History of Art


BA History of Art

Our world-leading BA History of Art course is renowned for its outlook and scope.


UCL is one of the most exciting places to study history of art in the country  arguably in the world. 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.

Founded in 1965, our BA programme has long offered a comprehensive training in the history of art from the Middle Ages to the present day. While the focus has traditionally been on European art, we are now continuously expanding our geographic outlook and, together with our students, we are working towards the decolonisation of our curriculum. Our specialisations are British, French, German and Italian visual culture, the Americas including pre-Columbian art, and modern and contemporary art in Africa. In addition to offering a broad and inclusive foundation in the history of art, the BA programme allows students to focus on their specific interests both within and around the discipline, drawing from fields including anthropology, archaeology, history and philosophy.

We are a small but vibrant community at the heart of UCL. Our staff research and teaching interests span a diverse history and geography; and we also have specialists in the history of materials and technology. We combine close attention to objects with introducing our students to the methodological and theoretical tools needed to interpret art today. You will be taught predominantly by permanent staff committed to bringing their cutting-edge research into the classroom. Our central location provides opportunities to spend time at museums and galleries including the British Museum, the British Library, the National Gallery, the Tate Galleries and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Programme Outline

In the first year: 

The emphasis is on acquiring a firm foundation in the fundamentals of art history, its topics and methodologies. You will study three core modules – History of Art and its Objects; History of European Art (1): Classical to Early Renaissance; and History of European Art (2): High Renaissance to the Present Day. These modules will give you a grounding in art history, critical thought and the significance of art within different societies and historical moments. The aim is to situate the history of art in a set of contexts that help you understand both its past significance and its relationship to contemporary concerns.

You will also take a module in a modern foreign language, and study an optional module – one out of a choice of Thematic Seminars, exploring a topic in a small group-based class taught in museums, galleries and sites around London. In addition, you will also select options in a subsidiary subject – either anthropology, archaeology, history or philosophy.

In the second year: 

You will study two core Advanced Lecture Courses. Building on the first-year foundation courses, these lectures each explore a significant art historical theme in depth. The topics of these modules change regularly; the offerings for 2020/21 are Advanced Lecture Course I: Rome; and Advanced Lecture Course II: Action/Re-Action. You will also be given an opportunity to start specialising in your particular research interests and select from a wide range of optional modules dedicated to specific periods and topics ('Period Courses'). In addition, you will typically choose at least two of the following: History of the Category ‘Art’; Methodologies of Art History; and Methodologies of Making. These courses will hone your analytical skills and help you identify your key areas of research interest. They will also give you a thorough grounding to take forwards into your final year, especially your dissertation.

In the third year: 

You will directly build on the skills and interests you have developed in the second year. You will write a dissertation of 10,000 words on a topic discussed with and supported by your tutors, in order to develop your own critical voice and theoretical rigour.

You will also have the opportunity to explore your chosen research interests by taking Special Subject modules. These modules change regularly, but their breadth and depth reflects the Department’s diverse interests and research – in 2020/21, they will include Visual Culture in Early Modern England, Psycho, and Postcoloniality, Colonialism and Art in the British Empire. In your final year, it is also possible to take one module from other disciplines across UCL.


We are passionate about doing challenging and rigorous research at the Department of Art History, and we encourage our students to think for themselves, be bold, and learn how to do original and exacting work. Your dissertation will be an opportunity to explore a topic that interests you in-depth in order to hone your critical faculties and clarify your specialisms, be it for potential further study or an expertise required in the professional world.

The Next Steps

For details on:
-Entry Requirements
-Fees and Funding
-How to Apply
Please visit the UCL Undergraduate Prospectus


You can find a list of Undergraduate FAQs here.


Please email enquiries to Eleanor Day, Department Manager, at e.day@ucl.ac.uk


BA Module Descriptions 2020/21