Van Gogh: Life and Work

Rich resources in Amsterdam allow students to follow Van Gogh's development through study of his paintings. In the Rijksmuseum there are examples of the Dutch School, including Rembrandt, an important influence in Van Gogh's early years. In the Van Gogh Museum, students can observe the changes produced by his contact with Seurat, Gauguin, and Cezanne. The Stedelijk Museum provides the class with an opportunity to see how Van Gogh has influenced painting in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Topics include:

  • Background - Vincent's early years
  • The early work before Paris: Vincent and Theo
  • Impressionism: A new way of seeing
  • Descriptive vs. expressive color
  • Descriptive vs. subjective content
  • The human condition
  • Summary: Changing the direction of art

"Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter's soul."

- Vincent Van Gogh

May apply toward upper- or lower-level credit for art history, humanities, or electives.

Faculty member: Eva Heisler, e-mail

Tentative Course Itinerary

Day 1

 Student arrival

Day 2

0930Class meets in Hotel Acro.
Introduction to materials, methods, and each other.
Overview of the museums for the course, with a focus on museum projects for the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.

Day 3

0930Continued work on museum projects. The visual journal is introduced.
Scheduling of group meetings.

Day 4

0930Review of the Rijksmuseum project. Van Gogh Museum lecture with a focus the project for this museum.
Scheduling of group meetings.

Day 5

0930A work and review day. Van Gogh Museum film - an excellent overview.

Day 6

0930Part 1 of the final is distributed. It should be completed and turned in by Saturday morning.
Faculty member will be available all day for questions. Scheduling of group meetings.
A meeting will be scheduled to discuss upper-level projects.
Evening (Time: TBA)Evening meeting to discuss upper-level projects.
1800Visual journals due and will be returned to you on Friday at the evening meeting.

Day 7

0930A day to work on the final - part 1.
The final - part 2 will be at 6 p.m in the Van Gogh Museum.
I will be available all day for questions. Group meetings will be scheduled.

Accommodation and Transportation

For your convenience, UMUC coordinates the hotel and excursion arrangements for a flat fee of $650 per student per field study course. This fee will be charged to your student account and covers seven nights of lodging (double occupancy room), as well as local transportation costs and entry to all excursions. Single rooms are available upon request for an additional fee of $200.

The $650 fee does not include travel to and from the city where the course is held. Students must make their own travel arrangements to the course.

Textbooks and Course Materials

Textbooks can be ordered through webText Europe - a secure, online textbook service designed to make your textbook ordering quick and simple. You can also receive on-site assistance from your local program coordinator. For a detailed listing of required textbooks and early reading assignments, please see the current course syllabus found in the schedule.

Registration Details

You may register for the 3 credit field study course with your local program coordinator or online at MyUMGC. Tuition assistance or financial aid can be applied toward tuition costs. For more information, contact the UMGC Field Study Office at CIV +49-(0)631-534-800, or e-mail

Before completing your travel plans, please verify with your local program coordinator or the Field Study Office at UMGC Europe Headquarters that the course will be held as scheduled. If you drop/withdraw from a field study course after the registration deadline, you will be charged a fee of $100.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How is a field study course different from a regular course?
A field study course packs all of the 48 contact-hours of other courses into seven adventure-filled days on location, so you can earn three credits in 5 weeks. In addition, rather than taking place in an education center, a field study course takes place in a historical European city where the subject being studied has its roots. You will visit historical sites and museums as well as participate in lectures that bring it all together for a one-of-a-kind learning experience.

The on-site portion of field study courses are also scheduled during registration weeks, so they shouldn't interfere with your other courses.

For more information, please visit the Field Study Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page.

Helpful Hints

Before you leave:

  • Contact your travel agency concerning insurance coverage for cancellations.
  • Contact your health insurance company for information concerning coverage at your destination.
  • Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs of your destination country.
  • Check the weather forecast for your destination.
  • Obtain city maps for your destination.
  • Leave contact information with people at home who may need to reach you during the course.
  • Make sure your legal affairs are in order and leave a short-term power of attorney with someone you trust.
  • Make two photocopies of your passport and the contents of your wallet--leave one copy at home, and bring the other with you.

For more information, please visit the Field Study Resources page.