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BA (Hons) Curating and Art History with a Year Abroad

A practical introduction to working in museums and galleries

2018/19 entry

UCAS code


Institution code



4 years full-time (plus optional placement year)

Typical offer

AAB/ABB (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2018 (term dates)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year (2018/19)

International fees

£16,620 per year (2018/19)

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This innovative degree builds on our reputation as one of the UK's leading Art History departments.

As part of the degree, you'll study a range of art history and curatorial modules. Some of these will take place in a seminar room and others in museums and galleries. You will work both with staff from our department, many of whom are curators with an international reputation, and with museum and gallery professionals, from a range of our partner institutions.

In addition, you’ll go on a number of field trips to encounter objects in their various institutional settings. You’ll also be able to study a language, in your first year, specially tailored for art historians, so that you can maximise the benefit of your second year studying abroad in one of our European partner institutions.

York Careers Service has exciting opportunities for gaining relevant and useful curatorial and museological skills. For example, the @work scheme is designed for students in our department, and includes tailored opportunities around events, exhibitions, heritage and outreach. Recent partners have included York Museums Trust, the National Trust and Rievaulx Abbey.

Our confirmed partner institutions:

York Museums Trust The Hepworth Wakefield YCHP (Yorkshire Country House Partnership) Castle Howard

The Department of History of Art is part of our Faculty of Arts and Humanities, which is ranked 31st in the 2016-17 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.


Expert teaching

You'll be taught by dedicated staff, including curators, artists and academics.

Course content

You'll study a wide range of modules that cover the fundamentals of art history and develop a range of approaches to curating an art museum or gallery. You'll also get to plan an exhibition as part of a group project and take a placement with an art institution.

Many of the modules you can choose from will have associated field trips to allow you to visit the art and architecture. These field trips will range from local, to national and occasionally international. We cover the cost of any major air/sea/rail travel and accommodation, although you'll be expected to pay for any local transportation, food and entrance costs.

Year 1

In your first year you'll study a range of modules that will develop your skills in art history and cover a range of approaches to curating art museums. You can also choose to study a language module, several of which are specifically designed for art historians.

You'll study these modules:

  • The Art of Describing - you'll visit a series of works of art and architecture in York and beyond. You'll study art and architecture at first-hand and learn how to describe these experiences.
  • The Materials of Art and Architecture - you'll explore the material nature of works and learn to describe, analyse and interpret the visual and material qualities of a wide range of media.
  • Approaches to Curatorial Practice - this module introduces the history and current practice of art curation. Through a range of case studies and texts, you'll learn about relevant methodologies and conceptual problems, and how to critically assess the collection and display of visual objects.
  • Theory for Art Historians - You'll be introduced to the rich complexity of Art History and learn to challenge commonly held assumptions. You'll also develop your skills for literary, critical and rhetorical analysis.
  • Objects in Focus (Curating) - you'll have the chance to study a discrete topic in an intensive and sustained way. You'll gain an understanding and experience of the complex issues that underpin art history and curation. It's the ideal foundation for your more detailed studies in the following years.

You'll also have a choice from one of the following modules:

  • Language - you'll have the chance to study specialist courses for Art Historians that build reading skills in French, Italian or German. You also have the chance to study a general language module, including medieval or classical Latin, Arabic, Chinese, Italian, Modern Greek and many others. 
  • Reinventing Antiquity - you'll explore how history came to be ascribed to art and examine how ideas about the past influence the present. You'll look at how similar forms have different meanings in different historical contexts.

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module.

Year 2

In your second year you'll study with one of our partner universities across Europe, you'll pay a reduced fee to York for that year of study. You'll study modules on offer at your host institution. Your assessment be via two modules, worth 60 credits each, in which you'll write a 2000-word essay discussing your experience abroad. 

Our international partners:


Year 3

In your third year you'll be able to choose from modules across a wide historical range. the emphasis will be on learning to think about exhibitions and displays. You'll also take part in a group project to plan an exhibition.

