BA History of Art

UCAS code Typical offer Length
V350 AAB-ABB (See full entry requirements) 3 years full-time
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Course overview

What is History of Art?

Many students who apply to study History of Art have not studied it before. We don't require you to have any practical art skills, just a keen attention to the visual world and a strong interest in art and architecture

We write about art objects and architecture from different perspectives, considering:

  • what objects can tell us about the historical period they come from
  • how they shape the way we look at ourselves and the world
  • how their meaning is affected by the way they were made.

Questions like these allow you to think critically, write confidently, and look at the world in new and exciting ways!

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10 reasons to study History of Art at York

  1. In the beautiful, historic city of York, you will study in a department renowned for ‘world leading research’.

  2. Our small-group, research-led teaching helps you to learn effectively and gives you a voice - our seminar groups are capped at 15 students.

  3. We have one of the largest departments in the country allowing experts in the field to offer you an unmatched variety of modules. You study core modules, but also have the opportunity to develop your own areas of interest.

  4. We offer you funded study trips in the UK and abroad, including to locations such as Siena, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin.

  5. You can choose to spend the whole of your second year abroad, at a top university in another European country in order to immerse yourself completely in its culture, language, and especially, art.

  6. We have strong local connections with York Art Gallery, the Baltic Gallery, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Castle Howard, York Minster, the Henry Moore Institute, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Hepworth Gallery, allowing behind the scenes access.

  7. Find out about exciting exhibitions first through talks from our internationally-renowned partners: Tate, the National Gallery, and the V&A.

  8. You benefit from a busy programme of events, which brings eminent professors from around the world, as well as from our partner organisations, to York.

  9. You will be part of the largest student community of History of Art students in the UK. We have a very active and successful student-run society with a vibrant events and activities programme, and students can also get valuable experience in the Norman Rea Gallery, the University's entirely student-run art gallery.

  10. Our courses open up a whole world of career opportunities to you. You will learn invaluable transferable skills which are essential for an increasingly visual and international job market.

Course content

What you'll study

Whether it is the startling self-portraits of Rembrandt or Grayson Perry's pots that sparked your interest in art and its history, at York you can follow your own interests as well as develop new ones. ‌

To find out more about us and our programmes, watch our online lectures and meet some of our students to find out what they love about Art History at York.

How is the degree structured?

Seminar in front of  'Gordon's Last Stand', Leeds Art Gallery.

The first year (Stage 1) will give you a thorough grounding in History of Art, and is taught through a variety of lectures, seminars and field trips. You can also choose to study a language if you wish.

In the second year (Stage 2), you take the Museology & Curatorship module which includes sessions with curators and museum educators in local institutions. You also choose four seminar modules, taught by our staff in seminar groups of no more than fifteen students.

Visit to the Hepworth Gallery

Hepworth Gallery visit with Prof Michael White

Building on Stage 1 and Stage 2, in your third year (Stage 3) you choose two more special subject modules, each taught by one of the world’s leading experts in that particular field.

Amsterdam with Dr Cordula van Whye

At the end of the degree you write an 8,000 word dissertation on a topic that really interests you, supervised by an expert member of staff. Our Dissertation Training module prepares you to carry out this independent research project. 

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module. This covers some of the essential skills and knowledge which will help you to study independently and produce work of a high academic standard which is vital for success at York.

This module will:

  • define academic integrity and academic misconduct;
  • explain why and when you should reference source material and other people's work;
  • provide interactive exercises to help you to assess whether you've understood the concepts;
  • provide answers to FAQs and links to useful resources.


How you'll be taught

Your Tutors

Our internationally-renowned academics will challenge you to think critically about objects, places and ideas, and the scholarship they’ve inspired. Some recent exhibitions include:

Turner & the Sea:
National Maritime Museum

Mondrian & his Studios
Tate Liverpool
Turner Exhibition Landscape Reconstruction of 26 Rue du Départ, Paris based on 1926 photo by Paul Delbo.
© 2014 STAM, Research and Production: Frans Postma Delft-NL. Photo: Fas Keuzenkamp
© 2014 Mondrian/Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International

Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting The National Gallery

Carlo Crivelli 
Detail, The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius, 1486
Egg and oil on canvas
207 x 146.7 cm
Presented by Lord Taunton, 1864
© The National Gallery, London

Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance
The National Gallery, London

Curators in Conversation 

Lectures, seminars, tutorials and trips

We believe that you learn best in an interactive and stimulating environment, where you can discuss ideas with experts and fellow students and develop your capacity for critical thought. This gives you the best preparation for your future career, where it’s unlikely that someone will just be giving you facts.


You’ll be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, field trips, essay tutorials and online activities, receiving regular feedback on exams and essays through one-to-one tutorials where we will give you verbal and written advice on your work.

"I have immensely enjoyed my History of Art degree. What I have loved most is the chances that I had to further develop and explore my interests. The tutors and staff have been beyond amazing, and I cannot thank them enough for making my time at York fantastic!" Harriet, BA History of Art

Learn a language

At York we believe that knowledge of a foreign language can enhance your studies in History of Art and equip you for future exploration and employment. We offer exceptional opportunities for foreign language study. All History of Art students can choose to include study of a foreign language in their degree.

