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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


World arts and artefacts

Certificate and Diploma
programmes with Birkbeck

Enrolment and information

For more information and to book,
contact 0845 601 0174
or visit the Birkbeck website

This programme considers the different ways in which arts and artefacts are made, collected and used across the world. The core modules introduce you to the British Museum’s outstanding collection and to the expressive, material and visual cultures of Asia, Africa and the Americas.

The option modules allow you to specialise and to examine particular types of art and artefacts in more depth. You can choose to find out more about the history of a particular region or religion’s art, or you can take a practical module where you can develop skills in calligraphy, drawing, painting or ceramics.

For these modules, you may be required to purchase some equipment, such as brushes and paper. Birkbeck World Arts students receive 10% off all British Museum Press books in the British Museum shop and online.

To gain the Certificate of Higher Education, you must successfully complete modules worth a total of 120 credit points. Take the four core modules (worth 60 credits in total, and normally taken first), plus four option modules worth a further 60 credits in total.

Option modules: Term 1 (Autumn)

Option modules: Term 2 (Spring)

Option modules: Term 3 (Summer)

Core modules

East Asia

Mondays, from 24 September, Sackler Rooms
Tutor: Elaine Buck

An introduction to East Asian arts with a special focus on China and Korea. Historical and cultural links between the arts of these two countries will be highlighted through the study of objects in the British Museum’s collection. The first nine weeks will cover China, and the last two sessions will be dedicated to Korea.

West Asia

Mondays, from 7 January 2013, Sackler Rooms
Tutor: Roberta Marin

An insight into West Asian arts, with particular emphasis on Islamic arts, from the beginnings to the end of the Ottoman Empire (early twentieth century). The development of Hindu and Buddhist art in South-East Asia will be covered.


The Americas

Thursdays, from 27 September, Sackler Rooms
Tutor: Max Carocci

Examines cultural and artistic developments of indigenous American cultures in historical perspective. Examples from North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean regions, will illustrate major issues in world arts. Topics include the distinction between art and craft, tourist art, repatriation of cultural property, heritage and cultural identity, colonial interventions and influences, indigenous developments, and museum practice.



Thursdays, from 10 Jan 2013, Sackler Rooms
Tutor: Polly Savage

An introduction to the longevity, diversity and contemporary vibrancy of Africa’s visual arts. It begins with the British Museum’s variety of displays by history, theme and medium. These categories are examined by the standard art-archaeological-anthropology approach of regional culture, focusing on art practices in eastern and west Africa. Topics also include post-colonial changes, heritage and tourism.