Cropped image of Joseph Wrights Painting Experiment with an Air Pump

Art, Design and Science share far more than many people think. Discover some of the fascinating connections between the different disciplines over the centuries.

Information at a Glance

  • Evening Class
  • Tuesdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 10 weeks: late July to September
  • 2 hours weekly online taught time
  • Tutor: Gus Subero
  • Fees from £67 to £117
  • Online course
Booking link

Exploring creative relationships between the arts and the sciences.

This course considers historical and contemporary cross-disciplinary interactions between science, art and design. Its focus is on the productive relationship between these practices in their endeavours to understand and represent the world. We will reflect on the ways in which scientists have relied on artists to help shape and define their observation and image-making practices, and question some of the assumptions about perception and vision that underpin how images are made and used in science.

The course will look at crossovers in processes, skills, knowledge and values between the fields of art, science and design. We will discuss key concepts in current thinking on art and science and examine the social, cultural and ethical questions brought forward by artistic practices that engage with scientific themes and processes.

This 10-week course offers one 2-hour online session each week (20 contact hours).


Course Information

Course Programme

Course outline

The following programme is provisional and might be subject to change.


In this introductory session we will gain a solid understanding of aesthetics, which within this course relates to a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty as an object and as an ever-evolving entity. Our main concern will be to understand how human beings foster and create emotional responses to different object and subjects that are, in their historical context, regarded as ‘beautiful’. This session assumes that our ‘aesthetic perception’ is intrinsically "cultural" and, therefore, relative to the cultural phenomena surrounding specific groups.

Session 2: SEEING 1

In this session we will look at the combined history of ‘seeing’ in relation to science and art and consider how technologies of vision have extended not only our perceptual knowledge of the world, but also how it is represented and understood. Further to this is the relationship of viewing mechanisms to ideas of social control and human objectification.

Session 3: SEEING 2

In this session we will look at the potential relationship of art and science through an exploration of the Hockney-Falco theory as demonstrated in the documentary Tim’s Vermeer and explore whether the notion of using scientific advancements to create art diminishes the artistry in world-renowned paintings. We will look at the responses of both the artistic and scientific communities to the Hockney-Falco theory and whether objecting to such an idea for ‘lack of documentary evidence’ (the lack of written description of the use of scientific devices by artists or by subjects of portraits) or whether it could be argued that the paintings themselves are the documentary evidence.

Session 4: MIND 1

In this session we will consider recent and historical representations and sciences of the mind and how it functions within the body to present notions of self and identity. We will consider what happens when the mind is destabilised, and how this has been the subject both of social and scientific study (and spectacle) as well as creative inspiration. This will span histories of madness, psychoanalysis, hysteria and depression, all of which have been fruitful sources of artistic production and spectacle, from Romanticism through to Surrealism and contemporary art today. From a design perspective, architectural and spatial approaches to treating, containing or managing mental disorders are important reflections of wider societal responses to such conditions.

Session 5: MIND 2

Throughout modern history, many societies - especially in the West - have had an uneasy relationship with the idea of death and its social, political and cultural meaning(s). Despite the fact the death is the most inevitable of human experiences, there is a clear desire to distance ourselves from depictions and experiences of death, likely as a result of an insurmountable human fear. In this session we will look at the way death operates not only as s sing itself but as a myth within different cultures and how different artists have dealt with this as a response to a specific cultural moment. We will look at death symbolism and how it operates in different cultures and the overlaps/opposites that may occur when reading such symbols from different perspectives. We will look at images of death used in advertising and death as a commodity. Finally, we will look at death memorials and how death can be immortalised and memorialised for different cultures and for the “consumption” of different audiences.

Session 6: NATURE

The natural world shares a long-standing relationship with scientific and artistic enquiry and, in this session, we will see how interdependence has formed between scientific exploration, technological design and visual representation. We will question definitions of nature and consider shifting perceptions of nature through history in line with socio-political trends and creative developments that allow us to perceive and imagine more of the physical and cosmological world than ever before.

