Art Appreciation Course Reviews

Anne Jane Waters

Laverton, Gloucestershire

I cannot recommend this course more highly.

My two year journey has profoundly affected so many aspects of my ‘ways of seeing’ and understanding. Researching, contemplating, assimilating and writing about art within its historical and political context has broadened my knowledge beyond recognition. Steeped in a background of the physical and behavioural sciences, my ‘vocabulary’ regarding the arts (despite my love of painting) was a little thin, to say the least.

Gone are the days when I would waltz through our fantastic museums, heading directly to the early 20th Century galleries, seeking the vibrant colours and energy of Pollock, De Kooning and Joan Mitchell or the poignancy of Paul Nash, casting a passing appreciation at the Old Masters, stopping only to perhaps absorbing the blue depths of a Vermeer or Titian.

Today, I am more likely to be found in the company of an Old Master, from Van Eyck to Van Dyck, to Gainsborough and Reynolds. I have developed an appreciation of their lives, the societies in which they lived and the intended meanings (both artist’s and sitter’s) within their paintings. On a recent visit to The Ashmolean, having submitted the module 6 assignment (The Impressionists and Beyond), I found my feet taking me directly to the Pissarro Gallery, where I sat in awe for a full 30 minutes, relishing the excitement I felt at being in the presence of such incredible (and innovative) art - Manet, Renoir and Degas, and being able to tell a story of the art and artists displayed; a thoroughly uplifting experience!

Happily, my contributions to “University Challenge” and The Times Crossword have improved enormously. My bedside table, once laden with novels, is now strewn with mythology, the Classics, and women in art (Griselda Pollock, Catherine McCormack); my enthusiasm is fully awakened and whilst, as a recent retiree, the course may not be life changing, it has certainly been, and will continue to be, life enhancing.


Sofiia Di Beo

Kyiv, Ukraine

The Art Appreciation course has taught me exactly what I need in order to start my journey in the Art World.

Thanks to this course and the priceless information it has provided me, I was able to be accepted to study for my Master’s degree in the subject I love in the UK!

Eamonn McGuinness


Having completed this course, I feel that I have new eyes that view art in a completely different way than before. I now know that I previously viewed art on a purely surface level. I enjoyed it and was aware of some of the historical and social context of the art and artists. However, this course has taken that knowledge and awareness to a new level.

The modules are well constructed, and the assignments are carefully designed to ensure that you really delve into the subject matter. They ask you to really be analytical rather than just descriptive. The word limit for assignments forces you to really consider what is relevant to the points you are making and strips away any unnecessary waffle. This is a valuable skill that can be taken and applied to any number of other roles. Tutor support is excellent – encouraging and constructively critical – and responses were always within 24 hours. When contacting Student Support, the service was equally prompt and helpful.

Perhaps the greatest joy of this course is to discover artists and art movements that you were either previously unaware of or dismissed as ‘not your thing'. I, like many others, always struggled to find Contemporary Art accessible. This course has given me the knowledge to better see and understand this tricky movement. Thus, it enabled me to enjoy a whole new range of art - be it paintings, sculpture, installation or video art – that might have been lost to me.

So, my advice to you is to jump right in! At times you might feel daunted at the breadth of art that is covered. But overcoming this feeling with the support of your Tutor and fellow students (on the dedicated Facebook group) and sensing your understanding grow is a wonderful, life-affirming thing.

Sally Christine Jefferies


This is the best, most enjoyable course I've done, and I'm so glad I came across it at the start of lockdown.

The modules are both scholarly and easily accessible, with thought-provoking and challenging assignments. I enjoyed being self-motivated to study the modules and complete the assignments. The tutor feedback was impressively speedy, friendly and constructive.

This is a brilliant course if you want to appreciate art and its history, have a better understanding of the art world and be more curious about the context that precipitated changes in art.


Femi Bajulaye


This was a great course, informative and constructed in a way that whets your appetite to want to learn more.

