History of Art BA
UCL is one of the most exciting places to study history of art in the country. This programme aims to develop your knowledge and understanding of the visual arts and material culture, covering a wide range of visual imagery and making use of London's extensive public collections, libraries, museums and architecture.
- Key Facts
History of Art BA
15 January 2017
Total intake (by subject area)
65 (2016 entry)
Applications per place (by subject area)
8 (2015 entry)
Research Excellence Framework
85% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)
What is the Research Excellence Framework?
History of Art BA
- No specific subjects, though essay-based subjects are an advantage.
- English Language at grade B or 6, plus Mathematics at grade C or 5. For UK-based students a foreign language at grade B or 6 is required.
- A score of 16-17 points in three higher level subjects, with no score lower than 5. A minimum of grade 4 is required at standard level in a modern language.
UK applicants qualifications
For entry requirements with other UK qualifications accepted by UCL, choose your qualification from the list below:
BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (QCF) or BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma (RQF - teaching from 2016) with Distinction, Distinction, Distinction.
Pass in Access to HE Diploma, with 18 credits awarded with distinction in the Level 3 units, the remainder of the Level 3 units with Merit. Or a minimum of 28 credits awarded with Merit in the Level 3 units.
D3,D3,D3 - D3,M1,M1 in three Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects.
AAA-ABB at Advanced Highers (or AB at Advanced Higher and BBB at Higher - AA at Advanced Higher and AAA at Higher).
Successful completion of the WBQ Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate plus 2 GCE A-Levels at grades AAA-ABB.
In addition to A level and International Baccalaureate, UCL considers a wide range of international qualifications for entry to its undergraduate degree programmes.
Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates
The Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates (UPCs) are intensive one-year foundation courses for international students of high academic potential who are aiming to gain access to undergraduate degree programmes at UCL and other top UK universities.
Typical UPC students will be high achievers in a 12-year school system which does not meet the standard required for direct entry to UCL.
For more information see: www.ucl.ac.uk/upc.
English language requirements
If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency. Information about the evidence required, acceptable qualifications and test providers can be found on our English language requirements page.
The English language level for this programme is: Good
A variety of English language programmes are offered at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education.
History of Art BA
- Degree Summary
History of Art BA
High-quality research undertaken by staff, which is reflected in our research excellence profile, informs the content of our undergraduate courses, keeping our teaching at the forefront of the discipline.
We have specialists on all periods from the medieval onwards, with particular strengths in the study of contemporary art, as well as experts in material studies.
UCL Art Museum houses an important collection of artworks, which is used regularly to support our teaching. These include works by Turner and Rembrandt, as well as important 20th-century prints. The UCL Institute of Making is also used regularly in our teaching.
UCL's central location in London is within walking distance of the British Museum and British Library and provides easy access to the National Gallery, the Tate Galleries and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014
The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.
The following REF score was awarded to the department: History of Art.
- 85% rated 4* (world-leading) or 3* (internationally excellent)
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.
A short video with more information.
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- Degree Structure
In their first year students are introduced to a range of narratives and procedures and to the techniques of close scrutiny of objects and other evidence, as well as to ways of combining the two. They learn something of the way the discipline has been constructed, to give them training in a range of intellectual and procedural tools and to enable them to begin to think critically about different approaches to the subject. The tasks students have to perform in this stage train them to work within guidelines and to deadlines, and develop their ability to undertake investigations in libraries and galleries, to use other resources as appropriate, and to write relevant expositions of evidence and coherent arguments from evidence. It will also develop their ability to benefit from a variety of teaching and learning modes, including how to work with teachers and colleagues in a seminar. They also acquire or reinforce necessary ancillary skills in foreign languages and in presentation, including word-processing. As appropriate, they develop an understanding of another area of study, from which skills and bodies of knowledge will in the second and third stages become available to cross-fertilise those they acquire on the History of Art course.
History of Art and its Objects
History of European Art (1): Classical to Early Renaissance
History of European Art (2): High Renaissance to the Present Day
Students must also take a 0.5 credit course in a modern foreign language, preferably in the first year.
You will select 1.5 credits from the following:
History of Art Thematic Seminar (wide range of options available)
Subsidiary courses in fields such as Anthropology, Archaeology, History or Philosophy
In the second year, through exposure to more complex and specialised debates, students develop their ability to identify and deploy art historical discourses. They do this in relation to specific problems and topics, and are expected to acquire a concentration of knowledge within at least one period of history. As appropriate, they extend their skills in the close examination of objects, including the study of the history of techniques in art. As appropriate, they also deepen their understanding of the way the discipline has been constructed in the past, and of the debates concerning methodology which currently dominate the discipline. They continue to develop their ability to write relevant and cogent arguments within guidelines and to deadlines on the basis of extensive study in libraries, and their ability to work effectively in a variety of teaching and learning modes. In particular they gain competence in the skills necessary to participate productively in a seminar. They develop appropriate skills and bodies of knowledge in another discipline, and bring these, as appropriate, to bear on their period of specialisation and their awareness of the nature of art historical enquiry.
