BA History of Art

This course is in clearing

This course is in international clearing

Studying History of Art is not just about appreciating the ‘great works’, although a passion for art in all its forms is certainly a huge part of it. It is also about understanding past and present cultures, and the process of human creativity itself.

Our programme allows you to study the tradition of European and North American art and visual culture, from the Renaissance to the present. Studying works of art at first hand is particularly important, and you will have access to original works, an extensive library and collection of resources in our on-campus Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Here you will find works by such major artists as Bottecelli, Picasso, Gainsborough, Monet, Degas, Gwen John, Vigée LeBrun and Rodin.

Students on this programme rate it extremely highly - 100% were satisfied with the quality of the course in the latest National Student Survey.

Course fact file

UCAS code: V350

Duration: 3 years

Typical Offer: ABB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Details

History of Art is an exciting and stimulating field of study with a diverse curriculum and wide application to modern life. Much of our teaching draws on the collection of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, and this is supported by further resources across the University and Birmingham.

Our degrees are designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development – a balance that is highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual and creative industries. The courses are also very flexible, allowing you to specialise as you progress, culminating in a final-year dissertation that allows you to carry out in-depth research into a topic of your choice.

Study trips play an important part in your degree and include visits to galleries and museums. In addition, all students participate in a week-long University-funded trip to a major European centre of artistic importance where you have the opportunity examine works of art and architecture in situ. Previous study trips have been to Rome, Prague, Berlin and Paris and are led by staff with specific research interests in the city. This trip provides a great opportunity to get to know the entire year group in an informal and inspiring setting.

Why study this course

  1. Excellent student experience: Small classes, the Barber, study trips, writing for The Golovine, links to local institutions, access to extensive Research and Cultural Collections and an array of other extra-curricular activities lead to an excellent student experience.   
  2. Fantastic employability: Our graduates benefit from a higher than average rate of employability with 85% going into work or study within six months of graduation. We are first for graduate prospects for History of Art in both the 2015 Complete University Guide and the Sunday Times Good University Guide.
  3. Outstanding teaching: 100% of students agreed that staff made the subject interesting, were enthusiastic and that the course was intellectually stimulating, leading to all of last year’s graduates achieving First or Upper Second Class degrees. Our staff are active scholars with national and international reputations, publishing books and articles on their specialist fields. They organise and contribute to conferences and exhibitions at international venues, such as the Royal Academy, the Huntington Library in California, the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin and the Cleveland Museum of Art. 
  4. Study abroad: Spend one semester at a foreign university - take modules in Art History and related subjects, including specialist topics specific to the places you are studying.
  5. The city: Birmingham has a wide range of cultural venues to visit, volunteer or work with

Find out more by hearing from some of our students.

Open day talk

Modules

Please be aware that the following information is intended to provide prospective students with an indicative guide of the modules offered by the School. However, our research is constantly exploring new areas and directions of study, therefore some modules may be dropped and new ones offered in their place.

First year

This is your foundation year and you will take modules which introduce you to concepts, categories and approaches to studying art and artists, as well as modules which examine the techniques and materials used in the production of artworks. Other modules will give you an outline of selected key historical periods and themes in the history of art, such as the Renaissance and Modernism.

Lectures and seminars are supported with study trips to galleries and current exhibitions in London or elsewhere. You will also take a module in a subject outside of the discipline which will allow you to explore another subject.

First year modules include:

  • Historical Concepts in the History of Art
  • Debates and Methods in the History of Art
  • Object and Medium
  • Ideas of the Renaissance
  • Concepts of Modernism in the History of Art
  • Module outside of the main discipline (MOMD)
  • detailed descriptions of first year modules

Second year

You will go on a university-funded study trip to a major artistic and cultural centre overseas such as Berlin, Paris or Venice, where you will have the chance to access works of art and architecture unavailable in Britain and to study them in situ. You are prepared for this module, and for your dissertation, though a core module on Research Techniques in the History of Art.

Your other modules will allow you to acquire a greater depth of knowledge by focusing on a number of more specific subjects. You can choose from a number of optional modules on themes or periods in the history of art, as well as another Module Outside the Main Discipline.

Second year modules include:

  • Research Techniques in the History of Art
  • Art History in the Field - Overseas Study Trip
  • Renaissance Art in Italy and the Netherlands 1400-1460
  • Art, Architecture and Design in Fin de Siècle Vienna
  • Power, Society, Politics: Religious art in Northern Europe
  • Inside the Gallery. Histories, Theories and Practices of Museums and Galleries
  • Impressionism and after: Art and Society in the Nineteenth-Century France
  • Arts and the Industrial Revolution
  • Module Outside the Main Discipline
  • detailed descriptions of second year modules

In addition, you have the opportunity to spend one semester in your second year studying abroad at a foreign university.