I thoroughly enjoyed the details and historical references and appreciated the scholarly effort to coherently bring all those dense and rich histories into a palatable form.

Deborah S.


As an avid art gallery visitor, I occasionally joined a free tour or talk about a work/works of art and was always amazed by how enriching it was to have an insight when looking at art.

I wanted to be able to understand and explore artworks for myself. This self-paced course suited me perfectly, fitting in with work. The variety of the 12 modules ensured exposure to a very wide range of art, many genres and periods. I welcomed having to complete assignments as it helped me hone my thinking and undertake research, which I found fascinating.

My tutor's swift and helpful feedback on my assignments was valuable in helping my thinking and developing my confidence to challenge! As someone with a pure science background, the switch towards a more humanities/critical way of thinking was an eye-opener.

I would encourage anyone without an arts background and who wants to understand art not to be afraid to enrol.

Sarah Jane Ross

Bridport, West Dorset

I cannot fault this course! It has been a fascinating journey with excellent resources. My tutor has been superb with encouraging, helpful feedback.

Each module has been carefully constructed by leaders in their field. I felt privileged to be guided by my tutor's vast wisdom, credentials and art world gravitas.

The coursework was intellectually stimulating and completing the course feels invigorating and immensely satisfying.

My thirst for art history knowledge has been quenched!


Emma de Souza

Watford, Hertfordshire

I loved this course. My knowledge, curiosity and appreciation of art have increased several-fold.

I love the format of releasing one module at a time and have been amazed by the quick marking and extremely helpful and targeted feedback, sometimes within hours of submission, by my tutor Professor Farthing.

It is pitched at the right level of challenge, and the effort will reap rewards! But if you need help, the tutors and student support are very responsive.

I would recommend this extremely stimulating course to anyone wanting to delve into the extraordinary world of art.

Sue Roberts


My knowledge about any form of art was extremely limited before embarking on this course. I just knew I enjoyed looking at and appreciating paintings, sculptures, and art installations. I hadn't done any serious studying for a long time.

The logic of the course, the way the learning is delivered and the swiftness with which the assessments are marked are excellent. The feedback from the tutors is informative and exceptionally helpful.

I have really enjoyed working through this material and would definitely recommend the course.

Alan Curragh

Wells, Somerset

A very enjoyable and instructive course - the modules are challenging but certainly give you much to think about, with suggestions for follow-up books, websites, museums, and galleries to visit.

My interest had always been in earlier periods of art, mainly the Renaissance period, and I took the course to increase my knowledge of this time, but also to help me understand and appreciate the many developments in art in the 20th century. The course certainly achieved this and helped me think about the relationship between various art movements and the inspiration later artists took from their predecessors.

My tutor, Stephen Farthing, was very prompt with his responses to my questions and module submissions - his advice and suggestions greatly helped me think about the questions being asked, how to answer them and ultimately enabled me to grow in confidence as I progressed through the course. As well as learning about art, the course will also teach you much about how to critically think about subjects and how to present concise and clear responses to questions.

I can wholeheartedly recommend the course to anyone who has an interest in art but wants to learn more.

Maria Bowers

East Devon

What a great course to get absorbed in. I loved tucking myself away to read each module, learning the background of often already familiar works of art.

I have a BA and MA in the arts. However, I felt I had always missed out on studying the History of Art in any depth, and this course covered everything I hoped for, with a realistic time commitment for someone like me with a job and family. I also wanted to inform my practice as a printmaker by discovering periods of art that I am particularly interested in. Now I have identified them, and it will make gallery visits even more fulfilling.

My wise, brilliant and highly knowledgeable tutor Libby Anson, was a guiding light in helping me evaluate, analyse and write in a way that I found immensely rewarding and left me hungry for more. My experience of the tutors and staff at The Art Institute was that of being wholly encouraging, supportive and wanting students to succeed in getting the best out of the course as it becomes more challenging.