Advanced Lecture Course I: After Life: Art, Knowledge and Observation in Early Modern Europe
Advanced Lecture Course II: Histories of Photography
(The content of the Gateway Courses changes regularly. These are the offerings for 2016-17.)
You will select 3.0 credits from a wide range of options, including at least one of the following:
The History of the Category "Art"
Methodologies of Art History
Methods and Materials of Artists
Further options can be selected from within History of Art, and from fields such as Anthropology, Archaeology, History or Philosophy.
In the final year students continue to develop their ability to identify and deploy art-historical discourses, bringing this developing competence to bear on more highly defined problems. They acquire, as appropriate, the ability to locate, assess and use primary sources, and the ability to argue on the basis of familiarity with specialist literature. In most case they also develop the ability to produce an extended piece of writing based on a topic whose definition and organisation is primarily their own responsibility, which requires them to bring the knowledge and skills acquired in the second phase, and being acquired through other experience in the third phase, to bear on an specific but extended body of material, debate or problem. They learn to make better use of, and more useful contributions to, the seminar as a collaborative process, and to accept and discharge their part of the shared responsibility for its success. As appropriate, they have the opportunity to extend their understanding of the techniques of close scrutiny of objects, or of the history and methodology of Art History, through essay-projects of their own definition. They continue to acquire appropriate skills and bodies of knowledge in another discipline, and bring these, as relevant, to bear on their period of specialisation or their awareness of the nature of Art-historical enquiry.
Undergraduate Report in History of Art
You will select 3.0 credits from a wide range of options including at least one Special Subject. Further options can be selected from within History of Art, and from fields such as Anthropology, Archaeology, History or Philosophy.
The department uses a variety of teaching formats: there are some lecture courses with follow-up discussions, but the great majority of courses are taught in seminar groups. These meet weekly, normally for two hours. Whenever it is appropriate to the objectives of the course, teaching takes place in museums and galleries or on visits to monuments. In several courses, the majority of classes take place 'in front of the object', and students can expect to participate in such classes in all three years of the course. Students are encouraged to use the very rich public collections and other resources which London can offer for their own study of art history; with some assignments based around the intensive study of objects or groups of objects from London collections.
The department is involved in teaching a whole range of degrees, some of which are administered from other departments. Thus, in addition to the Single Honours degree in History of Art, there are Single Honours degrees in History of Art with Material Studies (HAMS), and the History of Western and Non-Western Art - the second of these is run from the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS). There are also Combined Honours degrees with Dutch, French, German, Italian, Philosophy, Scandinavian Studies and Spanish, in which History of Art comprises around half of the course.
Tailoring your Degree Programme
The College measures courses in terms of what are called Course Units. Some courses are half unit courses (0.5 cu), some are whole unit courses (1.0 cu). Generally speaking, half unit courses comprise about 20 hours teaching and last for one term, and whole unit courses comprise about 40 hours teaching and spread over two terms. The amount of assessment for the courses also differs proportionately.
A full degree course in History of Art, or History of Art with Material Studies, or the History of Western and Non-Western Art degree at SOAS (which includes modules taught in our Department), comprises 12 Course Units taken over three years, as does the Combined Honours degree with Philosophy.
The Modern Language Plus BA comprises of 16 units as this is a four year degree. Single Honours degree students must take 2 Course Units of their degree in either Anthropology, or Archaeology, or History, or Philosophy. As long as they meet the department's basic minimum requirements for their degree programme, students can take courses in other departments of the College subject to availability.
History of Art BA
The programme is broad and rigorous, making graduates fully competitive for jobs both within and outside the area of visual arts. The department takes seriously the need for students to develop presentational and other skills alongside the specific analytical and interpretive skills associated with history of art.
UCL's History of Art graduates have a record of success in careers in museums and galleries, academia, the art trade, the heritage industry, art publishing, art conservation and teaching. The unique combination of visual sensitivity and intellectual rigour has also proved valuable in journalism, publishing and advertising.
