You will find yourself referred to below by the abbreviation SH (Single Honours, History of Art), HAMS (History of art with Material Studies), CHSOAS (Combined Honours with SOAS), or CH (Combined Honours with another subject).


A UCL degree in History of Art, History of Art with Material Studies, and the various combined degrees taught in the department, is made up of twelve course units taught over three years. You can take a maximum of four units in any one year. A course unit is an entity made up according to a formula, in essence it is 'standard' of teaching and learning elements; use of this formula allows Universities to measure and ensure equivalence across a range of different disciplines in different places and learning environments. As far as you are concerned, in History of Art, in UCL's Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences, a course unit consists of: two hours of classes a week across two terms, preparatory reading for each class, contribution to the classes in the form of one or more presentations to the seminar, one essay due in each of the two terms and a 3-hour examination in the third term. A half unit course is half of that - a course usually lasting one term requiring one essay, and a 2-hour examination in the third term.


First-year students are confronted with a confusing range of choices and decisions, all of which require their urgent attention. This short guide will explain what you need to know as regards making choices and decisions about courses.

When you register as a UCL student you will be given a student id and a password so that you can log on to the college computer system. This can be done in any one of the computer rooms around college (and halls of residence), or you can use your own machine connected via the college wi-fi system, or even log on using your own ISP.
Among the many things you must do is get acquainted with the PORTICO system. This is the on-line course and examination registration system. When you open your account you will find that you are already registered for two course units: HART1001 (The Core Course) and both HART1305 and HART1306 (The Foundation Courses). The Core Course is worth one course unit, the Foundation Courses half a unit each. For CHSOAS and all other CH students this represents all of your History of Art courses for the first year.

SH students are obliged to take two units in a subsidiary subject (Archaeology, Anthropology, History, Philosophy; note that both these units must be in the same discipline). These can be taken at any time during the three years, but we recommend that you do a full unit in your first year. Normally, if you choose the Anthropology subsidiary, you will take  ANTH1002 and ANTH1004 (Introduction to Material Culture and Visual Culture parts I and II; two 0.5 cu courses which run consecutively in the autumn and spring terms). For Archaeology you will normally take ARCL1007 (Interdisciplinary Approaches to Archaeological Problems, a 1.0 cu running through both terms). The History subsidiary option is normally HIST1001 (From the Ancient Near-East to the 21st Century, this is the History departments Core Course, a 1.0 cu option running over both terms). Those wishing to take Philosophy should consult their website and choose a unit's worth of first-level philosophy courses. All students, whatever their choice of subsidiary, should register directly on PORTICO unless advised otherwise at the beginning of term meeting. One final thing: pay attention to the timetables for the course(s) you choose. When you have chosen and registered for your subsidiary course(s) you will be registered for three and a half units - the two units for which all our first-year students are pre-registered, a half unit of a language (or other), and a unit of a subsidiary subject. You have half a unit left.

At the first meeting of term you will be told about the Thematic Seminars (HART1304 and HART1307). These are small group seminars (maximum 15 students) taught both in the classroom, and in museums and galleries. If you are a SH or HAMS student, you will be given a choice form so that you can state your preference from the topics on offer. By the end of the first week we will get back to you, letting you know which class you will be joining. At this point you will know which four units you will be doing in your first year, and you will be able to complete your PORTICO registration accordingly.

As noted above, HAMS students must either pass the language test, or take a half unit at the UCL Language Centre. HAMS students also choose a Thematic Seminar (see above). Instead of taking a subsidiary, however, HAMS students have two History of Art half-unit courses set aside for them: HART1302 (Methods and Materials of Artists) and HART1303 (Science for Art Historians). We expect you to take both of these. With your two pre-registered units, half a unit of a language, half a unit of Thematic Seminar and the two HAMS half units, you will be able to complete your PORTICO registration.


All second-year courses are half-unit courses, taught over the ten weeks of either the Autumn or Spring terms. Most are ‘period courses’ but a number are designed for particular aspects of the various programmes taught in the department.

We want you to continue to develop a broad historical overview during the second year. For this reason we have instituted the 'Gateway Courses' which will ensure that every second-year student in the department will take at least one 'earlier period' and one 'later period' course. When you open your PORTICO account in September you will find that you have already been entered for both HART2010 (The Chapel in Italy, c. 1300 - c. 1500: Form Function and Decoration) and HART2011 (Modernity through the Lens: the European Avant-Garde, Utopia, Technology & Mass Culture). Gateway Courses are larger-scale versions of the usual second-year period lecture/seminar period courses.