I really enjoyed the structure of the modules and how they progressed; I was nervous at first. However, the assignments ease you in. If like me, you enjoy further research, there is plenty of suggested reading, and I spent a lot of time listening to podcasts or gallery talks when I was out and about. The modules also helped me to piece together political and social history in a way that I understand, unlike my school years.

Aside from applying the knowledge to my own art, I really want what I have learnt to continue as part of my every day (maybe even doing an advanced module!) I am so sad it has ended, but I now have learnt plenty of resources to continue to read.

This is a brilliant course! I recommend it to anyone considering it just to jump in and start the journey.

Majella Horgan


As an art lover and frequent gallery attended, I have always wanted to ‘fill the gaps’ of my knowledge with a concise chronological overview of Art and its development through the ages. I am delighted to be able to say that I found the perfect course!

Each module is beautifully presented in an easy-to-digest fashion, written by revered historians with a wealth of knowledge and experience. The recommended reading lists are second to none and are very beneficial for those wishing to expand their learning. It can be completed at one’s own pace, offers great flexibility, and is ideal for anyone who is either time-rich or with a hectic schedule.

I was very lucky to have a fantastic tutor in Libby Anson, whose prompt, insightful and intuitive feedback encouraged me to develop critical judgement and how to improve with each module, and the importance of my own personal opinion. Taking Libby’s advice led me to a greater, more in-depth appreciation of Art which I found invaluable. It was clear that she read my answers with attention and focus and provided tailor-made, relevant responses.

The assignment questions are cleverly set to increase one’s depth of knowledge. I learned so much in composing my answers, which was led to further reading and branching out to other art topics. Best of all, I discovered new artists and artworks of profound interest which without this course I would not have known!!

I now move on with confidence as this course has provided an excellent base from which to build my reading and further ventures into art, and my gallery visits will be all the more enjoyable.

For anyone who is thinking about this course, I would say ‘don’t hesitate! Just dive in!’ You won’t regret this fantastically rewarding experience.

I just feel sorry it has come to an end, and I sincerely wish I could start it all over again!

Alison Merrett

Frampton-on-Severn, Gloucestershire

As someone who has spent many hours in galleries looking at paintings and wanting to have a deeper understanding of art and its history, this has been the perfect course for me.

It is a very well put-together package of modules, written by experts and each one a pleasure to read and to work through. You can work at your pace and the supplementary information about recommended reading and galleries to visit has further helped expand my knowledge. Who would have thought twelve months ago I would have been reading books on Cubism!

It has also made me look at art in a completely different way having the social, political and historical background interwoven into the modules. Although I was initially nervous about doing the course as I have not done any formal education for many years, my tutor Stephen could not have been more encouraging. My modules were always marked quickly with really constructive feedback and support.

I 'm quite sad that it's over but would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in art history.

Charlotte Wilde


Its no exaggeration to say that this course has changed my life, obviously not in a dramatic fashion but certainly in a meaningful way.

I am a 40 something mother of two young children, I studied science at University and have worked in IT for 20 years - as far removed from the art world as one could imagine.

I have LOVED every moment of this course, even the bits where I struggled to like what I was looking at! I have fitted study and assignments in around spelling tests, reading books, ironing uniform, cooking dinners, play dates, nativity plays and sick bugs! It has been a pleasure to do so and I shall miss the course now its over.

The support and encouragement from my Tutor, Libby, has been a real help, to be able to read and re-read insightful comments and suggested further reading, spurs you on.

The website is easy to use and navigate, I live in a rural area away from galleries, museums and shops and I managed to do my study from books ordered from our local library or bought 2nd hand online, and used Resources from the web itself - museums and art galleries have amazing websites where its often possible to view a painting in extreme closeup without leaving your home. I would recommend this course to anyone, you CAN do it!.

