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BA History of Art

Start date
3 years
UCAS code
Course Type
Undergraduate, Single Honours

Annual tuition fees for 2024/25:
£9,250 (UK)
£22,860 (International)
More detail.


Studying the BA History of Art undergraduate degree at the University of Birmingham, you will discover art through a range of perspectives and develop transferable skills that will support you in a variety of future careers. Learn from world-class researchers and access artworks in our campus art gallery and collections. 

BA History of Art enables you to develop a critical understanding of the artistic, cultural, social and political contexts within which artworks are produced and exhibited, and of the meanings they hold for different audiences. You will learn about art, architecture and visual culture across a range of global contexts, from the medieval to the contemporary, using approaches such as social art history, feminist, queer and decolonial methodologies.

Central to your learning will be the study of original artworks at first hand. You will have access to world-class collections on campus and in an extensive range of regional museums and galleries. 

In your second year, you will visit a major European centre of artistic importance such as Rome, Prague, Berlin or Paris, on a university-funded trip, led by academic staff. Throughout your degree you will also have opportunities to join regular gallery study trips in the region and across the UK.  

Barber Institute refurbishment

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is currently undergoing a two-phase £10 million improvement program which includes a temporary closure of the Lady Barber Gallery and select areas until June 2024 and, in Phase Two, a temporary closure of the Barber Institute's building from February 2025 until late autumn 2025, as we make essential repairs and upgrades to enhance your future experience.

Find out more


The History of Art undergraduate degree at Birmingham is brilliant due to the dynamic department and broad array of resources at your disposal. From the grounding in a broad variety of art practices and theories, and the community of students and supportive department; to the Barber Institute and growing contemporary arts scene in the city, the University of Birmingham is an amazing place to study.


Why study this course?

You want to understand how and why artworks were made; what they can tell us about the societies in which they were made; and how to interpret their meanings. Your learning will be directly informed by our research; 95% of our Department’s staff research is ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ (Research Excellence Framework 2021).  

BA History of Art is right for you if you want to...

  • Learn how to interpret artworks and the societies that created them - Your learning will be directly informed by our research; 95% of our Department’s staff research is ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ (Research Excellence Framework 2021).  
  • Engage with our on-campus gallery - Our Department is based in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, with an internationally renowned collection of Western art including works by Botticelli,  Manet and Kollwitz. Many of your lectures and seminars will take place in the Barber’s teaching spaces and gallery, and you'll get to enjoy the fine art library and regular exhibitions and events. 
  • Boost your employability -  Develop transferrable skills and knowledge such as visual analysis, research skills, and oral presentations. We offer funded arts internships exclusively for University of Birmingham students and the opportunity to take employability-focused modules, such as Inside the Gallery, which focuses on how to curate an exhibition.
  • Live in a city and region brimming with culture - Birmingham is home to internationally leading museums, galleries and cultural events, from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which houses the world’s largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art, to the Ikon with its vibrant programme of contemporary art. The Department organises regular study trips to local and national galleries and museums, and the week-long University-funded trip to a major European city is another highlight of the programme.
  • Get involved in an active and creative department - You can publish exhibition reviews and more on the Department’s official blog, the Golovine, and join the student-led History of Art Society, HartSoc to  get involved with a range of fun and social events.   
  •  Experience time studying abroad - You can apply to study abroad for one semester during your second year, or opt to extend your degree by one year and take a full year abroad in your third year. We have partnerships with European and worldwide universities highly regarded in the field of History of Art, and a dedicated Study Abroad Team to help you make your choices. Find out more at 

You can also visit our 'Why Study History of Art?' page to discover why studying this subject at the University of Birmingham is both rewarding in itself and useful for your future career.



Please note: You will take 120 credits of modules in each year of study. The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2024. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

Year 1

Compulsory Modules

  • Historical Concepts in the History of Art (20)
  • Debates and Methods in the History of Art (20)
  • Object and Medium 1: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculptures (20)
  • Object and Medium 2: Photography, Film, Performance and Installation (20)
  • Writing Art's Histories I (10)
  • Writing Art's Histories II (10)

Optional Modules

  • Choose 20 credits of optional modules

Detailed descriptions of first year modules

Year 2

Compulsory Modules

  • Research Techniques in History of Art (10 credits)
  • Art History in the Field: Overseas Study Trip (10 credits)

Detailed descriptions of second year compulsory modules

Optional modules

You will also take your remaining 100 credits in optional modules

 List of second year optional modules 

In addition, you have the opportunity to spend one semester in your second year studying abroad at a foreign university. This must be undertaken in semester 1.

Final Year

Compulsory Module

  • Dissertation (40)

Optional Modules

You will also take 80 credits of optional modules.

Detailed descriptions of Final Year compulsory and optional modules


For UK students beginning their studies in September 2024, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Fees for 2024/25 are as follows:

  • UK: £9,250
  • International: £22,860

Eligibility for fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

Tuition fees when studying abroad

For those spending a whole academic year abroad (where available):

  • Students who are classed as UK for fees purposes are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee
  • Students who are classed as International for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee

For those studying abroad for just one semester (where available), normal annual tuition fees apply.

