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History of Art

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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. Our teaching ranges from the medieval to the contemporary, across an increasingly broad geography, with particular strengths in European art, the Americas, Africa and South Asia. 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; First-Year History of Art Survey (1): Premodernity to c. 1600; First-Year History of Art Survey (2): c. 1600 to the Contemporary. 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.

Alternatively, instead of choosing a subsidiary subject, you can follow the History of Art, Materials and Technology (MAT) route. You will take special modules in the History of Department that will introduce the major classes of materials, media and technologies found within public and private collections, and address their application as artists’ materials.

In the second year: 

You will study two core Advanced Lecture modules. Building on the first-year survey courses, these lectures each explore a significant art historical theme in depth. The topics of these modules change regularly; the offerings for 2022/23 are Advanced Lecture (1): ‘Between the Body and the Worms’: Medicine and Death in Late Medieval Art; and Advanced Lecture (2): Model/Worlds. 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 Modules’). 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.

If you are following the MAT route, you will take modules that delve deeper into the technical aspects of art.

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 reflect the Department’s diverse interests and research – in 2022/23, they will include Art and Visual Culture in Early Modern England; Postcoloniality, Colonialism and Art in the British Empire; Black Poetics; Art and Visual Culture in Modern South Asia; Inventing Incas, Aztecs, and Europeans; South African Photography: From Colonialism to the Contemporary; The Social Life of Artworks. In your final year, it is also possible to take one module from other disciplines across UCL.

If you are following the MAT route, you can also take the Art/Work/Space module that enables you to gain practical work experience outside the department while writing an independent research project reflecting critically on this experience.

Dissertations

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

Careers and Employability

Our degree programmes offer the potential to go into a wide range of careers. We have a very strong track record of students finding work in major museums and galleries both in the UK and beyond, from the Tate in London to MoMA in New York to the National Gallery in Singapore, amongst many others. Our unique degree programme in the History of Art, Materials and Technology can also prepare students for working in specialist fine art conservation.

However, a degree in History of Art doesn’t only prepare you for working in these sectors, and we have many students who go on to build successful careers in the fields of PR, marketing and advertising, publishing, journalism and translation, or performance and the creative arts. This is because many of the key transferrable skills that our degrees will help you to develop – in critical thinking, research and writing, presentation, and visual analysis – are highly valued by these industries. You can find out more about what you can do with a History of Art degree here

As a student in the Department, you will have access to careers support throughout your degree programme to help you develop your skills and achieve your ambitions. There is a dedicated departmental careers tutor and a wide range of events and opportunities offered by the UCL Careers team, including additional support from the UCL Careers Extra scheme for eligible students. The University also offers opportunities for entrepreneurship, networking with alumni, and volunteering, as well as numerous student-run societies that are oriented towards specific sectors and potential future careers for UCL students.  
 

Support and Wellbeing 

UCL 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 by the Access team for Year 12 & 13 students. 
  • Support once you’re here: Every student in the Department is assigned a personal tutor, who is there to provide support and encouragement during your studies. In addition, every first year undergraduate is matched to a Transition Mentor, who is a second or third year student from your degree programme, and all students have access to the UCL Writing Lab and the services offered by the Student Support and Wellbeing team. Some students may also benefit from the additional support offered by the teams working in our Equality Areas.  
FAQs

You can find a list of Undergraduate FAQs here.

Contact

Undergraduate Admissions Enquiries – Contact Us