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BA (Hons) English/History of Art

The story of humanity’s creative history

2018/19 entry

UCAS code


Institution code



3 years full-time (plus optional placement year)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year (2018/19)

International fees

£16,620 per year (2018/19)

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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. You will graduate 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.

QS ranks the Department of English and Related Literature in the top 25 in the world. QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017 - English Language & Literature.

In the last REF, the History of Art Department was ranked first in the UK for its Research Environment.

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


Literary and art heritage

The city of York has a long tradition of cultural heritage and literary excellence which you can engage with on this course.

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 Two and Three, it’s possible to vary the balance and devote more time to one subject or the other. 

NB: This information reflects the current course content and structure, which may be revised from year to year.

Study abroad

We are proud of our international outlook. If you’re also interested in studying abroad, there are a number of options both in the English-speaking world and in Europe. 

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 doing literary and art-historical research, and advice on how to combine the two disciplines.

English/History of Art students 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.

  • Approaches to Literature I: Writing Modernity (Autumn) and Approaches to Literature II: Other Worlds (Spring) - Get a feel for the shape of literary history by studying works from the medieval, early modern, eighteenth-century and Romantic, and modern periods. 
  • Key Concepts: An Introduction to Genre, Theory, and Writing - 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.

You will also take a further 60 credits in History of Art:

  • The Materials of Art & Architecture 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: 

  • Reinventing Antiquity introduces you to the discipline from the perspective of the classical tradition, ranging from fifth-century Greece through to the early 21st century, and across the globe from Athens to Washington to Calcutta. 
  • Objects in Focus 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 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.
  • Language Course are designed for students at all levels, enabling some to develop languages they have already begun at school, and others to break out in new directions. There are also tailor-made Languages for Art Historians courses, designed with the needs of the discipline in mind.”

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.

English/History of Art students take a minimum of 40, and a maximum of 80, credits in English in Year 2. You will choose from the same English options as our single subject students. These include our World Literature offerings, our Topic Modules, and Critical Practice, as well as our Intermediate Option Modules:

  • The Shock of the New: Medieval Literature
  • The Renaissance
  • Inventing Britain, 1700-1830
  • Victorians: British Literature, 1837-1901
  • Age of Extremes: Twentieth-Century British and Irish Literature
  • American Literature: From the First World War to the End of Empire.

In History of Art, you will choose from modules ranging from the late antique to the contemporary. In the second year, some of these are focussed on specific periods, such as introductions to medieval art; some consider specific places, such as the Mediterranean world; some examine specific media, for example photography or stained glass; whilst others are thematic, examining the intersections of architecture and gender; or consider specific institutions, such as the Crystal Palace at Sydenham.

Year 3

In the third year of your degree, you will take a single, term-long History of Art module from a variety of options, allowing you to understand a period, place, or problem in unprecedented detail. English/History of Art students will also take two Advanced Option Modules in English, one in the Autumn and one in the Spring. Once again, you will choose from the same exciting menu of options as our single subject students.”

You will also undertake a Bridge Dissertation, one of the distinctive features of the English/History of Art degree at York. The Bridge 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. 

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 £16,620

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

Home/EU students

International students

The Department of English and Related Literature offers an Annual Overseas Bursary of £1,000. 

Living costs

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

“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 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

In English, you'll learn through a programme of seminars, lectures, workshops, and one-to-one consultations. We emphasise small-group seminar teaching.

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, 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

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

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Lectures and seminars180 hours216 hours180 hours

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

The rest of your time on the course will be spent on independent study. This 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.

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.


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

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
Digital copywriter

Entry requirements

Qualification Grade
A levels
  • AAB, including an A in English at minimum.
  • We’ll ask for an A grade in English Literature (English Language and Literature is also acceptable).
  • We won’t accept General Studies or Critical Thinking.
Access to Higher Education Diploma 36 credits from units awarded Distinction. 9 credits from units awarded 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.
Irish leaving Certificate H1 (English) H2, H2, H2, H2, H3
Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers AAAAB at Higher level. AA at Advanced Higher level, including A in English.

English language

Our English language requirements for international applicants can be found on our Entry Requirements page.


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

Normally, only mature candidates and those with special circumstances and/or qualifications will have an interview. Interviews will usually be a half-hour conversation about your interests. We’ll also ask you to bring along some of your recent essays.

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

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