BA HAMS (History of Art with Material Studies)

History of Art with Material Studies BA

UCAS Code: V3F2

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, covering a wide range of visual imagery and making use of London's extensive public collections, libraries, museums and architecture.

The History of Art Department at UCL offers a History of Art with Materials Studies single honours degree as part of its BA programme. The distinctive characteristic of this course is that it combines a full programme in the history of art with a unique focus on works of art as physical objects. This gives the students comprehensive skills in art history, together with a thorough understanding of artists’ techniques and questions of materiality, both at the time a work of art was made, and subsequently as it ages and deteriorates.


  1. How to Apply
  2. Entry Qualifications
  3. Programme Structure
  4. Teaching Methods
  5. Future Careers
  6. Further Information (includes FAQs)

How to apply

All candidates should apply through UCAS ( Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) in the normal way.

The UCAS closing date for applications is usually mid-January (the preceding mid-October for courses at Oxford or Cambridge University) and interviews at UCL usually take place between December and March.

History of Art with Material Studies applications 2013

Applying to UCL

Entry Qualifications

Applications to study at UCL can be pre-A-level to mature students, and students from abroad with non-British qualifications. Entry is highly competitive, but the department looks sympathetically on those who, for good reasons, lack the normal qualifications. A typical A-level offer would be ABB.

There is no requirement to have studied art history as an examined subject before. History, English or a language taken to a higher level would be an advantage, as would a GCSE in chemistry, although the first year course ‘Science for Art Historians’ is available to those without science-based qualifications. Students with physics or chemistry at A level (or an equivalent international qualification) are not required to take the Science for Art Historians course.

Candidates are normally required to have a GCSE grade B pass (or the equivalent) in one foreign language and students are tested on their reading ability in at least one language in the first year of the programme.

Programme Structure

First Year

HART1001 History of Art and its Objects: an introduction to a range of skills required to study the History of Art, including the first-hand study of works of art. It is designed to familiarise students with some current debates in the subject, and introduce them to a variety of theoretical positions of which they need to be aware in the course of their degree.

HART1303 Science for Art Historians: a basic science course for non-scientists, to give students an understanding of the physical and chemical behaviour of artists’ materials.

HART1302 Methods and Materials I: an introduction to the major classes of materials found within museum collections, addressing their application as artists' materials.

HART1306 History of European Art (1): Classical to Early Renaissance

HART1305 History of European Art (2): High Renaissance to Present Day:  an introduction to the dominant narrative of art history as an historical development ('the canon'), at the same time students are encouraged to look at that model critically. The subject matter of the lecture series ranges from classical to contemporary art. Space is also given to categories outside the conventional canon.

Second Year

HART2001 Category Art: aims to familiarise students with the way in which the concept of art has evolved in the European world, especially since the Renaissance. It examines the emergence of Aesthetics as a distinct branch of philosophy in the eighteenth century, and subsequent developments, especially in relation to the role of the category Art in Modernism.

or HART2002 Methodologies: a text-based course to introduce students to a variety of different methodologies and approaches current in the discipline. Through lectures, seminars and weekly reading tasks students learn to identify and evaluate different kinds of art historical writing.

HART2005 Methodologies of Making: a text-based course to introduce students more specifically to a variety of different methodologies and approaches concerning aspects of making. It introduces the experimental system of art production, curating, or conservation: theories connected to the producers, spaces of making and doing, tools, materiality, things, economics, installation, or the workings of art institutions, eg the fields that determine the many practices of art history. Through lectures, weekly readings and group tasks students will discuss various aspects of this field and challenge dominant modes of art history.

HART2238 Methods and Materials II: This course will expand on, and extend, the materials and methodologies covered during the first year’s course, presenting an overview of the major classes of materials found within museum collections, and addressing their application as artist’s materials.

HART2217 History and Theory of Conservation: This course comprises field trips to the V&A, The National Gallery, Tate Modern, and Whitechapel Gallery with the consideration of the intellectual framework within which contemporary conservation practices need to be established: It focuses on the history of the profession, on related institutions, and on issues of materiality and replication since the long nineteenth century. Which politics are attached to conservation? How could ephemeral artworks be preserved? And do we really need to embalm everything? How about the punk slogan "search and destroy"?

HART2239 The Development and Application of Textiles in Works of Art and Artifacts:  This course will combine both theoretical and practical approaches to the understanding of textiles, their properties and their application as artistic media. By examining the history and development of textile, we will begin to map their usage through the centuries to the present day, and their application within art and design. We will explore the physical properties of fibres, yearns and textiles, investigate the implications for fabrication, and understand what impact this has on their visual nature.

Third Year

HART3907 HAMS Project Paper: all HAMS students write a HAMS research project to a maximum of 10,000 words. The content of this paper can vary depending on the interest of each student. It can have a technical element, combined with art historical research, or focus on theoretical or historical issues alone.

HART 3111 Art/Work/Spaces:  this module enables students to gain work experiences outside of the department (current parnters are the UCL Art Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Wellcome Collection (prints and drawings), and the Whitechapel Gallery) while writing an independent research project of 5,000-words reflecting critically on the practical experience.

Students may also take units from outside History of Art in departments such as anthropology, archaeology, or history with the agreement of the department concerned and their course tutors.

Teaching Methods

Students are taught in small groups both within and outside the department. Seminar discussions and assessments of the impassioned debates run alongside practical experiments, designed to give the students first-hand experience of artists’ materials.

Students often also get an opportunity to go ‘behind the scenes’ to visit conservation studios and on-site conservation projects, gallery stores, and artists’ studios.

Future careers

The programme provides students with an excellent basis for any career dealing at first hand with works of art, such as academics, museum and gallery curators and registrars, art dealers, valuers and auctioneers. It is also a good foundation for those wishing to take up further training in any discipline within art conservation.

In addition, any of the professions dealing with art would benefit from the expertise gained from the training HAMS courses offer, and students have taken up careers in education, journalism, television and the film industry. The programme can also be a springboard for graduate research into a comparatively unexplored area of art history.

Further Information



Student Views

You can contact the HAMS Directors, Dr Emma Richardson or Dr Petra Lange-Berndt, for more information regarding the course.