First destinations of recent graduates (2013-2015) of this programme include:
- Curatorial Assistant, The Frieze Art Fair
- Junior Translator, Sotheby's
- Communications Assistant, The Independent
- Parliamentary Researcher, Member of Parliament
- Full-time student, MA in History of Art at UCL
Data taken from the 'Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education' survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013-2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.
UCL is commited to helping you get the best start after graduation. Read more about how UCL Careers and UCL Innovation and Enterprise can help you find employment or learn about entrepreneurship.
- Fees and Funding
Fees and Funding
History of Art BA
Fees and funding
- UK/EU students
- £9,250 (2017/18 - see below)
- Overseas students
- £17,710 (2017/18)
The UK/EU fee quoted above may be subject to increase for the 2018/19 academic year and for each year of study thereafter and UCL reserves the right to increase its fees in line with UK government policy (including on an annual basis for each year of study during a programme). Fees for overseas students may be subject to an annual increase in subsequent years of study by up to 5%.
Please see the full details of UCL's fees and possible changes on the UCL Current Students website.
Various funding options are available, including student loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students whose household income falls below a certain level may also be eligible for a non-repayable bursary or for certain scholarships. Please see the Fees and funding pages for more details.
Students are expected to pay the entrance fee to any admission-charging exhibition or museum visited by a class; the tutor will usually negotiate a group discount where this is significantly cheaper than the individual student discount.
The Scholarships and Funding website lists scholarships and funding schemes available to UCL students. These may be open to all students, or restricted to specific nationalities, regions or academic department.
- Programme Contacts
- Dr Stephanie Schwartz
- Undergraduate Admissions Tutor
- +44(0)20 3108 4400
- Dr Stephanie Schwartz
- Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
A Before I decide to apply
1. What ‘A’ levels (and equivalent qualifications) do we seek?
We don’t have a fixed policy. Applicants who have taken a ‘science’ element at ‘A’ level or equivalent make strong candidates for our HAMS programme. Many of our successful applicants doing ‘A’ levels study some form of the following: Art & Design; English Literature, History of Art, History, a modern language, Government, Politics or Sociology, Maths, and a long tail of other subjects including Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Religious Studies. If you are seriously interested in our subject, the fact that you have not done either Art & Design or History of Art at 18+ is no sort of barrier to us taking your application seriously. However, we do look for evidence that you have completed at least one and preferably two essay-based subjects (which include, but are not limited to, English, History, History of Art, Philosophy, Sociology, Classics, Economics, Theology, Languages, Politics, Religious Studies, Anthropology, Archaeology, Film Studies, Media Studies, Critical and Contextual Studies, Cultural Studies, and Law). At degree level History of Art is a subject in which students have to read both extensively and intensively in texts that are rich in information and often demanding in their theoretical complexity; so we are interested in evidence that you can meet such demands.
2. What is the HoA Modern Foreign Language requirement?
The Department looks favourably at candidates who have a B-grade or equivalent in a Modern Foreign language at GCSE or similar 16+ level: this is a higher requirement than the standard UCL requirement of a C-grade. This is because the Department is committed to the idea that our students should be able to access relevant sources and discussions in languages other than English, recognising that relevant discussions, like relevant works of art, come from a wide range of language-areas and geographies. However, we will be flexible if an individual has made an otherwise excellent application, and might not have had the opportunities to pursue a language at school. UCL’s main admissions web-site discusses the University’s policy in respect to applicants who were prevented (e.g. by the offer at their school), from taking a Modern Foreign Language:
3.What do we look for in the school reference?
We like school references which are as specific as possible about your academic strengths and which give us a clear picture of you as a person. The reference is also helpful in providing contextual information about an application, e.g. an explanation if exam performance has been inconsistent. If you are doing a Foundation course, a current tutor might also be a suitable referee.
4.What do we look for in the personal statement?
Your main objective in writing the statement should be to give the admissions officers a clear impression of what you are like, how you think, and why you want to study History of Art. Write in a vigorous, direct style. Don’t try to be overly clever, but be confident, clear and honest. Make sure the statement is well written and grammatically correct. History of Art is a text-heavy discipline, so evidence of reading in or around the subject is a plus. An interest in viewing art is also considered positively, although no priority is given to students who have travelled extensively to do so over those whose experience of art is closer to home. This is the only part of the form over which you have complete control, so it is important to use it well.
5. I want to take a gap year: can I apply for a deferred entry place?
Yes, certainly. We consider deferred entry applications without prejudice.
6. Can mature students apply?
Yes. A student is considered mature when they are over 21 at the point of entry. Rather than asking for specific qualifications, we ask mature students for evidence of recent, successful study. This is usually in the form of an Access course which should be taken at an OCN (Open College Network approved) institute of Further Education.
