History of Art


Material Studies

History of Art with Material Studies (HAMS) / History of Art, Materials and Technology (MAT)

This degree offers a unique focus on works of art as physical objects. It combines knowledge of art history with questions of materiality and technology related to the time a work of art was made and subsequently as it ages and changes. Students gain understanding of artistic techniques and methods of making, implementing knowledge derived from material science, the study of technologies, as well as histories and theories of art, media and conservation, including the practical knowledge of museum practices. As well as making use of London's extensive public collections, libraries, museums and architecture, the degree draws on the resources of the History of Art Department's Material Studies Laboratory and media reference collection. In doing so it stimulates intellectual and personal development, and equips students to carry out projects individually and collectively, to communicate effectively and to pursue academic research or take up responsible positions in a wide variety of job contexts. More broadly, it develops understanding of the value of intellectual reflection and of a critical understanding of cultural production.

Teaching in the programme reflects the tutors' specialisms and ranges across the application of science and analytic techniques in the arts, understanding technologies of vision, the materiality of contemporary art, themes related to film, video and installation, the material lives of performances, digital art, oral histories, and the history, theory and philosophy of conservation.

Academic Staff

Dr Hélia Marçal
Dr Hélia Marçal

Materiality in the conservation of time-based media and performance art; feminist new materialisms; ethics and performativity of cultural heritage; notions of periphery/decentring, inclusions/exclusions, in material art histories and conservation

Hanna Hoelling
Dr Hanna Hölling

Intersection of material culture studies, art history and conservation; modern and contemporary art and media; notions of materiality, changeability, time, and archive.


The taught programme entails a variety of courses, such as Art and Science, Introduction to Media and Technologies, Methods and Materials of the Artist, Methodologies of Making, Textile Technologies, and Art/Work/Spaces.

Cabinet of Obsolete Technologies 

(Please note: The Cabinet website is currently under re-development).
The Material Studies programme features its own media reference collection or Cabinet of Obsolete Technologies. Conceived as an aid to familiarise students with the materiality of technologies and facilitate object-based learning, the Cabinet serves all teaching staff and can be used by research students.
The main emphasis of the collection is on technologies of (and developments within, perhaps preferable to ‘careers of the moving and still image’). The growing collection includes a magic lantern, stereoscope, the stereoscopic camera, patheorama and folding half plate camera, a selection of photographic cameras, film projectors, stacks of 16mm and 8mm films, magnetic and analogue computer storage media and a solid overview of video tape formats. This collection enhances our holdings of reference materials such as the collection of binding media and pigments which is housed in the Material Studies Laboratory. The Cabinet is growing and accepts donations.

Prospective Students

More information for prospective students is available at History of Art, Materials and Technology BA