You'll take two core modules that develop your curatorial and exhibition skills and knowledge:

  • Curatorial Internship - a placement with an arts institution which allows you to practise the skills you've acquired and to develop your own curatorial interests.
  • Group Exhibition Project - this module is taught in collaboration with York Museums Trust, and you'll have a chance to familiarise yourself with their collections and their spaces. You'll focus on a particular display project or exhibition and explore the full process of developing an exhibition, including object selection and arrangement, the production of interpretive texts, catalogue conception, audience analysis, marketing, fundraising and more. You'll experience at first hand how curatorial theory intersects with the practical demands of planning an exhibition.

You'll also choose four seminar modules that allow you to study certain time-periods or types of art in more detail. There will be restrictions on which modules you can choose, to ensure you study a sufficient amount of curatorial material. Modules change to reflect the latest research and developments but will include a range of interesting subjects from the medieval to the contemporary. Current module list.

Year 4

In your final year you'll work on your 7,000-8,000-word dissertation. This will give you a chance to explore an interesting topic in significant detail, and must have a significant curatorial aspect.

You'll also choose two modules that allow you to study a time period or type of art in significant detail. There will be restrictions on which modules you can choose, to ensure you study a sufficient amount of curatorial material. Modules change to reflect the latest research and developments. Current module list.

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Learning by design

Every course at York has been designed to provide clear and ambitious learning outcomes. These learning outcomes give you an understanding of what you will be able to do at the end of the course. We develop each course by designing modules that grow your abilities towards the learning outcomes and help you to explain what you can offer to employers. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Deploy a broad knowledge of varied types of art and architecture from diverse periods and places, together with understanding of their historical, cultural and institutional contexts. 
  • When encountering new visual material either first-hand or in reproduction, apply high-level descriptive and observational skills, develop critical visual analysis drawing upon an appropriate range of methodological approaches, and identify relevant sources for further research. 
  • Analyse and evaluate how works of art are presented in museums, galleries and other settings, and demonstrate an understanding of how the contexts of collection, preservation and display have helped to shape the history of art. 
  • Identify and engage with concepts, values and debates that inform contemporary curatorial practice, drawing on first-hand practical experience. 
  • Communicate complex ideas effectively, both orally and in writing, well supported by visual material where required, at varied lengths and registers appropriate to the context and intended audience. 
  • Confront and interrogate widely-held assumptions, understand how interpretations of culture and its contexts have changed over time both incrementally and in more radical paradigm shifts, and continue to engage critically with future changes in ways of thinking. 
  • Carry out an original and independent investigative project from beginning to end: identify and assemble relevant primary material, develop relevant methodologies for interpretation, consult significant source materials and experts, manage time in an appropriate framework, and complete the project to deadline in the required format.
  • Work both independently and as an effective team member in pursuit of an objective, exercising initiative and leadership when appropriate.

Collaborations with museums and galleries

Our range of collaborations with museums and galleries will be invaluable to your education


Our department is part of our Faculty of Arts and Humanities, which is ranked 42nd in the 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees

UK/EU International
£9,250 £16,620

Additional costs

Many of the modules you can chose from will have assocated field trips to allow you to visit the art and architecture. Field trips can be local, national or initernational. We'll cover the cost of any major air/sea/rail travel and accommodation, but you'll be expected to pay for local transportation, food and entrance costs.

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK, EU or international student.

Fees for subsequent years

  • UK/EU: further increases within the government fee cap will apply in subsequent academic years. We will notify you of any increase as soon as we can.
  • International: fees for international students are subject to annual increases. Increases are currently capped at 2% per annum.

More information

For more information about tuition fees, any reduced fees for study abroad and work placement years, scholarships, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and living costs see undergraduate fees and funding.


We offer a number of scholarships to help cover tuition fees and living costs.

Home/EU students

International students

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers accommodation costs and estimated social costs.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

You'll be taught by art historians that are writing some of the texts you'll read, as well as curating some of the exhibitions you'll see.

