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Level 8 art history achievement objectives

Art history is the study of the visual arts domain. With the exception of the applied strand developing practical knowledge (PK), art history shares the same achievement objectives as visual arts.

In art history, these achievement objectives are interpreted as the study of art rather than the production of art.

The arts strands work in combination. Together they provide the basis for a well-rounded programme. They weave through all aspects of learning in art history: developing understandings and ideas and applying and expressing these.

Generally, the strands are not taught alone. When focusing on teaching achievement objectives from one strand, teachers will usually find they can incorporate objectives from another strand.

The strands are separated here as a way of helping teachers to unpack the language of the strands and the objectives at this level.

Indicators are examples of the behaviours and capabilities that a teacher might expect to observe in a student who is achieving at the appropriate level. Teachers may wish to add further examples of their own.

Understanding the arts in context (UC)

Achievement objectives

Students will:

  • use research and analysis to investigate contexts, meanings, intentions, and technological influences related to the making and valuing of art works
  • research and analyse contexts relevant to their intentions and to the expression of meanings in their own work.


  • Investigates how the relationship between the meaning and the intention of an art work connects to a range of contextual factors that influence its development, production, and value. Contextual influences may include personal or artistic, historical, religious, economic, social, political, technological, philosophic, theoretical, and gender.
  • Classifies and compares and contrasts the characteristics of art works within movements and styles.
  • Trials art techniques as practical research related to the production of artworks.
  • Articulates the connections between meaning and intention through thematic studies, such as anguish and despair in the twentieth century, for example, Die Brucke, Dada, and Keinholz.
  • Surveys and explains relationships between the artist, art works, and the institutions of the art world in Europe, America, and New Zealand from the past and in the twentieth and twenty-first century.

Communicating and interpreting in art history (CI)

Achievement objectives

Students will:

  • research and analyse selected approaches and theories related to visual arts practice
  • critically reflect on, respond to, and evaluate artworks.


  • Describes and explains the relationships between approaches in art works that cause and communicate meaning and artistic intention, for example, invention and rapid change leading to the development of the Renaissance or the “isms” in modernism during the early twentieth century.
  • Signals and applies art history models of analysis to interpret meaning in art works, for example, studying iconography to reflect readings influenced by theoretical positions, such as a feminist or post-colonial perspective.
  • Researches art works through practical application of process and materials to further understand the effects of techniques.
  • Synthesises contextual, stylistic, and iconographic analysis and interpretation.

Developing ideas in art history (DI)

Achievement objective

Students will:

  • generate, analyse, clarify, and regenerate options in response to selected questions or a proposal in a chosen field.


  • Analyses and interprets the meanings, signs, and symbols within the imagery and effects of art works.
  • Examines and explains how an artist’s ideas are expressed or made visible through their practice and body of work.
  • Expresses, develops, and refines personal ideas or responses to a selected body of art works or an artist’s oeuvre for the student-as-viewer.
  • Examines the relationship of ideas between a student-as-viewer and the artist, which is the philosophical basis for art since the beginning of the twentieth century.

Assessment for qualifications

At the time of publication, achievement standards are in development to align them with The New Zealand Curriculum. Aligned level 1 achievement standards were registered for use in 2011 and level 2 in 2012. Level 3 will be registered for use in 2013.

Please ensure that you are using the correct version of the standards by going to the NZQA website.

The NCEA assessment guidelines for level 3 are set to change in 2012 in preparation for the standards alignment. It is likely that the content guidelines will reduce the 12 option areas into larger but fewer themes or areas of study. At present the areas of study centre on the Renaissance period and Modernism in the twentieth century, including America, New Zealand, and Europe.

Art history programmes do not have to be bound by the range of options or topics within the NCEA assessment framework for internal assessment. Teaching and learning begins with the learning needs of the student.

Assessment is not the purpose of learning but a way of measuring student learning and outcomes. Best teaching practice allows for the intrinsic rewards of learning: gaining new insights, expanding world-views, enjoying looking at and talking about art.

Opportunities to engage with art works might include field trips, discussion, creative expression, which may not form part of the summative assessment practice required for internal and external assessment.

Level 3 achievement standards

  • 91482 Art history 3.1 Demonstrate understanding of style in art works; External, 4 credits
  • 91483 Art history 3.2 Examine how meanings are communicated through art works; External, 4 credits
  • 91484 Art history 3.3 Examine the relationship(s) between art and context; External, 4 credits
  • 91485 Art history 3.4 Examine the impact of media and processes on art works; Internal, 4 credits
  • 91486 Art history 3.5 Construct an argument based on interpretation of research in art history; Internal, 4 credits
  • 91487 Art history 3.6 Examine the different values placed on art works; Internal, 4 credits
  • 91488 Art history 3.7 Examine the relationship(s) between a theory and art works; Internal, 4 credits
  • 91489 Art history 3.8 Analyse texts about art; Internal, 4 credits

Last updated August 18, 2015