This programme is designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development - a balance that is highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual, professional and creative industries. The programme is also very flexible, allowing you to specialise as you progress.
History of Art at Birmingham is an exciting and stimulating Department, 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.
Within English Literature, you will have the opportunity to explore a range of approaches to the study of literature, gaining a good grounding in all genres and periods of literature. Complement this by taking a module in an area of creative practice such as Creative Writing, Film or Drama. We have a unique provision for the study of Shakespeare: the Shakespeare Institute, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, is a world-leading centre for international Shakespeare scholarship.
This programme also offers the opportunity to spend a year abroad at one of our carefully selected partner universities, where we have close personal ties with academic staff.
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.
Your first year of study is split equally between English Literature and History of Art (60 credits in each subject). Following this, you have flexible options to alter your balance of study, meaning that you could take 80 credits in one subject and 40 in the other in either or both of years 2 and 3, or stay with the 60/60 balance.
English Literature: Your first-year modules in Joint Honours English will introduce you to the key genres of English Literature across a wide historical and international span, and train you in new ways of thinking about literature. By studying core modules on ‘Poetry’, ‘Prose’ and ‘Plays and Performance’, you will develop the close reading skills needed to analyse all kinds of texts, from medieval plays and early modern poetry to contemporary drama. You will also develop new understanding of how the historical and cultural contexts in which literature is produced and read can shape its meaning.
Alongside these literature-focused modules, ‘Language for Literature’, taught by expert colleagues in English Language, will develop your technical skills and understanding of how literary texts are put together, and how literary language works.
History of Art: The First Year serves as a foundation for the subject. The modules ‘Historical Concepts’ and ‘Debates and Methods’ to the History of Art introduce 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: Historical Concepts in the History of Art; Debates and Methods; Object and Medium; Ideas of the Renaissance; Concepts of Modernism in the History of Art; Enlightenment and its Discontents; The Real Realism; and Romanticism and the Idea of Romantic Art.
English Literature: The second year of your degree is an excellent opportunity to build on the new interests and passions that you discovered in your first-year modules.
You can choose between modules in ‘Histories of Literature’ to deepen your knowledge and understanding of all literary periods from medieval to the present day.
You will have the opportunity to encounter Shakespeare’s work through two exciting modules taught in collaboration with Birmingham’s world-leading Shakespeare Institute, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, and working closely with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
You will also have the option of exploring our ‘Themes in Literature’, from ‘The Gothic’ to ‘Tragedy’.
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; and Art History in the Field – Overseas Study Trip.
English Literature: Depending on whether you elect to take 80, 60 or 40 credits in English Literature, you will take a number of the Special Subject modules below plus either a 12,000-word Dissertation or a 6,000-word Extended Essay on a subject of your choice, for which you will be supervised by an expert in the field. You also have the option of writing a ‘link’ Dissertation with joint supervision from the two Departments.
History of Art: In the Third Year you focus on a series of short 20-credit special subjects, 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 History of Art topic of your own choice, if you have not chosen to complete a ‘link’ dissertation. Recent Final year Special Subjects have included: Inside Out: Interior and Interiority in French Art, Design and Visual Culture 1850-1940; Fashioning Flesh and Technology: Modernism and the Body in Germany 1918-1933; Women and Artistic Culture 1400-1600; Michelangelo; Inside Out: Interior and Interiority in French Art, Design and Visual Culture, 1840-1940; Contemporary Visual Art and Postcolonialism.
You will have the option to take a year abroad between your second and final year at one of a wide range of carefully selected partner institutions from around the world.
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