Final year

In your final year you will study a special subject in depth and in detail and undertake a dissertation which also gives you the chance to develop your research skills. In addition you will study two more topics, which may include a module in another discipline.

Final-year modules include:

  • The Dissertation
  • Women and Artistic Culture 1400-1600
  • Paris Moderne 1850-1930: Image, Concept, Femininity
  • Prague, Budapest, Cracow: Art and the Politics of Identity in Central Europe, 1867-1918
  • Fashioning Flesh and Technology: Modernism and the Body in Germany 1918-1933
  • Architecture and Decoration in Sixteenth-Century Venice
  • The Destruction of Images
  • Representing War: British Art, Design and the First World War
  • Contemporary Art: New Practices, New Worlds
  • Module Outside the Main Discipline
  • detailed descriptions of final year modules

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding
 
Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: ABB

General Studies: Not accepted

International baccalaureate update

Please note that we have reviewed our policy on the IB Diploma for 2016 entry and our offers will now focus on performance in Higher Level subjects. For more information and details please read our 2016 IB Diploma requirements.

International students:

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com.

Learn more about applying.

Joint Honours combinations

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Learning and teaching

University of Birmingham students are part of an academic elite and learn from world-leading experts. We will challenge you to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers.

You will have a diverse learning experience, including:

  • lectures
  • small group tutorials
  • independent study
  • and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates

Support

You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and welfare advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Transition review - you will undergo a formal transition review during your first year with an academic member of staff. They will see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support.
  • Academic Skills Centre - the centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) - the AWAS team will provide guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level. You will receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, tutorials and email correspondence.
  • Student experience - our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

Study trips play an important part in the teaching on the programme. These include visits to galleries and museums in Birmingham and the West Midlands, as well as overseas group trips that are funded by the University. Recent destinations have included Rome, Berlin and Paris, and provide you with the opportunity to examine works of art and architecture in situ.

One-to-one tutorials become increasingly important as you progress through your course. This is particularly the case in your final year, when a major part of your programme will be a dissertation on a topic of your choice. Tutorials enable you to discuss your research with your project supervisor in depth.

Assessment methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • coursework, such as essays
  • group and individual presentations
  • and formal exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.

Employability

The University of Birmingham was ranked first for graduate prospects for History of Art in both the 2015 Complete University Guide and the Sunday Times Good University Guide. We have graduate employability rates above the national average - 85% of our graduates were in employment and/or further study six months after graduation.

You will develop skills including visual and textual analysis and interpretation. You will also acquire skills that are highly prized by employers in many sectors:

  • Strong communication skills
  • An awareness and appreciation of other cultures
  • The ability to identify and target key audiences
  • Researching, analysing and interpreting information
  • Handling complex information
  • The ability to critically analyse information and form concise, articulate arguments
  • Managing your time and prioritising your workload.

Throughout your degree you will have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in museums and galleries, both on and off campus.

You can also benefit from our biennial Art History Careers Fair. Graduates return to campus to talk to current students about their careers, how to find opportunities and the wide variety of roles available in the industry. Recent speakers hold positions at the Wallace Collection, BMAG, Sotheby’s Institute, Manchester’s Craft and Design Centre and the White Cube Gallery.

Our graduates have also gone on to work at: Kettle’s Yard, the Bodleian Library, Cath Kidston, Historic Royal Palaces, The National Portrait Gallery, Christie’s, National Museum of Wales, the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Examples of graduate jobs include: Archivist, Curator, Gallery Coordinator, Events Officer, Exhibitions Assistant, Learning and Access Officer, Programme Coordinator, Researcher.

Other History of Art graduates choose to forge a career outside the Arts sector. Recent graduates have obtained graduate positions in sectors such as teaching, media, law, sales, local / central government, management, accounting, horse-racing, real estate and business.

Alumni profiles

Quote from University alumna Lucy Gregory

Developing your career

Employers target University of Birmingham students for their diverse skill-set and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of our wide range of opportunities you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

  • Careers events - we hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities to help you meet potential employers and learn more about these sectors.
  • Global Challenge - you can apply to work overseas on an expenses-paid placement during your summer vacation through our Global Challenge initiative.
  • Work experience bursary - we encourage you to apply your skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer. Our work experience bursaries allow you to apply for funding to support you during unpaid internships.
  • Cultural Internships - our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Library of Birmingham.

There are also internships available at our own cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and network of contacts.

  • Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme - our College of Arts and Law undergraduate research scholarship scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of our academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.
  • Personal Skills Award - our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.
  • Guild of Students - there is a vast number of student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students, which cover a wide variety of interests.