Cerise Washington


After having taken a career break to raise my children abroad, and then relocating to London, I knew I wanted to get my professional life back on track. Currently trained as an Art Director/Designer, I knew I didn't want to continue this, I knew I had a real passion for Art, the Old Masters and Contemporary Art, and as an Oil Portrait Artist myself, I so wanted to gain further knowledge about Art History.

The modules provided in this course are extremely well written and an absolute pleasure to read, the lay-out is beautifully presented with paintings relating to the copy. This course is not simply about creativity and aesthetics; it incorporates all aspects of history, as well as anthropology, politics and also religion. This is a great beginner course as it covers all aspects from the Renaissance all the way up to the present day; each module covers a different period.

A lecturer at the Sotheby's Institute of Art in London once asked me 'What century are you most interested in?' and at that point I really didn’t know. With the help of The Art Institute now I can give a more detailed response with full confidence and passion!

Living in London is also as beneficial, as I have easy access to all the top art galleries and museums which really helped complete my assignments. I am now going to further my career onto the next step within Art History and Business and feel very excited to get my career back on track within this profession.


Paul Richards

Aberford nr. Leeds

This has been a truly amazing experience and I have absolutely loved every minute! From the very beginning right up to my final module, I have been encouraged and supported in a thoroughly professional way. Also, being able to work at home at my own speed has been a godsend.

Looking at the different elements of the course in turn. Firstly, the modules themselves: these have been written by top experts in their fields. They are superbly composed and really informative (you would pay very good money to buy them in the shops). They were such a great springboard in helping me work out my answers and to encourage me to further reading.

Secondly, the Assignment Questions: these were also really well written and they deeply tested one's understanding of the subject. They got more and more demanding as the course developed and as my confidence and experience in what to look for grew.

Thirdly, my tutor, Professor Stephen Farthing: what a legend! He was amazingly efficient at marking my work so that I was never kept waiting for the results and his detailed comments, for each and every answer, were very positive and totally constructive. I have learned so much from him and I could not have found a better tutor. I owe him a real debt of gratitude.

Finally, thank you to the support team. They were always there to answer all my questions in a very friendly and efficient way. In conclusion, I would recommend this course without hesitation to anyone wishing to learn about the history and appreciation of Western Art. I have learned so much that my experience of seeing exhibitions at Art Galleries has been totally and utterly transformed. My enjoyment of art has increased by several magnitudes and my enthusiasm has even infected my partner. I personally have also gained so much confidence in my ability to write about art that now that I am going to try my hand at art reviews.

Thank you, one and all, for an absolutely brilliant experience - one that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Linda Waite


I have spent my life enjoying art but not fully appreciating it, however, The Art Appreciation course run by the Art Institute course changed all this. The course, focusing on Western art, satisfied my need to understand more and appreciate art and the art market.

The modules are presented are clearly written, pulling together art and social history from the Renaissance through to the 21st Century. The modules surprised me in that my interests prior to the course were convincing in modern art, however, studying the Great Masters was an absolute joy and totally fascinating. Understanding their work and how it has influenced modern day artists was indeed the highlight.

I am fortunate enough to have travelled throughout Europe and to have seen first-hand many of the works discussed, some of which I visited during the course which added to the excitement of modules.

My tutor, Stephen Farthing, was extremely supportive and encouraging. He provided quick feedback to the assignments, with clear guidance on how to improve my learning and apply it within the text.

The online course gave me the flexibility I needed whilst working full time and having a busy life. I was able to structure and pace the modules to suit. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the course and feel sad that it has finished. I now plan to go back and reread the modules. Who knows where this will lead. A big thank you to the Art Institute.

Sue Harrod


Thank you Art Institute, for providing me with such an enlightening course. My art history knowledge has been expanded enormously. The allegory of art has been a fascinating journey of surprise.This online course was a joy to undertake, due to the module design, content and the exemplary Tutor support . My assignments were marked and returned to me very promptly, with comprehensive and constructive feedback. This helped me develop my research and attain a higher standard of writing as the course progressed.

