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BA (Hons) English/History of Art

The story of humanity’s creative history

Year of entry: 2020

UCAS code


Institution code



3 years full-time (plus optional placement year)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year (2020/21)

International fees

£17,890 per year (2020/21)

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By combining English and History of Art, you’ll get to explore how textual and visual material interact with one another. 

Studying the two subjects together asks how creativity responds to and works to shape the world. You’ll learn how to master art-historical and literary criticism, and discover the connections and differences between artistic media. In doing so, you’ll gain an exciting and fresh perspective on the history of human expression, graduating with skills highly prized by employers across a wide range of industries.

  • You can discover more about the Department of English and Related Literature’s exciting degree courses by watching our video.
  • You can discover more about the Department of Art History’s innovative approaches to the subject through our series of one minute bite-size art history videos.

The Department of English and Related Literature is ranked 3rd in the UK and the Department of History of Art is ranked 5th in the UK in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019.

In the Times Higher Education’s ranking of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, the Department of English had the highest proportion of ‘world-leading’ (4*) research of all UK English departments and the Department of History of Art were first in the UK for research impact among History of Art departments.

Top 10 departments

We are 2nd in the UK for English and 5th in the UK for History of Art (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020)

Literary and art heritage

The city of York has a long tradition of cultural heritage and literary excellence which you can engage with. The Department of English partners with the York Festival of Ideas, the annual York Literature Festival and the biennial York International Shakespeare Festival. Our hugely successful Writers at York series brings in a stellar cast of world-famous contemporary writers throughout the year.

Course content

You'll cover a broad range of literary and art-historical topics that range from the classical period to the 21st century. Our international outlook takes account of the European and global contexts of art and literature.

All combined course students take 120 credits each year, adding up to 360 credits across the course of your degree. You’ll split your time equally between English and History of Art in your first year. In Years 2 and 3, it’s possible to vary the balance and devote more time to one subject or the other.

As you progress in Years 2 and 3, you'll be able to specialise more in both subjects, choosing your own blend of modules taught by experts in the field and introducing you to the newest and most exciting research and ideas.

Study abroad

There are opportunities for you to spend time abroad during your course:

Year 1

In the first year of your degree, we’ll introduce you to the undergraduate study of English and History of Art. Our modules will give you the skills you need to start undertaking literary and art-historical research, and advice on how to combine the two disciplines.


Core modules

You'll take the following three modules in English, which are worth 20 credits each. These modules are designed to lay the foundation of literary study for your whole degree.

Get a feel for the shape of literary history by studying works from the medieval, early modern, eighteenth-century and Romantic, and modern periods. 

A year-long foundation module that provides you with important critical and methodological contexts for the study of literature. In addition, you will be introduced to strategies for developing essay-writing skills, engaging with criticism and critical theory, and revising work to improve its fluency and persuasiveness, as part of the Department of English's innovative Writing at York provision.

History of Art

Core modules

You will also take three 20-credit modules in History of Art:

  • The Materials of Art and Architecture (20 credits) introduces you to the discipline from the perspective of the materials and methods of construction, artists have employed from cave painting to the present day.

Plus one from:

  • Transmissions, Connections
  • Objects in Focus (20 credits) considers in depth a single image or object, or a small group of related objects that have proven central to, or controversial in, art historical debate.

And one from:

  • The Art of Describing (20 credits) considers the challenges and pleasures of engaging with art objects in the variety of environments in which people have encountered them, across history and the world.

Academic integrity module

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

Year 2

In the second year of your degree, you’ll choose from a range of intermediate modules across the English and History of Art departments.


Option modules

You'll take a minimum of 40, and a maximum of 80, credits in English in Year 2.

You will choose from the same breath-taking range of English options as our single subject students. These include Critical Practice (20 credits) and our Intermediate Option Modules:

These also include our World Literature offerings (30 credits each) and our Topic Modules (10 credits each).

