BA Anthropology and History of Art

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As a BA Anthropology and History of Art student you will be able to choose from a range of modules across both subjects, which gives you great flexibility and the option to pursue the areas that interest you most. You will learn from renowned experts in their field and be encouraged to pursue your own interests, and develop skills that will give you the edge in the job market.

The Department of African studies and Anthropology at the University of Birmingham is the only one of its kind in the world. Studying Anthropology will enable you to develop a distinctive set of skills and attributes. Like other students, you will learn how to search for, select from and evaluate sources of information, weigh up arguments, and present your findings effectively. As an anthropologist however, you will also become sensitive to the assumptions and beliefs that underlie behaviour in a range of social and cultural contexts, and this gives you a critical edge. 

The History of Art element of your programme isn’t 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. This is your opportunity to study in great depth 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 the original works in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, an award-winning art gallery on the University campus, as well as the Institute’s extensive library and visual resources.

Studying two subjects makes you very attractive to a wide range of employers as you are able to bring together expertise across two different disciplines.

Course fact file

UCAS code: LV63

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

In this programme, you study half of your modules (60 credits) in Anthropology and half in History of Art (60 credits)

First Year

Anthropology: In your first year you take three compulsory modules. Focus on Studying Societies is concerned with core study skills, taking you through all the steps of researching, planning and editing an essay, and enabling you to pursue a group investigation and present your findings orally. Thinking Anthropologically takes a series of core questions (e.g. What is work? What is dirt?) and shows how anthropologists study societies around the world, explaining how people can think very differently about questions that might initially appear simple or obvious.   African Societies allows students to see how core anthropological terms have been applied to specific societies in order to explain social structures, behaviours and beliefs. 

History of Art: The first year serves as a foundation for the subject. Approaches to the History of Art introduces the methods and concepts employed in the study of art history. Other modules provide an outline of selected key historical periods and themes in the history of art such as Romanticism, Realism, the Renaissance, Modernism or the Enlightenment. Lectures and seminars are supported with study trips to galleries and current exhibitions in London or elsewhere.

The first year modules include:

  • Approaches to the History of Art
  • Object and Medium
  • Ideas of the Renaissance
  • Concept of Modernism in the History of Art
  • Enlightenment and its Discontents
  • The Real Realism
  • Romanticism and the Idea of Romantic Art

Second year

Anthropology: In this year you take Theory, Ethnography and Research (40 credits). This module explains the history of anthropology and its major theories. It finishes with an ethnographic project in which students behave like anthropologists, and engage in close observation and analysis of the social behaviour around them. In addition, students choose 20 credits of African Studies optional modules that have an anthropological focus.

History of Art: The second year is structured to allow you to acquire greater depth by focusing a number of more specific subjects. You will have the opportunity to choose from a number of optional modules on themes or periods in the history of art. These are supported by a module on research techniques in the history of art as well as a study trip to a major artistic and cultural centre overseas, where you will have the opportunity to access works of art and architecture unavailable in Britain and to study them in situ.

The second year modules include:

  •  Renaissance Art in Italy and the Netherlands 1400-1460
  •  Art, Architecture and Design in Fin de Siècle Vienna
  •  Real and Ideal: Art and Society in Mid Nineteenth-Century France
  •  Prague, Cracow, Budapest. Art, Architecture and Politics in Central Europe, 1867-1918
  •  Inside the Gallery. Histories, Theories and Practices of Museums and Galleries
  • Research Techniques in the History of Art
  • Art History in the Field – Overseas Study Trip

Third year

Anthropology: In your third year, you may write a Dissertation (10,000 words, 40 credits) or take an Independent Study (5,000 words, 20 credits). However, if you are undertaking independent research on the other side of your degree programme, we allow you to choose mainly taught modules in Anthropology, so as to guarantee a reasonable amount of contact time. 

  • Download the programme brochure for Joint Honours Anthropology to find out more about the course structure

History of Art: In the third year you focus on a special subject, which you study in depth and detail. In addition you have the opportunity to develop your research skills in a short Dissertation, a 6,000 word piece of writing on a topic of your own choice. Final year modules include:

  •  The Special Subject. Recent subjects have included: Michelangelo; British Landscape Painting 1750-1860; Inside Out. Interiors and Interiority in French Art, Design, and Visual Culture 1840-1940; Contemporary Visual Arts and Postcolonialism; After Modernism. Art and Culture since the 1970s
  •  The Short Dissertation

Why study this course

Studying Anthropology will enable you to develop a distinctive set of skills and attributes. Like other students, you will learn how to search for, select from and evaluate sources of information, weigh up arguments, and present your findings effectively. As an anthropologist however, you will also become sensitive to the assumptions and beliefs that underlie behaviour in a range of social and cultural contexts, and this gives you a critical edge. The staff who teach Anthropology at Birmingham are based in the School of History and Cultures and the Department of African Studies and Anthropology. These members of staff have lived and taught in countries beyond Western Europe, and have a range of language skills acquired through intensive ethnographic field work. As part of s small cohort of students, you will benefit from being taught by practising anthropologists and learning about their research experiences. 