7. Do you accept transfers from other Universities?
The UCL History of Art undergraduate single honours degree programmes are not currently accepting transfers from other departments.
8. Can I study History of Art as a part time student? The department does not admit students who wish to study part-time.
9. How many students do you accept each year?
About 68 in total, including both UK/EU students and Overseas students, plus another 20–25 doing combined honours programmes of various sorts.
10. Can I visit the History of Art department?
UCL is an open campus. Anyone can wander round its public areas; and you should feel free to do so. The Department of History of Art does not normally arrange visits or consultations for individuals who want to look at the department, however if we make you an offer we will invite you to attend an 'Offer Holder Open Day' at the Department. This will give you an opportunity to ask more detailed questions in person about the degree, to meet the Faculty and learn more about the degree programme and our approach to teaching.
11. Do you have Open Days?
UCL has Open Days in late June or early July and early September. The University of London has an Open Day in mid-September. On all of these days the admissions tutor is normally present to introduce the department and/or answer your queries. As stated above, if we make you an offer this will include an invitation to an 'Offer Holder Open Day' in the Department. This will give you an opportunity to ask more detailed questions in person about the degree, to meet other members of staff, and to learn more about the degree programme and our approach to teaching.
12. Can I spend time at an overseas University as part of my degree?
The structure of our three-year degrees V350 and V3F2 make it impossible to take time away from UCL. Students who wish to spend a year abroad while studying history of art should apply through the ‘Modern Languages Plus’ programme (RY00)
13. Do we accept Late Applications?
The answer to that may depend on your fee status. We may indeed close the course to late applications for students whose admission is covered by the UK/EU quota system, while keeping it open for others. Practice is flexible, and varies from year to year: up-to-date information is available via UCAS.
B About my application
14. Do you hold interviews?
No. This is no longer possible given the vast number of applications we receive. If we are considering making you an offer - based on your UCAS application - you will be contacted via email and asked to complete a short written exercise and piece of visual analysis. These exercises will be carefully assessed in terms of displaying evidence of intellectual curiosity, analytical and critical thinking and a lively engagement with visual and material culture. If successful you will then be invited to an 'Offer Holder Open Day' at the Department. This will give you an opportunity to ask more detailed questions in person about the degree, to meet the Faculty and learn more about the degree programme and our approach to teaching.
15. Do I have to attend the open day if invited?
Ideally yes, if you live in the UK, unless there are individual circumstances that make it impossible. The 'Offer Holder Open Day' will provide an opportunity to meet with teaching staff, experience seminar-style teaching in the department; talk to current undergraduates and to fellow candidates, and will include a tour of UCL. It is a good chance for you to interview us, as well as vice-versa. We appreciate that for some students the cost and trouble of getting to UCL would be very difficult or prohibitively expensive. All students in such circumstances should contact us in advance. We also stress that this day is designed for you - the offer holder - not your parents. So you should not bring along any guests. However, if your parents want to accompany you to London they are welcome to attend a drop-in Q&A session tailored specifically for them on the day. If so they are welcome to contact the department for more details.
16. How do we communicate with applicants? All communication will be by email or direct through UCAS.
17. When can I expect to receive a decision on my application?
Candidates who apply by the UCAS January deadline can expect to receive a decision via UCAS by the dates given in the UCAS guides for applicants. Late applicants can expect to receive a decision by mid to late July.
C Life at UCL and your degree programme
18. How can I find out about accommodation and other aspects of student life?
For queries about studying at UCL which are not related to your academic life in the History of Art Department, you should consult the UCL prospective student pages of our website for the contact details of the relevant departments e.g. Accommodation.
19. How will I be assessed?
By a combination of (written) examination and coursework. All courses are assessed during and at the end of each academic year, not just at the end of your degree. You can find out more by exploring the ‘current students’ sections of the website.
20. How many teaching hours are there a week?
This varies according to the course units you are taking. An average week may probably provide 8-10 contact hours. You are expected to spend +/-30 hours a week studying, in addition to time spent in lectures and seminars. Students usually spend a lot of their time studying in the UCL library and the nearby Senate House and British Library, as well as doing close looking in London’s museums and galleries. In addition, all academic staff and personal tutors have regular office hours, which you are encouraged to attend.
21. How can I find out more about the degree programmes?
Browse through the History of Art current students web-pages, and for an official and technical description, look via http://www.ucl.ac.uk/academic-services/qme/ucl-prog-specs/shs-prog-specs at the ‘programme specifications’ for History of Art Single Honours and for the History of Art with Material Studies degrees.