History of Art

Option modules

In History of Art, you will choose from a range of Intermediate seminar modules (20 credits each), which range from the late antique to the contemporary. Some of these are focused on specific periods; some consider specific places; some examine specific media; whilst others are thematic; or consider specific institutions. Modules include:

You will also undertake the year-long Dissertation training module (20 credits) to help prepare you for your dissertation in your third year.

Year 3

In the third year of your degree, you will undertake a dissertation (40 credits), one of the distinctive features of the English/History of Art degree at York. The dissertation invites students to undertake a research project that brings the study of English and History of Art together, and is supervised by a member of staff in each department.

This year-long advanced module offers you the chance to use all the research and writing skills you will have developed at York.

History of Art

Option modules

You'll take a single, term-long special subject History of Art module (40 credits) from a variety of options, allowing you to understand a period, place, or problem in unprecedented detail. Modules include:


Option modules

You will also take two Advanced Option Modules(20 credits each) in English, one in the Autumn and one in the Spring. These reflect the wide-ranging and cutting-edge research expertise of the Department and you can typically expect to choose from around 25 options on varied topics such as:

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:

  • Communicate knowledge of the art and literature of a wide range of periods, and engage creatively and critically with a range of conceptual, theoretical, and methodological approaches. 
  • Take a critical and questioning approach to the ways in which literary and visual culture has been interpreted and narrated, with reference to the period and tradition in which those interpretations were produced. 
  • Analyse the affective power of language and visual culture, and their cultural and political impact, and use this awareness to better understand the world and influence others. 
  • Make connections and comparisons between the ideas, cultures, and societies of different time periods and places around the world.
  • Exercise independent thought and judgment, construct meaningful research questions, and develop well-structured, evidenced-based arguments in response to them through self-reflection, peer review, and feedback. 
  • Convey complex ideas with clarity and precision and make sophisticated and persuasive arguments based on both visual and textual materials from a range of sources, primary and secondary, archival and digital.
  • Have the initiative to work well both independently and in collaboration with others, managing time effectively, meeting deadlines, and taking an analytical approach to extending their own knowledge and skills.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees

UK/EU International
£9,250 £17,890

Additional costs

You'll need copies of the texts set for each module. Where possible, the Department works to arrange digital copies via the University Library. Where this is not practical, you'll be instructed in advance of the start of each term about the texts and editions you'll need to purchase (whether new or second-hand).

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'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2020/21 throughout the year.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching Excellence Framework Gold Award

“Students from all backgrounds achieve consistently outstanding outcomes”

The TEF Panel, Office for Students, June 2018

Our Gold Teaching Excellence Framework award demonstrates our commitment to the delivery of consistently outstanding teaching and learning for our students.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll study and learn with academics who are active researchers, experts in their field and have a passion for their subjects. 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

English at York is renowned for its flexible and innovative approach. We emphasise small-group teaching, which means you’ll mainly be taught in seminars of up to fifteen people. You’ll also take part in workshops, attend lectures, and consult staff on a one-to-one basis.

In History of Art, teaching occurs in a variety of ways, including lectures to the entire cohort and workshops, where group work is often prioritised, especially at the start of your degree when you are still finding your feet. The department is, however, most committed to small-group teaching. From the first year onwards, like English, you will regularly be in seminars with no more than fifteen other students. This creates a lively, guided, democratic environment for discussion, which, we believe, represents the best way to learn.

In addition, the Department of History of Art is committed to seeing and understanding works of art and architecture in all their detail and complexity. As a result, wherever possible, we take you to see the works themselves in the flesh, often making use of our international connections and partnerships with Tate, the V&A, and the National Gallery, as well as a host of local museums and galleries, to give you privileged access.

You can typically expect eight hours of contact time per week — and sometimes more. There are also numerous opportunities for informal contact.

Our cutting-edge research informs all our teaching activities. Our friendly, approachable, and accessible staff are world-leading experts in their fields. They are each available to meet individually with you during two weekly open office hours. We organise many guest lectures and readings by well-known artists, curators, and writers.