This achievement for me, of a successful completion of the diploma course, is quite an emotional attainment . I am registered blind with only some peripheral vision. The high quality online course photography combined with the magnification on my 27inch Mac gave me the ability to work through this course and see paintings as I have never seen them before. Also, my research turned up an interesting link of artists with visual impairments, that I hope to do further research on.

My greatest freedom and joy has been my year round cold water sea swimming , but now the thirst for more knowledge in the visual arts has been unlocked. This online course has opened a door to art appreciation I never thought possible, as I have shunned art galleries due to my sight loss. Thank you so much to all your team that supported me.

Deborah Siragher


I would strongly recommend this course to anyone that wants an understanding of art history.

I undertook the course for interest, not for career or professional reasons. I had spent a number of years looking for a history of art course but only came across courses that focused on specific movements, artists or periods. I wanted a firm basis that explained the progression of art and put the developments into context. This course provides this. It is a complete overview of art history in chronological order. It also summarises the social and political history at the time, which helps create the context.

The course offers a great understanding of why an artist paints in a particular way or a particular subject and how to read a painting. It goes into detail about the technical aspects of paintings and how styles developed and revealed why the great artists are revered and the influences they had. It also touches on sculpture, architecture and other art forms. I found a recent trip to a gallery more exciting for having this knowledge.

The text is easy to read, the layout is attractive, and of course, it is packed with beautiful pictures. The assignments covered interesting topics and are achievable through the course material though plenty of other sources are suggested in the appendices, and there are sources online. My tutor always marked the assignments promptly and gave useful feedback. The website is user-friendly and has been trouble-free when downloading modules and submitting assignments. I had an immediate response on the one occasion that I needed student support. I have a full-time business and other time consuming interests and responsibilities, and it took just over nine months rather than six to complete the course. I was grateful to have the option of taking up to a year.

The whole course was incredibly enjoyable. I looked forward to every new module, and I was never disappointed. It has been a good experience, and I now feel I have a great basis to pursue further studies in this field.

Isolde Summers


For anyone who has some interest in the history of art, particularly painting, I thoroughly recommend this online course in art appreciation. It certainly widens one's knowledge and understanding of the different periods of art that are perhaps not so well known to one. I was pleased to study the Renaissance period as that has always been a great favourite time for me. However I had to face cubism and other 'isms', which was probably good for me, but I disliked it very much!

I found my tutor, Stephen Farthing, very helpful with good suggestions. Unfortunately, I could not always add the comments by other writers/artists, as he suggested, because of the word count, but I valued his encouragement in reading around the subject.

The student support was excellent. It's a lonely time working completely online but having contact with Lilly Archer I felt I had gained a very helpful friend. So thank you Lilly!

Now I have completed the course I am trying to devise a way to study Renaissance art in more depth. I cannot paint or draw but would love to know more about the detail of 'how it is done'. I hope that I will gain some of that information as I continue my research. One great benefit of online work is that I can remain at home and not go out on a winter's evening.

All in all, I am pleased that I have taken this course and it deserves to be advertised widely..

Richard Draycott


I have recently completed the Art Institute History of Art course. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in art and the part it has played in our culture through the centuries.

It provides a framework that helps to focus on the artists, their genre and their importance to us today with well-written modules created by authoritative figures in their field. The modules provide details of further reading and list the galleries where particular works of art can be viewed, all of which helped me to absorb myself in the subject.

My tutor, Stephen Farthing, encouraged me with his helpful advice, which enabled me to provide clear, concise answers to the various modules. The course is very flexible and helped me to fit the study into my busy life.

Isabel Anne Hill


This course proved to be a gift from the gods for me. As a teenager with absolutely no artistic skills, I was fortunate enough to have an art teacher who introduced me to the pleasure of looking at pictures, a pleasure that, despite a very un-artistic working life, has remained with me and involved looking at art in such diverse places as China, British Columbia, the Lake District, France, Macedonia, Liverpool, Sheffield, Greece, Wolverhampton, the stately homes, particularly Chatsworth, to name a few.