  •  The Department of African studies and Anthropology (incorporating the Centre for West African Studies) at the University of Birmingham is the only one of its kind in the world.
  •  All staff have lived and worked in Africa, so you get the benefit of their invaluable first-hand experience.
  •  Teaching programmes are grounded in the African people's own view of the continent and the world.
  • Student satisfaction scores for African Studies at Birmingham are very high, with 93% of students reporting that they are satisfied with the quality of the course.
  •  The University of Birmingham is first for employability nationally for all African Studies degree courses. 86% of African Studies graduates who graduated in 2011 were in graduate-level jobs or further study six months after graduating.
  •  The Danford Collection is a nationally important collection of African Art and Artefacts that celebrates and showcases the extensive array of cultural traditions and artistic expression from the countries in Africa. 
  •  CWASSOC is very active in organising social events, for example the biannual Afrika Jam. It also arranges excursions to places and events of interest (for example the Slavery Gallery at the Maritime Museum in Liverpool). 

Hannah Patterson (second year Joint Honours Anthropology)

African Studies, Anthropology and Development at Birmingham
June 2013 open day talk given by Dr Maxim Bolt

The Joint Honours programme in History of Art provides an opportunity to study in depth European and North American art and visual culture from the Renaissance to the present. You will examine them in their social, cultural and political contexts, employing a wide range of approaches; particular importance is given to the study of works of art at first hand, in order to provide a critical appreciation of them as material objects, and also to help you develop your skills of visual analysis. Much of the teaching draws on the collection of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, and this is supported by the rich resources available elsewhere in Birmingham, including Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, one of the major regional British art museums, and the IKON gallery, one of the leading galleries of contemporary art.

  • The Department is located in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, one of the world's finest small art galleries giving you access to internally important collections of paintings, sculptures and rare coins.
  • Students are eligible to participate in The Barber's Institute of Education Programmes. This scheme involves the assisting of teaching of local school groups.
  • The Barber Fine Art Library contacts is the largest resource of it's kind in the region with over 60,000 volumes on art historical subjects.
  • There is the opportunity to be selected for one of the Barber Bursaries for six months of funded training in curatorial, education and marketing aspects of gallery work.
  • The second year includes a study trip abroad to a major art historical centre such as Berlin, Paris, Rome or Venice.

History of Art open day talk

Dr Elizabeth L'Estrange delivers the 2013 undergraduate open day talk on studying History of Art at the University of Birmingham.

Joint honours open day talk

Dr Craig Blunt delivers an undergraduate open day talk about studying Joint Honours at the university.

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

Required subjects and grades: ABB

Additional information: Other qualifications are considered - learn more about entry 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

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

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

Support

To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we will enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) will provide you with individual support from an academic writing advisor and postgraduate subject-specialist writing tutors. You will receive guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level which can be quite different from your previous experiences of writing. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, feedback through email and tutorials.

Student experience

Supporting you throughout your transition to University, offering research opportunities and study skills support and helping you develop and prepare for your post-University careers - our Arts and Law Student Experience Team strive to help you get the most out of your academic experience.

Contact hours

These vary slightly according to your choice of modules. However, contact is timed carefully and we're very clear about what you should do during your independent study hours. During contact hours, you will have the opportunity to work in small groups, to build relationships with your tutors and fellow students, and to receive one-to-one feedback on your assignments.

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

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations and formal exams (depending on your chosen degree).

During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for that particular programme of study. You will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You will be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

Employability

Anthropology

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers and Employability Service can help you achieve your goal.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CV's and job applications will help give you the edge.

If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

History of Art

[Video above - Dr Elizabeth L'Estrange discusses careers and employability during the History of Art open day presentation]

As a History of Art student you will have an excellent opportunity to develop skills that are highly prized by employers, including visual and textual analysis and interpretation, clear and effective writing, visual discernment, making opinions, and respecting the views of others even if you disagree with them.

The University of Birmingham has graduate employability rates for History of Art graduates above the national average and in the top 10 UK universities for the subject. Over 50% of job vacancies advertised for new and recent graduates don't specify a degree subject, and our graduates have gone on to highly successful careers in art galleries and other cultural institutions, as curators, researchers and administrators. Others pursue careers in auction houses and the art business, teaching, and in administrative and management roles for a wide range of employers. Some also decide to pursue graduate study in specialist art and cultural areas or professions such as teaching and law.

Employers of Birmingham History of Art graduates have included the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Bodleian Library, Cath Kidston, Historic Royal Palaces, The National Portrait Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum. Examples of jobs they have taken up include Archivist, Assistant Curator, Curator of Fine Art, Gallery Coordinator, Programme Coordinator and Researcher.

Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and events to give you insight into the professions and employers of interest to arts graduates, and access to internships and job vacancies. Visiting speakers from institutions such as Christie's and Sotheby's, and events including 'Careers in Heritage and Museums' help History of Art students with their career ideas and choices. We also make work placement opportunities available to you in the University's Cultural Collections 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 while you're at university to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. This can include the many societies at the Guild of Students and also the many voluntary opportunities offered with local arts organisations. 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.

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 the College's 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.

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 are a unique opportunity to learn fundamental, transferable business and interpersonal skills, through experience of real work in an established cultural institution. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and the Library of Birmingham. We have plans to expand the scheme to include our own major cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. This scheme will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.