Session 7: BODY 1

We will examine the body as explored and represented, inside and out, through science, art and design. In thinking about bodily boundaries we will look at concepts such as ‘abjection’, as well as questions of gender and sexuality, following Judith Butler’s argument that gender is performed not biological. Our discussion will also extend to consider ideas of the ‘posthuman’ body.

Session 8: BODY 2

This session will focus on bodies that challenge ideas of normativity. We will look at the disabled human body and how it has been represented in arts and design throughout history. We will explore formations of disability articulated in relation to notions of normality, wellbeing, hybridity, abnormality and anomaly. Our main goal is to study how different artists have used visual cultures or design practices to affirm or subvert the idea of a normative body. Our main goal is to demonstrate the ways in which disability, in ways that chime with our studies on gender, sexuality and race, can be perceived as social constructions. The lesson will, therefore, look at historical representations of disability, studies of power and privilege (Freakshows and other bodily articulations), and the relationship between body, performance and the posthuman (Supercrips and Paralympians).


Technology and creative culture have always gone hand-in-hand; we examine the evolution of that relationship and look at the latest developments in digital art and information design. The Internet has liberated an era of mass user-generated amateur content but, to what extent has this changed the form/s and content of visual culture and the way that we think and behave?


This week we will visit an online exhibition from the U.S National Library of Medicine entitled ‘Visual Culture and Public Health Posters’ and we will consider the role of graphic design in constructing and communicating healthcare messages around the world and will show how graphic design has been used to persuade, to inform and to empower. This exhibition will highlight the widespread and often subliminal nature of graphic design in shaping our environment, our health and our sense of self. We will consider the posters in relation to art, science, design, and anything else that it suggests to you, for example in relation to politics and ideology/belief systems. We will be looking at the full exhibition: Introduction, Infectious Disease, Environmental Health, Anti-Smoking Campaigns and HIV/AIDS and make notes for and discuss each section.

Additional Reading and Credit Information

There is no compulsory reading required for this course, and there is no set course text.

No academic credits are available for this course.

About Your Tutor

Photograph of Gus Subero Gus Subero is an experienced tutor at Imperial College, where he teaches a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Hispanic Studies, Film Studies and the Medical Humanities.

His academic research forcusses mainly on gender and representation in the contemporary media, as well as social policy and cultural representation in modern society. He is currently investigating the ways in which disability and health stigma are represented in the visual cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
20  10  £117 £67 £90
All fee rates quoted are for the whole course.
Term dates 1

Fee Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

  • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • Applies to current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors).
  • Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should email evening before completing the online enrolment form.

Associate Rate

  • Students (non-Imperial College)
  • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
  • City & Guilds College Association members
  • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
  • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
  • NHS staff (other than Imperial NHS Trust staff)
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • South London Botanical Institute Members
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Santander Bank staff (Imperial College Walkway branch only)
  • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
  • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
  • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
  • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
  • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
  • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.

Applicable terms & conditions

Please read these before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer term
 20  10 n/a n/a n/a w/c 27 Jul - w/c 28 Sept 2020 (10 weeks)

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 29 June

Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate category must be selected on the eStore
  • First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
  • The booking process involves entering payment details after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
  • The following email notifications are sent:
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • This is a receipt for your payment and includes payment date, order number and course title
  • Confirmation of your place on your chosen course will follow later
2. Enrolment confirmation Is sent within 10 working daysPlease treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Re-confirms your course choice
  • Shows your course's term dates
  • Confirms the day and time of your course
3. Programme information Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains joining instructions for your course, incl. tutor contact details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Certificate of Attendance

Our adult education evening and daytime classes do not offer academic credits, but we do offer an attendance certificate to those learners who attend at least 80% of the taught sessions. Eligible learners receive their certificate by email after the end of the course.

Any Questions?

Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the tutor, Dr Gus Subero,