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History of Art

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Art History?

Think art history is of the past? Think again!

Bey and Jay

Think art history is of the past? Think again!

How many images have you seen today? On a screen, in your home, out and about? Images surround us, in every aspect of our physical and digital life. As a society, we are constantly making. But how do images and artworks make us? How do they shape society, or influence our everyday lives? And how are artwork produced and used - from traditional media like paintings and sculpture, to contemporary digital art, music videos, performance, and mixed media? If you're aged 16-18, attend a state school or college in the UK, and are interested in art and art history then you may be eligible to come get a taster of what it's like to study at UCL. Our Art in London short course is a great opportunity to explore the subject and find out about the diverse career paths offered by a degree in History of Art.

The course is free for students attending non-selective state schools and colleges, but booking is essential.*

*Many of our programmes are over-subscribed so we use the following shortlisting criteria to prioritise young people from the least represented groups: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/widening-participation/who-we-work

Rachel Schragis, Confronting the Climate, 2016. Digital print from multimedia collage, 193 x 48cm

Rachel Schragis, Confronting the Climate, 2016. Digital print from multimedia collage, 193 x 48cm

Fresh perspectives

Welcoming participants from diverse backgrounds, the Art in London short course will introduce 16 to 18-year-olds to what it's like to study history of art at degree level in London. The course focuses on current issues in art and visual culture, with the choice of two themes to explore in-depth:

  • Art and the Climate Crisis (delivered online via Zoom)
  • Building the City (delivered face-to-face, including walking tours of key central London locations)

Both options are taught through a series of small group tutorials and close analysis of artworks (from traditional media like paintings, prints and sculpture, to more contemporary performance and mixed media pieces). We have limited capacity to cover travel expenses if required, so Building the City may be more suitable for those with easy access to central London; while Art and the Climate Crisis provides an accessible remote option open to all. 

Under the direction of our skilled tutors, you'll bring fresh perspectives to familiar artworks - and be introduced to some new ones. There'll be the opportunity to find out more about career pathways opened up by the discipline and information on how to apply for a degree at UCL too. Interested? You can find out more below...

Art and the Climate Crisis

Module tutor: Edward Christie

When: Thursday evenings, 5-6pm; Thursday 30 June - Thursday 28 July (five sessions)

Where: Online via Zoom with one optional visit to the History of Art Department at the end of the course (full details will be sent to participants)

Images surround us, in every aspect of our physical and digital life. As a society, we are constantly making images. But how do images make us? How do they shape society, or influence our everyday lives? In this short online module, you will work with members of the History of Art Department at UCL to discover how images make meaning and influence ways of seeing.

This course will examine and debate art history’s potential to inspire cultural transformation as a response to the ecological emergency. How have artists both contributed to the worsening of the climate crisis and promoted socio-environmental justice? How might approaches to the arts—including practice, curation, and history—be transformed to more meaningfully support climate action? Aligning with the conventional dating of the climate crisis, which stretches back to the Industrial Revolution, the course will cover the time period spanning the late eighteenth century through to the present day.

As well as an opportunity to study artworks with specialists, this module will also give key insights and tips about what it’s like to study at university, from the different teaching formats you might expect to come across to all the incredible extracurricular activities on offer. We will also introduce you to the many exciting career paths open to art historians, from working in museums and galleries, to publishing, editing, and working for NGOs, and will offer subject-specific admissions guidance on applying to university.

We hope you can join us! 

Apply Now

Building the city

Module tutor: Lorne Darnell

When: Thursday 30 June - Thursday 28 July (five sessions) 

Where: In-person sessions held at UCL History of Art Department and through walking tours of London (full details will be sent to participants)

Images surround us, in every aspect of our physical and digital life. As a society, we are constantly making images. But how do images make us? How do they shape society, or influence our everyday lives? In this short online module, you will work with members of the History of Art Department at UCL to discover how images make meaning and influence ways of seeing.

Focusing on the period from 1600 to 1700, this module looks at the great impact of migrant peoples and ideas on the layout and architecture of the city of London, and on its representation in print and painting. Over the course of the seventeenth century, the population of London exploded from roughly 200,000 residents to around 500,000, when the city overtook Paris as the largest in Europe. Its boundaries grew accordingly, and it saw the construction of some of its most famous monuments, including Covent Garden – an open field before 1630 – and the current St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was called the “Mother City”, and one observer remarked that “London is not said to be in England but rather England to be in London.” But how English was London, really? Together we will look at the Dutch dominance of building, mapmaking, and portraiture; the presence of Africans in the city, recorded by these portraits; the surprising influence of Islamic architecture on the rebuilding of London after the great fire in 1666; and the later role of Jewish and Protestant religious refugees in shaping the city. As such, the course will use works of art as a lens to examine the history of a famously diverse metropolis. 

As well as an opportunity to study artworks with specialists, this module will also give key insights and tips about what it’s like to study at university, from the different teaching formats you might expect to come across to all the incredible extracurricular activities on offer. We will also introduce you to the many exciting career paths open to art historians, from working in museums and galleries, to publishing, editing, and working for NGOs, and will offer subject-specific admissions guidance on applying to university.

We hope you can join us! 

Apply Now

Register your interest

Interested students should register their interest using the above link. We will contact students who have been successful in securing a place. Our programmes are funded by UCL’s Access Agreement and Widening Participation funds, so priority will be given to applicants from groups underrepresented at UCL. 

The deadline for applications is Sunday 5th June, 11:59 pm.

Is it for me?

We're looking for applications from motivated students who are passionate about art and culture. There are no required skills or subjects. 

Why art history? 

We firmly believe that art history broadens horizons and offers new ways of approaching the world. The study of art history trains you to analyse images and hone your visual literacy – crucial skills today as images pervade every aspect of our lives, from social media feeds to the built environment. It also equips you with the tools to understand how images shape experiences of our environment and of other people. So, it’s little surprise that a degree in History of Art opens up many career options. Typical career paths in museums, galleries and education include curator, archivist, picture researcher, arts administrator, object handler, exhibition installer, designer, practicing artist, teacher, lecturer, arts restorer, arts consultant.

But the skills you’ll learn as an art historian – observation, visual analysis, and how to develop an argument – are highly valued by employers in other sectors, such as social media marketing, law, architecture, film and television, advertising, publishing, fashion, politics, finance, journalism…and many more!

Why UCL?

Based in the heart of London, the History of Art Department at UCL is one of the most innovative centres for the study of art history and visual cultures in the world. We're committed to pushing the critical boundaries of studying art in all its forms, and to expanding a global understanding within art history. Our staff and students shape public understanding of art and visual culture through presentations, publications, exhibitions and events. Moreover, we have a longstanding commitment to feminist art histories and to interrogating questions of gender and sexuality, race and class. 

With world-renowned galleries, museums and cultural institutions on our doorstep the degree programme offers ample opportunities to engage with artworks first-hand. And did you know that UCL boasts its own Art Museum where History of Art students benefit from object-based learning sessions and also have the opportunity to pursue work placements in their final year?

​​​​​​​For more information about studying History of Art at UCL click here. UCL also offers a wide range of support both during the application process and once you are enrolled as a student. Please follow the links below to find out more.

  • Fees and Funding: There is lots of advice and information available on funding your studies, as well as a range of bursaries and scholarships that you may be able to apply for.
  • The application process: If you are thinking of applying to UCL and meet certain eligibility criteria, you may be able to benefit from Access UCL, which is an alternative offer scheme for students from groups that are underrepresented at UCL. You may also be able to take advantage of the many events and opportunities offered for Year 12 & 13 students.