How art works

Language and culture

About this minor

Do you want to get a ‘behind the scenes’ and look into the arts? From classic art museums to major music labels, many organizations and groups of people working together make sure a steady stream of art and culture is at people’s disposal – from posh auction halls all the way to the fingertips sweeping a smartphone. How does this process work? How do new genres of arts and culture emerge? And how do we come to value art – financially and/or culturally?

The minor provides insight into the arts and culture in the broad sense. We focus on both traditional ‘high art’ and popular culture, taking into account the producers, distributors and the audience. By looking at the stakeholders, their relations and the (often unstated) rules that apply, the programme is not just about ‘knowing more about art’, but also about understanding how the art world developed historically and how the arts are situated in society today.

In this minor, we will consider both the ‘high arts’ and popular culture. We will study actual developments within these domains, as well as cutting-edge ideas on how to make sense of these developments and the operation of culture and the arts more broadly. Students who have completed this minor will have an in-depth understanding of how the arts and culture sector works, how different forms of art (from painting to popular music and Netflix films) are situated in society and why preferences for the arts differ.

The first course, Art, Culture and History, introduces you to (Western-) European arts from a historical perspective. We will consider the developments in the arts in (Western-) Europe from the Renaissance to contemporary society (looking primarily, but not only, at the visual arts), taking into account the political, economic and religious contexts in which they took place.

Second, the course Art, Culture and Society considers the arts and culture as social domains. By taking a sociological view, addressing the production, distribution and appreciation of art, it will become clear that art and culture can only be meaningful when considered as situated in society.

Third, the course Popular Music: Industry and Society focuses on popular music as one of the most popular and important art forms today. Taking an interdisciplinary perspective, this course focuses on the economy and sociology of popular music.

Learning outcomes

  • have a wide-ranging knowledge and critical understanding of theory, history and the practice of the world of arts and culture, in the Netherlands as well as internationally.
  • are familiar with the academic thinking about relations between art and society and how art and culture are embedded within larger societal and economical developments.
  • are able to apply relevant theoretical concepts from within art and cultural sociology in the arts and culture practice.
  • understand and are able to critically reflect on prevailing classifications (such as high and low art, popular culture, …).

Good to know

The minor is taught in English. Proficiency in spoken and written English is essential. We advise a VWO-final examination grade of 7 or higher, a TOEFL-test minimum score of 100 or an IELTS-test minimum score of 7.

It is not possible to attend the minor online.

Teaching method and examination

Teaching method

Teaching material
Victoria Alexander. Sociology of the Arts, Exploring Fine and Popular Forms (second edition - 2020). ISBN10: 0470672889; (ISBN: 9780470672884), Research articles, book chapters

Module 1 - Art, Culture and History:

  • assignment (25%)
  • written exam (75%)

Module 2 - Art, Culture and Society:

  • assignment (20%)
  • final essay (80%)

Module 3 – Popular Music: Industry and Society

  • group assignment (30%)
  • final essay (70%)

Link to more information

  • Credits
    ECTS 15
  • Level
  • Contact coordinator
  • Selection minor
If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Erasmus University.


  • Start date

    2 September 2024

    • Ends
      8 November 2024
    • Term *
      Block MINOR
    • Location
    • Instruction language
These offerings are valid for students of Leiden University