Overall workload

In your first year, you can expect:

Lectures3-4 hours per week
Seminars2 hours per week
Workshops2-4 hours per week
Film Screening0-2 hours per week

These figures are based on an average student in an average week. Your contact hours will vary throughout the year due to your module choices, non-compulsory classes, exam periods and changes to scheduled activities.

The rest of your time on the course will be spent on independent study. This may include preparation for classes, 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 1,200 hours a year learning.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of English and Related Literature and the Department of History of Art on Campus West.

Your contact hours will be divided between Derwent College, Vanbrugh College, the Spring Lane Teaching Building, and other nearby locations on Campus West. In addition, you may be taught at the historic King’s Manor campus in the centre of town, and in a range of museums and galleries across the region, the country, and continental Europe.

About our campus

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

The Department of English and Related Literature employs a variety of assessment methods, including group presentations and closed exams, but with a strong emphasis on essay writing. Your main mode of assessment will be essays, which will range from short exploratory exercises to more detailed discussions on a topic of your choice. We offer high levels of feedback and ample opportunities for you to meet with staff to discuss your written work.

Assessment in History of Art takes a variety of forms, from assessed seminar participation, involving presentations as well as group work and discussion, through essays of increasing length and ambition, to open and closed exams. We offer a range of forms of assessment mindful that different students have different strengths, and to enable you to demonstrate your flexibility to your future employers.

In both cases, the culmination of your degree is a year-long bridge dissertation, an independent piece of research of 7,000-8,000 words tailored to your own particular interests, across literature and art history.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Written exams50%23%15%
Practical exams2%20%3%

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

Careers and skills

Studying English and History of Art at York will provide you with numerous career possibilities. You’ll learn presentation, language, and critical thinking skills during your combined degree, and gain expertise in complex analysis and research. These skills suit a wide range of careers related to the creative industries, from arts administration to conservation and curation.

Our English alumni
Our History of Art alumni

Career opportunities

  • Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations
  • Antiques Dealer
  • Arts Administration
  • Auctioneer
  • Civil and Diplomatic Services
  • Conservation Officer
  • Creative and Media Work
  • Librarianship
  • Museum Curation
  • Postgraduate study
  • Publishing
  • Teaching

Transferable skills

  • Ability to analyse and compare complex texts
  • Capacity to write clearly and fluently for a variety of audiences
  • Communication and teamwork skills
  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Data interpretation
  • Experience of researching and debating challenging topics
  • Independent study skills
  • Logic and rhetoric
  • Proficiency in presenting findings cogently and persuasively using information technology
My undergraduate degree in History of Art was extremely visual. I was able to immerse myself in the writings and ideas of so many incredibly clever people and came to see visual culture as fascinating and a gateway to understanding.
Leila Johnston, BA English/History of Art

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
A levels

AAB including an A in English (English Language and Literature is also acceptable)

Access to Higher Education Diploma 36 credits at Distinction, including at least 9 credits in Literature-related units, and 9 credits at Merit or higher
Cambridge Pre-U D3, D3, M2 including D3 in English
European Baccalaureate 80 overall, with 85 in English.
International Baccalaureate 35 points, with 6 in Higher level English.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Qualification Minimum requirement
IELTS 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component
PTE Academic 61, with a minimum of 51 in each component
GCSE/IGCSE/O level English Language (as a first or second language) Grade C
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 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

For more information see our undergraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current IELTS scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


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

We look for intellectual and literary curiosity, open-mindedness, and analytical ability.

We encourage mature students to email the Admissions Tutor for consultation and advice.

At the University of York, we are committed to providing the support our students need to achieve their full potential and have an exceptional, transformational experience. The York Access Scheme offers help to those faced with social, personal or educational challenges which have affected their performance in education. We also offer support for care leavers.

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Department of English and Related Literature, Department of History of Art

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