BA History of Art

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BA History of Art

The Courtauld offers one undergraduate degree programme, the BA (Hons) History of Art. This seeks to attract students of the highest calibre, who are driven by an insatiable curiosity to learn about the visual arts and their histories.

The education we offer equips our students with a critical understanding of art from antiquity to the present, thus giving them an ideal foundation for further academic study. Our BA also inculcates a broad range of transferable skills that qualify our graduates to pursue a wide variety of careers. Taught mainly in small groups, and as often as possible directly in front of original works of art and architecture, our undergraduates learn to think for themselves, and how to communicate their thoughts to others in a lucid, disciplined and professional manner.

The undergraduate student who comes to The Courtauld becomes part of a vibrant intellectual community united by the same passion for knowledge about visual culture.  Like all of our degree programmes, the BA aims to give our students access to the best available research-led teaching, and to world-class learning resources, starting with our own specialist libraries and the treasures of The Courtauld Gallery, and encompassing the full and rich panoply of relevant materials that are on offer in London. Most students will also experience at least one study trip abroad during the course of their degree.

Key Facts

Status Full time
Duration 3 Years
UCAS code V350
Intake circa 60
Language Skills English
Fees 2016/7 TBC 2015/6 Fees (for reference):
Home/EU fee: £9,000
Overseas fee: £16,000

BA History of Art

The online versions of our prospectuses contain all of the information from our printed prospectuses. You can download a pdf version below or order a print prospectus.

Apply Now Prospectus

The BA History of Art is a full-time, three-year course which is designed to prepare you for a career in the arts or for further academic study.

You will be assigned a personal tutor who will help you put together a structured and progressive set of course choices in each successive year of the degree. Personal tutors can also discuss assessment procedures with you and provide the first point of contact for academic and personal problems.

The undergraduate degree at The Courtauld Institute of Art is a course unit degree, that is to say, a degree which aims to be responsive to the particular choices of individual students without losing its identity as a qualification in the study of the history of art.

Detailed information about the aims and objectives of the course can be found in the programme specification below:

BA Programme Specification

Please note that The Courtauld is in the process of changing the curriculum of the BA programme (specifically Year 2 & 3) from the 2016/17 Academic Year. We are acting on the recommendations of the periodic external review of the BA programme that took place last year. The change is driven predominantly by student feedback and our aim to continuously improve student satisfaction. Some of the areas being addressed are additional contact hours and more flexibility in terms of course allocation. Detailed information will be made available following a formal approval process.

Year One

The first year provides a broad coverage of the history of art. A Foundations course, dealing with major themes and issues from classical antiquity to the present day, runs through the year and comprises of lectures and discussion classes.

You will also take two topic courses, taught in groups of eight to ten students, which are based on first-hand study of original works of art in London.  Topics change from year to year but recent courses have included:

  • Introduction to Manuscripts
  • Getting to Grips with Rembrandt
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Contemporary Art in London Collections
  • Hogarth in London Collections

Language course

You will follow a year-long language course, taught in the Language Centre at the London School of Economics, in nearby Aldwych. The following are normally available: French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Mandarin.


Year Two

The second year introduces more specialised investigation, enabling you to develop critical thinking and extend your detailed knowledge of art historical periods.

First term

In the first term, students follow a lecture course called Frameworks for Interpretation. Students examine ways in which our understanding of art is shaped by different plproaches to it. You also select one Period course from a defined range, which has recently included:

  • Decline and Fall? Art and Transformation in Late Antiquity
  • A Tale of Two Cities: Painting and Sculpture in Florence and Rome c. 1470- 1513
  • Power and Patronage: Buildings, Books and the Courtly Arts for the House of Timur
  • History of the New Media

Second term

You will follow a second lecture course on Lessons in Interpretation, designed to complement the first term Frameworks and Period courses. Each week, a lecturer examines a single object and its interpretation in two in-depth classes; as with the other lecture courses, it is accompanied by discussions.