In your first year you'll attend lectures and workshops. As the degree progresses you'll find you spend more time in seminars where you, as small group of other students and a tutor will discuss a topic for which you've done preliminary research and preparation. As your studies progress you may be asked to give presentations or lead the discussions in seminars. From your second year all modules include seminars with no more than 15 students in a group.

Some of our curators and their recent exhibitions include:

Overall workload

As a guide, students on this course typically spend their time as follows:

Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Lectures and seminars168 hours
0 hours
132 hours
96 hours
Independent study1032 hours
0 hours
948 hours
1104 hours
Placement0 hours
1200 hours
120 hours
0 hours

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

Independent study may include preparation for lectures and seminars, follow-up work, wider reading, practice completion of assessment tasks, or revision. Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours will vary from person to person. In UK higher education the expectation is that full-time students will spend 1200 hours a year learning.


On campus there is the student-run Norman Rea Gallery and the University art collection.

Situated above The Courtyard, the gallery hosts exciting exhibitions throughout the year and promotes the work of both student and professional artists.

The art collection contains a wide variety of works, from ancient to contemporary, across a diverse array of materials, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, prints, book art, photography, and textiles. The collection includes key work by internationally significant artists including Barbara Hepworth and Jacob Epstein, Paul Nash and Sydney Nolan, R.B. Kitaj and Elizabeth Blackadder. The collection is available for innovative curatorial displays and exhibitions on and beyond campus.

There are also many libraries and galleries nearby.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of History of Art on Campus West.

Most of your contact hours will be in Vanbrugh College, with some additional teaching on Campus West.

Course location

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

We use a number of different assessment formats:

  • open papers - a take home exam that lasts 48 hours
  • group-project
  • internship portfolio
  • essays
  • formal closed exams
  • research dissertation (of around 7,000-8,000 words).

We'll also ask you to write procedural essays and we'll give you feedback. You'll also be assessed on your performance in seminars.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Written exams62%0%30%60%
Practical exams5%0%15%7%

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

Careers and skills

You'll develop skills that are attractive to a wide range of employers, but particularly suitable for careers in cultural roles such as gallery/museum curator, the art market, conservation and journalism.

Career opportunities

Recent graduates from the department have gone on to roles that include:

  • Gallery director
  • Conservation officer
  • Curator
  • Art consultant.

They've worked for a range of organisations including:

  • National Museum of Wales
  • Museums Sheffield
  • Sotheby's
  • Christie's
  • BBC.

Transferable skills

As well as gaining skills applicable to art history and curatorships you'll also develop skills that can be used across academic disciplines and throughout your career:

  • Researching complex topics
  • Thinking analytically and independently
  • Presentation and team working.

Entry requirements

Qualification Grade
A levels


You do not need an A level in History of Art.

General Studies is accepted.

BTEC BTEC National Extended Diploma DDD/DDM
Cambridge Pre-U D3, D3, M2 - D3, M2, M2
European Baccalaureate 75%-80% or higher
International Baccalaureate 35/34 points
Irish leaving Certificate H2,H2,H2,H2,H3,H3 - H2,H2,H3,H3,H3,H3
Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers AAABB-AAAAB

English language

IELTS: 6.5, with at least 5.5 in all units

Pearson: 61, with a minimum of 51 in each component

CAE and CPE (taken from January 2015): 176, with a minimum of 162 each component

TOEFL: 87 overall, with a minimum of 17 in Listening, 18 in Reading, 20 in Speaking, 17 in Writing

Trinity ISE III: Merit in all components


To apply to York, you will need to complete an online application via UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

We normally make offers based on your UCAS application. However, if you have been away from study for some time you may be invited to interview.

If you receive an offer we'll invite you to one of our visit days which gives you a chance to experience our teaching style and to meet staff and students here. You'll also be able to explore the facilities of both our department and the wider University.

Next steps

Contact us

Contact our admissions team if you have any questions

Learn more

Department of History of Art

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