When my husband and close companion died after a long illness, I was left desperately seeking something to meaningfully fill my life. Almost by chance, I came across this course. Having done no serious studying for 30 years, being barely computer literate and aged 82, I was very unsure of my ability to undertake such a course.

I was swept off my feet by the real pleasure, interest and stimulation of each beautifully presented module. The friendly, prompt response to each query, the speedy tutorial comment on each assignment kept me going. I could hardly wait to look at the next module. I have a small public library almost across the road, which supplemented my reading, providing books on request almost at once.

I found areas of interest I hadn't even thought about, for example, the art market and found the links between art and world affairs intriguing.

Tempted? Hold your nose and jump in. Water wings and lifeguards WILL be supplied

Janet Brown


For some time I have wanted to know more about art but time and in my case, mobility difficulties, made it hard for me to pursue my interest in any formal way. I was therefore delighted when I spotted an advertisement for an online Art Appreciation Course run by The Art Institute. This Course has provided me with a great oversight of art over the centuries and I really feel I have been on a fascinating journey starting back in time and travelling up to the present day. On the way I have learned so much about art and artists - some familiar, some not - but all equally interesting.

The ability to study at ones own pace, with no pressure, and in the comfort of ones own home is a big plus: each of the twelve modules are extremely well written by experts and every student has a designated tutor who is always easily available to help with the course work and who marks the assignments very promptly, giving helpful comments where necessary.

It was really easy to enrol and there are optional ways to pay for the Course, which is helpful.  I also feel the cost is extremely reasonable, given the overall quality of the Course.  The website is very easy to navigate and any queries regarding this are answered promptly by the Student Support team.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working through this Course and highly recommend it to anyone who has even a modest interest in learning more about the captivating subject of Art. Although I embarked on the Course purely for my own interest, I know I now have enough knowledge to pursue the subject further and, thanks to this Course, feel sufficiently confident to do so.

Colin Marsh


As someone who spent a lot of time visiting art galleries without having much real formal or historical understanding of art, I felt it was time to learn more. Newly retired, I knew I would enjoy studying, but I also wanted to enrich my leisure time. When I was looking for courses, the Art Institute programme seemed to have a clear structure with a logical progression through periods and movements; this suited me perfectly.

So I opted for it, and, now that I have completed it, it was unquestionably the right decision. The modules offer a condensed survey of their themes and are clear and helpful. Still, I found the suggestions for further reading just as useful: they provided an extra dimension to visits to bookshops and libraries. There are also stimulating resources readily available on the Internet, for example, gallery websites, talks, exhibition reviews and good-quality reproductions of highlighted artworks. The information about the galleries and museums where the art may be seen, given at the end of each module, was also useful and proved invaluable on a recent visit to Florence and Venice. As with any course of study, I would say that, while it would be possible to complete the assignments using just the module resources provided, and these are a very good guide, further exploration allows you to acquire a deeper and more detailed understanding of artists, works of art and artistic movements, in particular, their connection to political and social events and developments in other fields such as literature.

The course assignments require verbal economy. To condense an answer to an interesting question into little more than 250 words is a very good (but by no means easy) discipline to acquire; such succinctness demands a sharp self-critical review. The Art Institute course has given me just what I wanted, a better overview of the history of Western art and a better understanding of how to look at and respond to artworks. In particular, it has made me confront styles and movements that would once have held little appeal and enabled me, through better awareness, to enjoy them. It has opened my eyes; this is a great service.

I feel equipped and sufficiently confident to take the study of art to the next level. This is due in no small part to the excellent support, comment and encouragement from my tutor, Stephen Farthing. One thing I can promise anyone who opts for this course is that you will not be kept waiting for your mark and comments on work submitted: in just about every case, they came back within 24 hours, which is motivating. It also gave the experience of online study a vital personal touch.

I fully recommend this course: I will miss it.

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