"I definitely found the Italian module useful as I could use it when I did research for some of my modules and my dissertation. Learning a language is a great idea!" Hannah, BA History of Art

Contact hours

At first glance our contact hours might seem much lower than what you’re used to at school or college. University is a very different learning environment. To make the most of your classes, you will need time to prepare by reading, taking notes and looking at works of art and architecture. You will spend a lot of your week making use of the University's superb library and special access to online resources.

Each full-time member of staff also holds office hours every week in term time, so there is always someone there to support you.


How you'll be assessed

We balance types of assessment to develop and test your different strengths. Our assessments include:

  • 1,500-2,500-word essays
  • closed written exams
  • take-home two-day essays
  • a group project
  • the 8,000-word dissertation submitted at the very end of your degree

Our teaching is designed to prepare you for the assessment. You will also have individual tutorials to help you revise and ask any question you might have.

How we let you know how you are doing

We give you feedback on all the work that you do in a variety of ways. You will receive written feedback from the examiner on your examined work. You can also discuss this with your supervisor. During term, you will also write essays and give presentations. Your course tutor will give you written and verbal feedback to help you improve and develop. 

Adjustments for students with disabilities

We can make appropriate adjustments to assessment procedures for students with disabilities. See the University's disability support pages for further details.


Careers and employability

A History of Art degree opens up a whole world of opportunities to you. You might be surprised by the range of careers our students have gone in to.

We have former students who are curators, art educators, journalists, aucitioneers and valuers. We also have students who work in law, public administration, social work and education.

You can read about the careers our graduates have gone into on our alumni profile pages or on the Careers Service graduate profiles pages. 

At York, you can get an insight into the professional art world through modules on Art Law, Art and Money and Museology and Curatorship.  These courses often include visits from leading art world professionals who will tell you about their work. 

Our internationally-renowned partners bring leading curators to campus and our local museums often provide work experience opportunities.

Artist Rooms meeting at York St Mary's

"I worked on the Tate's Artist Rooms display of Bruce Nauman's work at York St Mary's with other History of Art students in my year. Curators from the gallery met with us and gave us free rein to produce the exhibition leaflet for the show."
Laura, BA History of Art

Most of our graduates have graduate-level jobs or are in postgraduate study within six months of graduation. Those in non-graduate employment are typically working as museum/heritage guides to build networks and gain relevant experience. 

The Department has a dedicated Careers contact, Dr Chad Elias. Chad works closely with the University's Careers Service to offer a range of tailored events and services to help you develop professional skills and plan for your future. 

With a BA in History of Art from the University of York, you will graduate with an excellent humanities degree from a world-renowned Department at a world-leading university. In a globally competitive jobs market, this kind of experience can help you stand out from other arts and humanities graduates.


How to apply

All applications for our undergraduate courses must be completed through UCAS.

Tips for applying

In your personal statement we're particularly interested to know why you want to study History of Art. Tell us about any galleries, exhibitions, buildings or cities you've been to and particularly liked.

We don't expect you to have travelled the world - tell us about a local museum or gallery. We're interested in what you have to say, rather than where you have been to. Has a particular book or TV programme inspired you? Remember to keep it honest and personal – you’re not expected to love everything equally, so try to examine and then explain your own motivations for applying for the course.

Lower offers may be made following assessment of all aspects of a candidate's UCAS application including past academic performance, predicted grades, reference and personal statement which demonstrates a clear enthusiasm for and commitment to History of Art through independent study, visits or involvement with arts organisations.

For joint honours programmes you must get the equivalent of AAB at A level, with an A in History or English as appropriate. See the English or History pages for further details. Lower offers may be made following assessment of all aspects of a candidate's UCAS application.

Widening Participation

In the History of Art Department at York we want encourage students from a wide range of backgrounds to apply.

We accept Access to Higher Education certificates as qualifications for entry, which are becoming a common way for non-traditional students to gain the skills necessary to undertake a university degree. Please contact us for further information about appropriate access courses and our requirements.

The University of York also runs an Access Scheme for students who have faced social, personal, or educational challenges that may have hindered their ability to access higher education. To find out more about the scheme and whether you are eligible, and for instructions on how to apply, see the York Access Scheme website. You will need to let the University know about your situation before you make your application to York so they can take it into account.

Entry requirements

A levels

AAB-ABB (General Studies grades are acceptable)

International Baccalaureate

35-34 points

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers


Irish Leaving Certificate



BTEC National Diploma or QCF BTEC Extended Diploma with DDM-DDD 

European Baccalaureate

Grade of 75%-80% or higher

Other qualifications

Cambridge Pre-U: D3, D3, M2 - D3, M2, M2 

Access to Higher Education: Obtain Access to HE Diploma with 30 credits achieved from units awarded Distinction and 15 awarded Merit or higher. Distinctions will be expected in History-related units - Obtain Access to HE Diploma with 15 credits achieved from units awarded Distinction and 15 awarded Merit or higher.

Other qualifications are accepted by the University, please contact Undergraduate Admissions.

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in all units
  • Pearson PTE Academic: 61 overall with 51 in all parts
  • Cambridge Advanced English (CAE): A
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): C
  • GCSE English Language (as a first language): C

Mature students

We welcome applications from mature and non-traditional students. History of Art is a popular degree for people coming back to education, and if you have an interest in the course, we encourage you to get in touch with us to talk about your experience and qualifications.

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Any questions?

Jason Edwards

Contact our Head of Admissions, Prof Jason Edwards, if you have any questions. Jason is always happy to talk to potential applicants about History of Art:

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