Skip to content
Home>Study at York>Undergraduate>Courses>History of Art (BA)

BA (Hons) History of Art

See the bigger picture

2018/19 entry

UCAS code


Institution code



3 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)

Open Days

Explore what studying and living in York is really like at one of our Open Days.

Find out more

Our BA History of Art will give you three distinctive and complementary years of studying the history of art and architecture.

You'll start with a year-long introduction to the history of art and then build on this, in years two and three, with rounded training in the discipline and practice of art history. The interdisciplinary nature of art history allows you to develop your existing skills and interests and is reflected in our close relationship with other departments and centres in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

We'll introduce you to an extraordinary variety of art and architecture from many areas, including Europe and America, but also covering the Middle East, North Africa, and East and South Asia. You can also study an exciting range of time periods, from the late antique to the contemporary.

History of Art is a traditional humanities subject with a strong vocational element, allowing you to develop valuable transferable skills. We have partnerships with the Tate, the National Gallery, the V&A and York Museums trust. We also work on art beyond the museum and gallery system, including with partners in country houses, maritime museums, and churches. These partnerships contribute to the teaching and research in our department and you'll benefit from our collaborative links with these institutions.


Collaborations with museums and galleries

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

History of Art teaches you to question everything. It's about how you see the world. I often have to produce articles quickly, which require quite a bit of previous research and reading. My degree was probably the best training ground for that level of production.
Miranda, Reporter (BA History of Art, 2013)

Course content

Our course is designed and taught by expert art historians, many are curators with international reputations. In the first year of the course you'll receive a revealing and rigorous introduction to the history of art and architecture. As you progress in the second and third years you'll be able to specialise more, choosing your own blend of modules taught by experts in the field and introducing you to the newest and most exciting research and ideas.

History of Art is a subject with a strong vocational element that will allow you to develop many transferable skills. We have a number of established partnerships, not just with art museums and galleries; we're also distinct in the number of partnerships we have with country houses, maritime museums and churches.

Here's just some of our partners:

  • Tate
  • National Gallery
  • V&A
  • York Museums Trust
  • York Minster
  • Yorkshire Country House partnership
  • Hull Maritime Museum


Study abroad

We also offer a BA History of Art (with a year abroad). We have many other opportunities to study abroad, from exchanges to short courses and summer schools abroad:

Year 1

Your first year introduces you to the fundamental concepts and skills you'll need as an art historian.

Core modules:

  • The Materials of Art and Architecture
  • Objects in Focus
  • Critical readings in the History of Art
  • Reinventing Antiquity
  • Theory for Art Historians

Optional modules:

You will also choose one of these exciting modules to support your studies.

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 be able to start exploring your own interests from a wide variety of time periods, contexts and media.

Core module:

  • Museology and Curatorship

Intermediate seminar modules:

You will then be able to choose four modules from a wide range. You'll be able to cover a number of different time periods and types of art. By the end of the third year, you'll have been able to study modules from across three chronological periods: Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern.


  • An Introduction to Medieval Art
  • Art in the City: Late Medieval York
  • Body, Space & Image in Medieval Europe & across the Mediterranean
  • Eccentric Cities: Art, Politics & Trade in Italy, 1100-1400
  • Image & Icon: Representing the Sacred in the Early Medieval World
  • Jerusalem in Western Medieval Art & Architecture
  • Medieval Cairo: An Introduction to Islamic Architecture
  • Norman Sicily: Encounters in the Medieval Mediterranean
  • The Art of the Dome: Building Heaven on Earth in the Early Medieval World