Note - Study abroad opportunities vary between courses; please see the course description for details of study abroad options offered.

Additional Course Costs

For the optional second year Art History in the Field: Overseas Study Trip, students will be expected to cover the cost of passport acquisition and visas (where required), subsistence costs (e.g. lunch, dinner, drinks etc.), travelling around the destination city, and individual entry to museums/galleries where the University was unable to pay in advance as a group. Insurance costs are covered by the University providing students are normally registered and register with the university’s insurance prior to their departure, using the official link provided in the module information. If a student fails to complete the relevant procedure before leaving the UK, they will not be covered by the insurance.

How To Apply

Standard offer

International Requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
General Studies:
Not accepted.

IB Diploma:
6,5,5 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall.

BTEC qualifications:

  • BTEC Extended Diploma: DDD.
  • BTEC Diploma: DD, plus B at A-level.
  • BTEC Subsidiary Diploma: D, plus AB at A-level.

T Levels:
Distinction overall with B in the Core Component; all subjects considered.

Other qualifications are considered - learn more about entry requirements.

Alternative offers through our Pathways to Birmingham programmes and our Contextual Offer scheme

Students who are eligible and successfully complete a Pathways to Birmingham programme will receive special consideration from admissions tutors and an alternative offer (typically two grades below the standard offer). In addition, our Contextual Offer Scheme recognises the potential of students whose personal circumstances may have restricted achievement in school or college. If you are eligible to benefit from the contextual offer scheme, you will receive an offer which is one grade lower than the standard offer.

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 one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

In the 1480s, this was very much a new type of painting: a painting of the Olympian gods dealing with mythological subjects. From that, we can begin to think about how the painting could connect with mythological texts.

Dr David Hemsoll


You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to higher education when you start at Birmingham. 

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 advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.

Wellbeing Officers –You will also have access to dedicated wellbeing officers who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or to talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond if you need it.

Our Academic Skills Centre helps you to 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.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) provides guidance on writing essays and dissertations if you need it. You can receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects too.

Our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They offer research opportunities, study skills support, and help you prepare for your post-university career. They also organise social events, including trips.

Teaching staff

Students at the University of Birmingham are taught by a mixture of professors, senior lecturers, lecturers and doctoral researchers, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. Many of our teaching staff have published important works about their areas of expertise, whilst others have taught at international institutions and can offer unique perspectives of their subjects.

You can find out more about the members of staff (including their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest) in their academic profiles linked below.

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.

Contact Hours

All Birmingham degrees are set within a credit framework designed to measure your academic achievements. We expect all students to accumulate 120 credits in each full year of study which is equivalent to 40 hours of learning a week. Learning is considered to include contact learning (lectures and seminars), private study, revision and assessment.

For this programme, those 40 hours are estimated to be broken down and split into lectures, seminars and other guided teaching opportunities and then independent study. This is a general rule across the entire academic year and may change week by week.

  • Year 1: 15% Lectures, seminars or similar and 85% Independent study
  • Year 2: 15% Lectures, seminars or similar and 85% Independent study
  • Year 3: 10% Lectures, seminars or similar and 90% Independent study

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 exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within three 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.

The cultural industries remain a key part of our economic future and 85% of our History of Art students enter employment and/or further study within 15 months of graduation (Discover Uni 2022). 

You will 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
  • Visual and textual analysis and interpretation
  • 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, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the National Museum of Wales.

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

Hear from our graduates >

Developing your career

The University of Birmingham is the top choice for the UK's major employers searching for graduate recruits, according to The Graduate Market 2024 report. Our Careers Network are here to offer you tailored, expert advice on your career plans and support you with finding and applying for jobs, internships and further study. There are hundreds of events to help you meet potential employers and learn more about the breadth of opportunities and career sectors available to you.

Support will be offered to you covering the whole job application process, including CVs, LinkedIn, application forms, interviews and assessment centres.  You can also email our experienced Careers Advisors and College Teams to review your applications or answer any careers related question, alongside our on campus and online 1:1 appointments.

We have a number of exclusive Internship Programmes such as our Cultural Internship, which will give you paid, professional experience to set you apart in the graduate market. We also offer work experience bursaries, which allow you to apply for funding to support you during any unpaid internships. 

First years can take part in The Birmingham Project, with themes including celebrating arts and culture and shaping a global society. There’s also a successful Mentoring Programme, where you can gain access to experienced Mentors who can empower, inspire and inform you about their experiences.  As a University of Birmingham student you will also be given access to LinkedIn Learning giving free access to real world training courses to kick-start your careers.

If you want to earn money WorkLink advertises convenient part-time job opportunities on campus to fit round your studies.  

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you may want to engage in extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. Our employer-endorsed, award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme.

There are more than 500 student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students (our Students’ Union) so you’re bound to find activities that you want to be involved in whilst meeting friends who share your interests.