, sources and techniques to sustain creative work and cultivate skills ranging from academic writing to portfolio presentation, including visits to archives, museums and galleries, and independent research.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Have critically engaged with an historical and theoretical narrative which examines London’s urban transformation in relation to the themes of modernity and tradition.
  • Possess analytical skills to examine and discuss a variety of media (architecture, art, museum display)
  • Have gained first-hand knowledge of London architecture and art collections and archives holding a range of materials including painting, sculpture and plans
  • Have developed an interdisciplinary approach to the module material which will encompass cultural studies including histories art and literature, history, politics, and museum studies
  • Have experienced the range of resources available at UCL for research and creative practice
  • Have mapped the development of their own creative work, from inspiration through academic research and experimentation with different media, to the final presentation of a complete piece of self-directed work

Module prerequisites

This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). No prior subject knowledge is required to study this module but students are expected to have a keen interest in the subject area.

Module hours

Classes (usually three or four hours per day) take place on the Bloomsbury campus from Monday to Friday any time between 9am and 6pm.


  • Presentation / Creative piece of work (40%)
  • 2,000 word essay (60%)

Module leader

Ana Baeza Ruiz is a researcher at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), and teaches at University College London, London. Her research explores mid-20th-century UK museum history, specifically the shaping of collections and curatorial techniques in public art museums to understand changing professional and policy discourse and practice locally and nationally.

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