Dürer to Bruegel: Northern Renaissance Art c.1480-1580 (Online)


This course serves as a sequel to the course ‘Van Eyck to Memling: Northern Renaissance Art c.1430-1480’, but also stands as a self-contained course. The ten sessions explore the riches of Northern European art from c.1480-1580; artists including Dürer, Bosch, Holbein and Bruegel will be studied, as well as the prints and sculpture of the period.

Listen to Dr Victoria Mier talking about the course:

Studies of Renaissance art from around 1480 tend to focus on Italy. This course will examine the contribution of Northern artists to this extraordinary period in European history, artists including Dürer, Bosch, Holbein and Bruegel. The development of printing in the north and the devastating impact of the Reformation, as well as the continuing involvement of civic and religious patrons and the intellectual impetus of humanism, provided both great challenges and great opportunities for artists. The changes created by the fusion of medieval artistic practices and Renaissance concerns makes the period a rich and exciting one. Following on from the course on Van Eyck to Memling: Northern Renaissance Art c.1430-1480, this course will explore the role that art played in the great cultural changes and developments between c.1480-1580, and the way that artists responded to these new challenges.

For information on how the courses work, please click here.

Programme details

Unit 1: Art and Artists

  • A word about Germany
  • The status of the artist
  • The purpose of works of art
  • The importance of prints
  • Landscape and travel
  • Italian influences

Unit 2: Patronage

  • Art in the cities
  • The Nuremberg Chronicle
  • Civic paintings
  • Private patronage and civic pride
  • The Fugger Chapel

Unit 3: Portraiture

  • Humanism
  • Hans Memling
  • Albrecht Durer
  • Hans Holbein the Younger

Unit 4: Private Devotion

  • The Book of Hours of Mary of Burgundy
  • Private devotion in public places
  • Holiness

Unit 5: The Materialisation of Faith

  • The fabric of the church
  • Architecture
  • Vaults
  • Stained glass
  • Altarpieces

Unit 6: The Art of Dying

  • Morality and death
  • Vanitas
  • Memento mori
  • Death and resurrection
  • Tombs

Unit 7: Prints

  • Technique
  • Martin Schongauer
  • Albrect Durer
  • Durer’s Adam and Eve

Unit 8: Beyond Craft

  • Individuality
  • Italy and the north
  • Travel
  • Internationalism
  • Tapestries

Unit 9: Nature and Human Nature

  • Pure landscape
  • The German forest
  • Fantasy and realism
  • Panoramic landscape
  • Pieter Bregel the Elder
  • Hieronymus Bosch
  • Nature and human morality

Unit 10: Art and Reformation

  • Veit Stoss
  • Monochrome sculpture
  • Art and propaganda
  • Subject matter


We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.


Credit Application Transfer Scheme (CATS) points 

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £30 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £30 fee. 

See more information on CATS point

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education, you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee. 


Digital credentials

All students who pass their final assignment, whether registered for credit or not, will be eligible for a digital Certificate of Completion. Upon successful completion, you will receive a link to download a University of Oxford digital certificate. Information on how to access this digital certificate will be emailed to you after the end of the course. The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended. You will be able to download your certificate or share it on social media if you choose to do so. 

Please note that assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail. 


Description Costs
Course Fee £385.00
Take this course for CATS points £30.00


Dr Manya Pagiavla

Dr Manya Pagiavla is a Lecturer in History of Renaissance Art at the Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford. She holds a PhD in history of Renaissance art/architecture. In the past, she taught at the University of Cambridge, the Victoria & Albert Museum and Christie’s Education. A High/Late Renaissance expert, her research is on architectural history in Venice (Serlio, Palladio and D. Barbaro's Vitruvius), and on the artists' library inventories/marginalia. Further teaching interests include the Northern Renaissance, the Dutch Golden Age and 19th-century art/architecture. Her latest publication is on the library of Leonardo da Vinci, co-authored with Martin Kemp, University of Oxford. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Staff and Educational Development Association Recognised Teacher.

Course aims

This course aims to introduce students to the:

  •  art of the Northern Renaissance (c1480-c1580), its richness, diversity and meaning in terms of its cultural context.
  • studying the art of the period thematically with the aid of a core text and other recommended reading and internet links.
  • encouraging students, both individually and in group discussion, to analyse works of art and consider the role of art in the society of the day.

This course will:

  • introduce students to the concerns (cultural, iconographic and stylistic) of the art of Northern Europe in the period c1480-c1580.
  • familiarise students with a range of works of art and artists from the period.
  • guide students through the core text, encouraging critical reading of the material.
  • enable students to think about, verbalise and discuss with others a range of issues relevant to the art of the period.
  • encourage students to develop art history skills.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to understand:

  • a range of interests and uses of art in Northern Europe in the specified period.
  • the sense in which Northern art was part of ‘the Renaissance’.
  • the role of art and of the artist in Northern Europe at this time.
  • the way in which different materials and types of art reflect or express attitudes and values attributed to art in Northern Europe in this period.

By the end of this course students will have gained the ability to:

  • evaluate the art of the period according to objective methods.
  • identify a range of works of art and artists.
  • think about and verbalise their response to a range of art historical issues as they apply to this period.

Assessment methods

You will be set two pieces of work for the course. The first of 500 words is due halfway through your course. This does not count towards your final outcome but preparing for it, and the feedback you are given, will help you prepare for your assessed piece of work of 1,500 words due at the end of the course. The assessed work is marked pass or fail.

English Language Requirements

We do not insist that applicants hold an English language certification, but warn that they may be at a disadvantage if their language skills are not of a comparable level to those qualifications listed on our website. If you are confident in your proficiency, please feel free to enrol. For more information regarding English language requirements please follow this link: https://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/about/english-language-requirements


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an Enrolment form for short courses | Oxford University Department for Continuing Education

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.