Early Modern

  • Art in Venice from Bellini to Titian
  • Castle Howard: Architecture, Gardens, Landscape;
  • Critical Approaches to the Baroque
  • Cut, Bite, Stamp: The Power of Print in Eighteenth Century Britain
  • The English Country House 1550-1900 (this also covers the Modern time period)
  • Encountering the Individual in Early Modern Portraits;
  • Elizabethan Architecture;
  • Image Controversies and Iconoclasms
  • Palladio and Palladianism
  • Satire and the City: William Hogarth and Eighteenth-Century London;
  • The British School: Sculpture in Britain, 1760-1837
  • The English Country House 1550-1900 (this also covers the Modern time period)
  • The English Urban Renaissance: Continuity and Change in Eighteenth-Century Architecture
  • The Georgian Face: Portraiture in Eighteenth-century England
  • The Power of Seventeenth-Century Realism
  • Velazquez
  • What is Architecture: An Introduction to Architectural Theory


  • American Photography, 1930 to the Present
  • Art and Colonialism in South Asia, c.1750-1900
  • Art in the USA: 1945-1975
  • Art of the Avant-Gardes
  • Casts and Cultures: The Crystal Palace Sydenham, 1854-1936
  • Contemporary Art
  • Contemporary Art in the Mediterranean and Islamic World
  • Drawing with Light: Nineteenth-century Photography
  • Futurism
  • Image and Word in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
  • Issues in Contemporary Art
  • Modern Colours: The New Black
  • Practice and Debate
  • Sculpture in the 20th Century
  • Situating the Body in the 1960s: Video/Performance/Space
  • The Elephant in the Room: Art and Money
  • The Modern Metropolis: Representing the City in France and Britain, 1840-1920
  • The Victorian Gothic Revival

Dissertation training:

You'll also spend time on a dissertation training module: building the skills you'll need when you embark on your dissertation in the third year. You'll develop your ability to work independently and design imaginative research strategies. You'll learn to how to devise a topic for your dissertation and gain crucial insight into conducting academic research.

Note: We often update the modules we run to reflect the active research in our department. These modules are some of the ones running for our current students.

Year 3

In your third year, you'll focus your studies on your dissertation and two special subject modules.


Your dissertation will draw on the knowledge and skills you have developed throughout your degree. It will consist of 7,000-8,000 words and represents a year-long, independent research project on a topic that most interests you. You will also choose special subject modules that might either support your dissertation or broaden your horizons in a different direction.

Special subject modules:


  • Bosch and Bruegel in Netherlandish Art
  • Church, College, and Castle 1250-1400
  • Death and Devotion in the Gothic Imagination
  • European Art of the High Middle Ages
  • Illuminating the Bible, 1200-1500
  • Impacts of the Late Antique c350-850
  • Making Sense of the World: Art, Medicine and Science
  • Pisa: A Mediterranean Centre of the 12th Century
  • Royal Spaces in Medieval Europe: Church, City and Realm
  • Seeing and Being Seen: English Art in the 14th Century
  • Stained Glass in the Great Church c1170-1350
  • The Art of Anglo-Saxon England c600-1066
  • The Art of the Insular World
  • The Age of Cathedrals: Medieval Architecture in England, 1050-1250
  • The Virgin's Places: Chartres, Siena, and Castile

Early Modern

  • Architecture and Politics in Stuart England
  • Architecture and Society in Fifteenth-Century Italy
  • Architecture, Gender, and Sexuality
  • Art and Patronage in 15th-century Florence
  • Art of the Northern Renaissance
  • Classical Architecture in France, 1600-1750
  • Making Faces: Portraiture in Eighteenth-century England
  • Materiality, Holiness, Place: Baroque Art & Architecture
  • New Approaches to Baroque Cities
  • The Self-Fashioning of Rembrandt
  • Visual Culture in the Seventh-century Dutch Republic


  • Art in Paris in the Nineteenth Century.
  • Art and Scale
  • Art in America 1770-1913
  • Art Law for Art Historians
  • Art Nouveau to the Bauhaus
  • Contemporary Art and Digital Culture
  • Global Encounters: Art, Visual Culture, and the British Empire
  • Global Pop? Pop in a Global Context
  • Interwoven: Fashion and Clothing in Art History
  • Mirrors and Screens: The World of Andy Warhol
  • Modern Architecture and Design:
  • Realism and Surrealism: Art and Politics Between the Wars
  • Subjectivity and Sexuality in Art since 1960
  • The Cultures of Sculpture, 1760-1914
  • The Making of a Modern Style, 1889-1933
  • The Modernist Object Image and Identity in California 1950-1985
  • Theories of Abstraction
  • Victorian Art
  • Victorian Sculpture

Note: We often update the modules we run to reflect the active research in our department. These modules are some of the ones running for our current students.

