Bachelor of Arts

History of Art BA

UCAS Code: V350

UCL is one of the most exciting places to study history of art in the country. The Department considers the field broadly to include all aspects of visual culture. 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.


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

How to Apply

Applications are made through UCAS. Applicants will be assessed not only on academic achievement, but on evidence of intellectual curiosity, and critical appreciation of visual culture. If we are considering making you an offer you will be contacted via email and asked to complete a detailed questionnaire and short written exercise. If successful, you will then be invited to an open day for an opportunity to ask more detailed questions in person about the degree, to meet the teaching staff and learn more about the course and our approach to teaching at the Department.

History of Art BA applications 2013

Applying to UCL

Entry Qualifications

Grades: AAB

Subjects: No specific subjects, but essay-based subjects are an advantage.

AS Levels: A pass in a further subject at AS level or equivalent is required.

GCSEs: English Language at grade B, plus Mathematics at grade C.

For UK-based students a Foreign Language at grade B is required (apart from exceptional circumstances, when a strong case can be made).

Programme Structure

Year 1

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.


First-year students taking degrees in History of Art or History of Art in combination with another subject take HART1001 History of Art and its Objects and HART1306 History of European Art (1): Classical to Early Renaissance and HART 1305 History of European Art (2): High Renaissance to Present Day. All Single Honours students also take at least one thematic seminar from HART1304 Thematic Seminar (1): Art and Architecture before 1800, and HART1307 Thematic Seminar (2): Art and Architecture after 1800. HAMS students must take between 1.00 and 1.5 Course Units of Material Studies courses (HART1302, HART1303), one of which may be in the Chemistry department. Students taking Single Honours in History of Art and those studying History of Art and Material Studies must either pass a departmental test in a Modern European foreign language, or pass a half-unit course in such a language. Until they meet this requirement they can not be admitted into the Third Year of the degree programme.

Year 2

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.

All second-year students taking the Single Honours, Combined Honours, and SOAS degrees must take at least three Period Seminars, and some will take four. All students will take the two Gateway Courses, a pairing of one earlier and one later Period Seminar,  and choose one or two of the other Period Seminars on offer. In addition, Single Honours, HAMS and SOAS students take either one or two of the three Methodological Courses (HART2001, HART2002, and HART2003) depending on their particular programme. Combined Honours students may be able to take one of these courses by negotiation.
HAMS students normally take two courses from the special Material Studies courses (HART2216, HART2217, and HART2218), and may take more. Single Honours, Combined Honours and SOAS students may take one by negotiation.

Year 3

In the third 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

All third-year Single Honours, HAMS, Combined Honours, and SOAS students take at least one Special Subject (1.0 cu), and Single Honours students normally take two. Some students may wish to take another half-unit Year Two course together with an Independent Study Essay in History of Art (HART3906). All Single Honours students must write an Undergraduate Report (HART3904) and all HAMS students must write a History of Art and Material Studies Project Paper (HART3907), on a subject of their own choice, subject to departmental approval. Combined Honours and SOAS students may take this option. Some Special Subject courses at Birkbeck College and the Courtauld Institute are available to UCL students.

Teaching Methods

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; assignments are often 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). History of Art with Material Studies is a unique course that includes many of the same components as the standard Single Honours degree, but also offers a number of specialist object based courses of a more technical/scientific nature that will be of particular relevance to those interested in conservation. 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.

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, comprises 12 Course Units taken over three years, as do the Combined Honours degrees excepting those with languages, which comprise 16. 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.

Further Information



Student Views

If you have any further questions you can contact the admissions tutor