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Home>Study at York>Undergraduate>Courses>Curating and Art History (BA)

Overview A practical introduction to working in museums and galleries

UCAS code


Typical offer

AAB/ABB (full entry requirements)


3 years full-time

This new degree builds on our reputation as one of the UK's leading Art History departments. You'll study the History of Art which will be invaluable as you also develop skills in curating galleries and art museums. You will also be able to take part in field trips to see exhibitions and art objects.

As part of the course you'll have the chance to plan your own exhibitions: both in a group project and in placement with an arts institution that you'll undertake during your second year. Both these experiences give you the opportunity to experience a working environment directly related to your studies.

Our confirmed placement partners:

York Museums Trust

The Hepworth Wakefield

YCHP (Yorkshire Country House Partnership)

Castle Howard

For more on the department's diverse partnerships with organisations including Tate, the V&A, the National Gallery, York Museums Trust, the National Railway Museum, the Bowes Museum, the Hepworth Wakefield, Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art, and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, see our Collaborative Research in Art History wesbite.

Taught by curators
You'll be taught by dedicated staff, including curators, artists and academics. Some of our curators and their recent exhibitions include:

Course content What you’ll study


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 have the chance to study a general language module, including medieval or classical Latin, Arabic, Chinese, Italian, Modern Greek and many others. You can also study specialist courses for Art Historians that build reading skills in French, Italian or German.
  • 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. 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.

Year 2

In your second 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 3

In your third 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.

Study abroad

Some modules include study trips abroad during term time which will be subsidised by the department. You can also choose to spend your summer at a study centre or summer school abroad.

Research Excellence Framework 2014

Our department is one of the best departments in the UK for the study of Art History. In the recent Research Excellence Framework we were ranked third for research performance against other History of Art Departments and second for the impact of our research.

Teaching and assessment How you’ll be taught and assessed

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.


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.

The Norman Rea Gallery is run entirely by students. Situated above The Courtyard, the gallery hosts exciting exhibitions throughout the year and promotes the work of both student and professional artists.

The University of York 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.

Careers Where you’ll go from here

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 How to get here

Course entry

Applications must be made through UCAS. We currently make our selection based on your UCAS form. 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.

A-levels and GCSEs


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

General Studies is accepted.

Other UK qualifications

Scottish Highers

BTEC Extended Diploma

Cambridge Pre-U
• D3, D3, M2 - D3, M2, M2

International options

European Baccalaureate
• Grade of 75%-80% or higher

International Baccalaureate
• 35/34 points

Irish leaving certificate
• AABBBB-AAAABB or H2,H2,H2,H2,H3,H3 - H2,H2,H3,H3,H3,H3

Country specific qualifications

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

Unistats for this course

Enquire Contact our admissions tutor if you have any questions