This is a term we use to describe HART2001 (History of the Category ‘Art’), HART2002 (Current Methodologies of Art History) and HART2005 (Methodologies of Making). These are courses designed specifically for SH,  HAMS and  CHSOAS students. SH and HAMS students are required to choose at least two out of the three; CHSOAS students must choose at least one from HART2001, 2 and 5. The courses are also open to any other student who would like to learn about and engage with the issues raised in these classes.

HART2238 (Materials and Methods II) and HART2217 (Practice, Theory and History of Conservation) are provided specifically for History of Art  with Material Studies students. Owing to the laboratory/studio nature of the classes, numbers are limited and there are unlikely to be any spaces available for other History of Art students. Non-HAMS students wishing to take either of the HAMS courses should contact the Director of Studies by email, arguing their case.

SH students normally take four period courses; two are already chosen (i.e., the  Gateway Courses), you may choose the others from the list. You must also choose two out of the three 'methods' courses (see above). You may take all three 'methods' courses if you wish but you will have to drop one period course and will need to make a good case; consult a teacher and support your choice with an email to the Director of Studies. Remember that as SH students you also have to leave at least half a unit for your subsidiary (Archaeology, Anthropology, History or Philosophy). You should contact your subsidiary department well in advance to discover your options for your second year.
HAMS students normally take at least three period courses (two are already chosen) plus both of the HAMS courses (HART2216-7, see above) to which you may add a lab-based course elsewhere (consult with the HAMS tutor); you must also choose at least one from HART2001, 2 and 5 (see above).

CHSOAS students take at least three period courses; two are already chosen. You are also required to have taken at least one of the three 'methods' courses (see above) before you graduate; you can do this in your second or third year - we recommend you do it in your second year.
CH students normally take at least two History of Art course units in their second year. The rules of your particular combination can vary, please check with your parent department, but you may choose to take as few as one and a half course units with us. One unit is already covered by the two Gateway Courses. You can choose up to two other courses from the list and may, if you wish, include one of the 'methods' course (see above).

We have tried to avoid clashes between our own courses and courses taught in departments with which we share Combined Honours degrees. We have also sought to avoid clashing with subsidiary courses taught in the Anthropology, Archaeology History and Philosophy departments. You should ensure that you do not make your life complicated by remembering to check the timetabling of your choices before registering on PORTICO. We do not expect you to take more than half of your courses in any one term and will not normally allow you to put yourself under too much pressure in that way. But if you feel you have a good case for such a choice you should support it with an email to the Director of Studies.

We set up the Gateway Courses so that the pressure of numbers would be relieved on the other period courses, enabling them to run as proper seminars. Some courses will prove to be more  attractive to students and it may happen that you will be unable to get on to your first choice.


All History of Art students have to take at least one 'Special Subject' course unit in their final year. All final year Special Subjects are of one course unit value.
SH and HAMS students will find that they are already pre-registered for a dissertation: respectively HART3904 (Undergraduate Report) or HART3907 (History of Art and Material Studies Project Paper).

SH students will do at least one UCL History of Art Special Subject and the Undergraduate Report, as stated above. You can choose to do a second and third UCL History of Art Special Subject, or you can opt for an appropriate one course unit Special Subject seminar from outside UCL (at Birkbeck College or SOAS). Such a choice will require forms to be filled in, and you should consult the Director of Studies. You may choose to take a course unit in another part of UCL (for example at the Bartlett School, or in the Institute of Archaeology). You may also put together a diet of appropriate half-unit course units in this department, including the Independent Study Essay (HART3906). You may choose to do one of these plus a second-year History of Art half-unit course, or a half unit in another UCL department. We ask that you clear any unusual combinations with the Director of Studies first. Whatever you choose to do you should ensure that you do not overload one or other term with courses. And if you still have a half-unit of subsidiary work to take, you should be careful not to complicate your timetable.

HAMS students will take two UCL History of Art Special Subjects, HART3907 (The Project Paper), and up to a unit’s worth of other appropriate courses. These may include lab-based  courses in another UCL department (to be identified by the students and approved by HAMS course tutors) or the half-unit Independent Study Essay (HART3906).

CHSOAS students will normally take two course units of History of Art in their final year. This would normally consist of two Special Subjects, or one Special Subject and the HART3904 Undergraduate Report. Remember that you are expected to have taken one of the methods courses (HART2001 2 and 5, see above in advice for students entering the second year) by the end of your degree course. If you did not do this in the second year you must do so in the final year.

CH students must normally take two History of Art course units in their final year. (Some combinations allow you to do as few as one and a half History of Art course units in the final year, depending on how many History of Art course units you took in your second year.) Normally you would take one UCL History of Art Special Subject and either a second Special Subject, or the Undergraduate Report (HART3904), or an appropriate one course unit from outside the department (as noted above under SH), or, if you wish only to do a further half unit, an appropriate course of that value from within the History of Art department, SOAS or the Bartlett School.