You also follow one Texts and Contexts course, exploring debates in the theory and practice of art historical scholarship, examining the methods and approaches of key art historians of the past. Texts and Contexts courses have recently included:

  • Translating Medieval Objects
  • Writing French Modernism: from Fauvism to the Circle of Montparnasse
  • Re-presenting the Past: Uses of History in Dress, Fashion and Art
Year Three

In the final year you will take two Special Option courses. These are designed to engage with materials and methods at an advanced level and equip students for further study or research. In most cases, courses are directly influenced by the course tutor’s current research. The options offered change annually but have recently included:

  • Power, Piety and Prestige: Art at the Courts of France c. 1340-1420
  • Art and Identities in Medieval Spain
  • Mughal Painting c. 1555-1748
  • Gender and the Body in Victorian Art
  • Fashion and Photography

Each year you will complete a number of essays and formal exams, which are designed to measure your level of achievement and understanding of the subject matter:

First Year
You will submit two essays in each of the autumn and spring terms, and take three formal examinations at the end of the academic year.

Second Year
You will take four formal examinations relating to each of your four courses at the end of the academic year and submit one 4,000-word essay which should address interests arising directly from your courses.

Third Year
Assessment is based on four formal examinations at the end of the academic year relating to the Special Option Courses and one 5,000-word essay on a topic of particular interest.

In addition to formal assessments, you will be assessed informally on an ongoing basis, which may include:

  • Contribution to class discussion
  • Class presentations
  • Written work

At the end of each course, you will have a tutorial session with your personal tutor to discuss your progress and performance.

We welcome applicants who have a serious interest in, and enthusiasm for, the study of art history. Entry is competitive; however, The Courtauld is committed to admitting students with the best ability and potential regardless of their educational background or financial resources. We aim to allow applicants to show themselves to their best advantage, so while the following describes the standard entry requirements, please note that these are flexible (offers are sometimes modified to meet individual circumstances). You will not be required to have studied history of art previously, however, advanced study in the humanities is recommended.



A-levels: typical offer is AAB (excluding General Studies).

Admissions tutors are flexible on subjects studied, however where a student is completing two A-Levels in practical art subjects, a fourth A-Level is required to accommodate for overlap of course content.

GCSE: A grade A-C in a European language is desirable but not required.

Scottish Highers: AAAAB or AAABB, usually supplemented by two or more Advanced Highers.

Offers made to candidates on the basis of the Advanced Higher subjects are likely to be set at AA for two subjects, and AAB for three subjects.

Welsh Baccalaureate: Advanced Diploma with two A grades at A-Level alongside the Core Certificate at Level 3.

International Baccalaureate (IB): a minimum 35 points overall, including a score of at least 6 in Group 1 (Language A1), Group 3 (Individuals and Societies) and Group 6 (Arts).

Cambridge Pre-U: D3, D3, M2 in three Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects.


Access: Access to Humanities Diploma at Level 3 with 39 Level 3 credits from units awarded at Distinction, with the remaining credits at Merit.



All applicants are expected to have an effective knowledge of English, both spoken and written. For applicants whose first language is not English, we require proof of English proficiency – for details, please see the English Language Requirements page.

Mature students

We welcome applications from mature candidates (i.e. at least 21 years old at the time of application). Applicants should forward a CV and any transcripts of results from recent study to the Academic Registry, in addition to completing the UCAS application form.

Widening participation

We are committed to widening participation at the Institute and to higher education in general. We therefore reserve the right to make differential offers to applicants from socio-economic groups that are under-represented in Higher Education.

International students

The Courtauld has a long tradition of welcoming international students. International applicants are required to apply through UCAS, and a transcript of final secondary school results should be sent to the Academic Registry if they are not reported to UCAS. For further advice on entrance requirements (including international equivalencies or students holding a combination of qualifications) contact Academic Registry at Please note, if shortlisted, telephone interviews are available for international students.

USA Applicants

We typically look for completion of high school with a 3.5 GPA. We will also consider completion of high school with 3 AP exams with scores of at least 5, 5, 4.

Fees 2016/7 TBC

Fees 2015/16 (for reference):

Home/ EU fee £9,000

Overseas fee £16,000

Fees are subject to change each academic year. You can find out what qualifies as home, EU, and overseas fees here.

Financial support for your studies

Find information about loans, grants, and bursaries to support you during your undergraduate studies at The Courtauld here.

Apply for this course

Apply for this course or download a prospectus for more information.

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