History of Art is a way of unlocking the past through material culture and understanding the process of human creativity itself.
Discover art and visual culture through a broad range of perspectives, such as social history, global art, philosophy, anthropology, feminism and religion. You will have access to original works, a dedicated fine art library and collection of resources in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, our public gallery on-campus. Here you will find works by Botticelli, Turner, Van Gogh, Gainsborough, Monet, Magritte, Degas, Gwen John, Vigée LeBrun and Rodin.
History of Art at Birmingham is ranked in the Top 10 in the Complete University Guide 2019. Furthermore, students on this programme rate it extremely highly, giving the programme an overall satisfaction rating of 100% in the National Student Survey 2018.
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“I chose History of Art because it combines two of my biggest interests, History and Art, and so far I love it. My favourite module is Object and Medium. It focuses on the materials used and the processes involved in making pieces of art and a lot of the teaching for it takes place in the Barber. It’s really exciting to see the things you have been learning explained on works you can see in person.”
"The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is a shining example of the high standard of artwork outside of London... One of the world's truly great small art museums" - The Telegraph
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 and creative industries. The course is very flexible, allowing you to specialise as you progress, culminating in a final-year dissertation where you will carry out in-depth research into a material subject of your choice.
Study trips play an important part in your degree and include visits to galleries and museums in the UK and abroad. You will participate in a week-long, University-funded trip to a major European centre of artistic importance, where you have the opportunity to 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. The trip provides a great opportunity to get to know the entire year group in an informal and inspiring setting.
- Excellent student experience - Our students gave the course an overall satisfaction rating of 100% in the National Student Survey 2018. They benefit from small classes, study trips, the opportunity to write blog posts for The Golovine, access to extensive Research and Cultural Collections, and an array of other extra-curricular activities.
- Fantastic travel opportunities - Gallery study trips are organised in the West Midlands and London, whilst students enjoy a week-long, University-funded trip to a major European city in their second year. Students can also apply to study abroad for one year or one semester during their degree, taking History of Art-related subjects taught in English. Our exchange universities include Melbourne University in Australia, Lund University in Sweden and Leiden University in the Netherlands.
- Outstanding teaching - Our staff are active scholars with 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.
- On-campus gallery - Teaching regularly takes place in our working gallery on campus, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, which is home to a dedicated fine art library and some of the highest standards of artwork outside of London. Seminars and events regularly take place in front of these works of art, which really helps to deepen your understanding. You can also explore how the Barber’s different departments work together, whilst drawing on the gallery staff’s own expertise. This hands-on approach to studying History of Art will expand your knowledge of the museum and heritage sector.
- Based in a city brimming with culture - The city of Birmingham hosts many art venues and cultural festivals. You will find a thriving underground arts scene, edgy contemporary pieces in the Ikon Gallery, and stunning traditional works in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which houses the largest collection of pre-Raphaelite artwork in the world. There is something to suit all artistic interests.
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: 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 2019. 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.
This is your foundation year and your compulsory modules will introduce you to concepts, categories and approaches to studying art and artists, as well as 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 a variety of cities. 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 1: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculptures
- Object and Medium 2: Photography, Film, Performance and Installation
- Widening Horizons Module - You will take a module in another subject in the University to complement your studies and expand your academic horizons.
- Detailed descriptions of first year modules
You will go on a compulsory, university-funded study trip to a major artistic and cultural city, such as Berlin, Paris or Venice, where you will have the chance to access works of art and architecture unavailable in Britain to study them in situ. You are prepared for this module, and for your dissertation, though another compulsory module, Research Techniques in the History of Art.
You also choose from a number of optional second year modules on themes or periods in the history of art, allowing you to acquire a greater depth of knowledge by focusing on a number of more specific subjects. In addition, you have the opportunity to spend one semester in your second year studying abroad at a foreign university.
In your final year, you will study four special subject modules in depth and in detail and undertake a compulsory dissertation that also gives you the chance to develop your research skills. You may opt to study a module in another discipline.
Example optional modules may include:
- 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 Pre-Raphaelites: Contexts, Approaches and Reputations
- Inside Out: Interior and Interiority in French Art, Design and Visual Culture 1850-1940
- Berlin: Symphony of a (Great) City?
- Turning the Pages: Manuscript and Print, Past and Present
- Beauty, Goodness and Truth: Topics in the Philosophy of Art
- Sculptural Experiments in Britain 1837-1091
- Detailed descriptions of final year modules
For UK students beginning their studies in September 2019, 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 2019/20 are as follows:
Home / EU: £9,250
Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas 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 home/EU for fees purposes are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee
Students who are classed as overseas 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.
- Number of A levels required:
- Typical offer:
- General Studies:
- Not accepted.
6,5,5 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall.
- BTEC Extended Diploma: DDD.
- BTEC Diploma: DD, plus B at A-level.
- BTEC Subsidiary Diploma: D, plus AB at A-level.
Other qualifications are considered - learn more about entry requirements.
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.
Joint Honours combinations
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:
- small group tutorials
- independent study
- and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates
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 advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
- Welfare tutors - We have dedicated welfare tutors 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 talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.
- 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.
During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into university. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.
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.
Throughout your History of Art degree you can expect about 8 hours of contact time per week made up of both lectures and seminars.
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.
The cultural industries remain a key part of our economic future and 90% of our History of Art students enter employment or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2017).
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
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.
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.
Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.
Clubs and societies
The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.
Student Experience Officers
Our Student Experience Officers 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.
Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.
The City of Birmingham
One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.
Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.
The University of Birmingham has been welcoming international students onto our campus since 1900.
We have one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK, with 5,000 international students from more than 150 different countries and 31% of our academic staff from overseas.
If you would like further information about entry requirements, how to apply and funding options, then you can visit our international students webpage. You may also wish to take a virtual tour of our campus and watch the video below to hear our international students say their favourite thing about the University of Birmingham.