Roger Fry's painting Landscape with poplar trees

"Art can make us completely human." — Herbert Read

Information at a Glance

  • Daytime (Lunchtime Learning) class
  • Thursdays 12:00 - 12:50
  • 20 weeks: October to March
  • 50 minutes taught time per week
  • Tutor: Michael Paraskos
  • Fees from £105 to £200
  • Location: Imperial College, South Kensington (19 sessions held at Imperial College, and 1 session held at Tate Britain on a Saturday morning)
  • Official course title: "Understanding Art"

On this course we are going to look at British art in the twentieth century. In art historical terms that means the 'long twentieth century' from roughly 1880 to the present day, but our focus wil be on work produced between the 1910s and the 1980s, which represents one of the most exciting, innovative and diverse periods in British art history.

As well as looking at major movements in British art history, such as the Bloomsbury Group, Vorticism, the Camden Town Group and British Pop Art, we will look at the way in which British subjects and forms of art interacted with artistic ideas from mainland Europe, North America and the rest of the world, with a focus on key artists such as Vanessa Bell, Barbara Hepworth and Pauline Boty, to name but a few.

The aim of the class will be to give you a broad overview of British art history in the twentieth century, in an enlightening but enjoyable way, but also to give you insights into British art that will help you to understand the work on display at major London art galleries, such as Tate Britain and the Guildhall Art Gallery, which house significant collections of modern British art.

The class is open to all, and no previous experience of art history is necessary.

Course Information

Course Programme

1: 17 October 2019: British Art Before Modernism

2: 24 October 2019: The Shock of the New: The First Post-Impressionist Exhibition in London

3: 31 October 2019: Glasgow - Mackintosh and the Glasgow Boys

4: 7 November 2019: Early Modernism in Leeds and Manchester

5: 14 November 2019: No session 

6: 21 November 2019: Blast!: Imagism and Vorticism

7: 28 November 2019: Camden Town Realists

8: 5 December 2019: British Constructivism

9: 12 December 2019: British Surrealism


10: 9 January 2020: Smashing Pots: Ceramic Art in Britain

11: 16 January 2020: Émigré Artists and the School of London

12: 23 January 2020: Kitchen Sink Painters

13: 30 January 2020: Festival of Britain Art and Design

14: 6 February 2020: The (British) Invention of Pop Art

15: 13 February 2020: Avant Garde Art Schools

16: 20 February 2020: Obscene and Likely to Corrupt

17: SATURDAY 22 February 2020: Meet in the cafe at 10:00 at Tate Britain (not Tate Modern) for tour of gallery 10am to 12 noon.

18: 27 February 2020: British Abstract Painting in the 1960s

19: 5 March 2020: The New New Sculpture

20: 12 March 2020: NO SESSION THIS WEEK ***************************

21: 19 March 2020: British Feminist Art

22. 26 March 2020: The Rise of Brit Art in the 1990s

This course comprises 19 taught classroom sessions at Imperial College South Kensington, and a Saturday half day session taught in front of the works of art at Tate Britain.

This programme is provisional and might be subject to change.

Additional Reading

There is no requirement to undertake specific reading for this course, but if you are interested in reading more on the subject you might enjoy:

British Art Since 1900 by Frances Spalding, published by Thames and Hudson (1987)

Your Tutor

Photograph of Michael Paraskos Dr Michael Paraskos is a very experienced adult education tutor, having taught for over twenty-five years. He holds a Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and also teaches art history to undergraduate students at the City and Guilds of London Art School.

He is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction and has published very widely on art of this period, as well as reviewing exhibitions and novels for BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and The Spectator magazine. His first novel In Search of Sixpence was published in 2016 and his second, called Rabbitman, was published in 2017.

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
 20  20  £200    (Early Bird rate: £180*) £115    (Early Bird rate: £105*)
£155    (Early Bird rate: £140*) 
* The Early Bird rate is available for enrolments made before the end of 30 September for courses starting in October   |   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
  • Friends of the South London Botanical Institute
  • 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
  • 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 the  before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer term
 20  20 14 Oct - 12 Dec 2019 (9 weeks)* 6 Jan - 19 Mar 2020 (11 weeks) n/a
* Followed by the Christmas break

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 1 August

Enrolment & payment are through the Imperial College eStore. Please use above booking link noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on this page and your applicable 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 before your course choice and applicant details are queried on an in-built questionnnaire which completes the process
  • The following email notifications will be sent
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • Confirms your payment, date of payment and order number
  • Should not be treated as a course-enrolment receipt and therefore does not show your course however these details are sent to us via the system
2. Enrolment confirmation Sent in due course but likely not before the end of September. Please treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Confirms your course choice
  • Shows the programme your course is part of as well as the term dates
  • Confirms your course' day of the week & time
3. Programme information Usually sent Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains further course details incl. classroom location and teacher contact information
  • Provides further general programme 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% (16) of the taught classroom sessions. Eligible learners receive their certificate by email after the end of the course.

Any Questions?

Questions regarding the content and teaching of the above course should be addressed to the course tutor, Dr Michael Paraskos at

If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.