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:

  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • evaluate how artworks are presented to the public in museums, galleries and other settings, and propose new or alternative strategies for display.

World-leading research

We are ranked third in the UK for research performance against other History of Art Departments and second for the impact of our research (REF 2014).

World-class faculty

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 international. We will cover the cost of any major air/sea/rail travel and accommodation, but you will 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.

History of Art is one of the most intellectually stimulating degrees out there. Since starting at York I’ve had to gather and develop knowledge in a multitude of other subjects like psychology and philosophy as well as economic, social and political history.

“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

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. We'll teach you in small groups, of fifteen or less, through a combination of lectures, seminars, field trips, individual tutorials and online activities.

You'll be taught by the best: our art historians are curators with serious international reputations. Our internationally-renowned academics will challenge you to think critically about periods, places, images and ideas - and the scholarship they’ve inspired.

We believe in the importance of studying art and architecture in the original. So many modules include visits to collections, either locally, across the UK or on the Continent. The majority of these trips are funded. Recent destinations include: Rome, Paris, Milan, Florence and Basel. We also visit key cities in the UK; recent destinations have included Cambridge, Canterbury, Edinburgh, Manchester and London.

Overall workload

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

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Lectures and seminars180 hours180 hours156 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 History of Art which is on Campus West.

Most of your contact hours will be in Campus West, with some additional teaching on Campus East and at King's Manor in the city.

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 varied assessments to develop and evaluate your different strengths. Our assessments include:

  • Essays
  • Closed exams
  • Open papers - a take-home exam lasting 48 hours
  • Group projects
  • An 8,000-word research dissertation

You'll receive regular feedback on your assessment. You'll get verbal and written advice on your work in one-to-one tutorials. You'll also be able to discuss your work with your personal supervisor, who will help support you throughout your degree.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Written exams58%60%60%
Practical exams12%7%7%

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

Howe we teach art history, and how you'll learn in our department
Assessment methods in our Department of History of Art
My favourite thing about York is definitely the underground creative scene. At first glance, York can seem very Medieval focused in terms of visual arts but there’s a blossoming cultural scene that is incredibly engaging.
Kasimiira, Iceland

Careers and skills

The skills you'll develop on this course go far beyond art history. You might be surprised by the range of careers our students have gone in to. Our alumni are art educators, journalists, curators, auctioneers and valuers. We also have students who work in law, public administration, social work and education.

Many graduates take the first step of their careers on prestigious internships - recently at MoMA and the Guggenheim in Venice. Others go on to postgraduate study here and at other top universities.

Career opportunities

  • Academic careers
  • Antiques Dealer
  • Archivist
  • Art Consultant
  • Art practitioner
  • Broadcaster,
  • Charity Fundraiser
  • Conservation Officer
  • Curator
  • Editor
  • Freelance writer
  • Gallery Director
  • Learning Officer

Transferable skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Research
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Presenting and communicating
  • Persuasive writing
  • Independent thinking
  • Time management
  • Problem-solving

Entry requirements

Qualification Grade
A levels


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

General Studies is accepted.

BTEC National Extended Diploma: DDD/DDM
Cambridge Pre-U D3, D3, M2 - D3, M2, M2
European Baccalaureate Grade of 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 a minimum of 5.5 in each component

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).

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.

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: we're interested in what you have to say, rather than where you have been. 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.

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

Get in touch if you have any questions

Learn more

Department of History of Art

Discover York


We offer a range of campus accommodation to suit you and your budget, from economy to deluxe.

Student life

Explore campus and city life and hear what our current students have to say about living here.

The city

Lively, full of culture and beautiful, York is regularly voted one of the best places to live and visit in the UK.