BA History of Art - The Courtauld Institute of Art

BA History of Art

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BA History of Art



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 75
Language Skills English
2017/8 Fees: Home/EU fee: £9,250
Overseas fee: TBC

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 designed to prepare you for a career in the arts or for further academic study.

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.  Your Personal Tutor will guide you in a structured and progressive set of choices through each successive year of the degree, and to advise on the assessment procedures.

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.


Year One

The first-year art history courses are designed to offer you a broad coverage of the periods, regions, materials and approaches to art and architecture from antiquity to the present.  A course of lectures called Foundations runs throughout autumn and spring terms and into the early part of the summer term. This is supported by weekly discussion classes.  In each of the autumn and spring terms you will also take one Topic Course of focused study which will introduce you to some of the monuments, collections and art institutions of London. Finally, as art history is an international discipline, ability in a foreign language is essential (as well as being useful in your future life), and so you are expected to develop and improve your language skills in the first year.  You will therefore follow a weekly Language Course throughout the first year, starting in November. Language Teaching is provided by the Language Centre of the London School of Economics. You may choose any language provided by LSE; however, only certain courses will be tailored to our students. If you have a post-GCSE qualification in a language then you should choose a different one with the approval of your Personal Tutor.  You must complete the language examination at the end of the year.  Traditionally our students have done French, German or Italian.

By the end of the first year, you will have been taught through lectures and related discussion classes within the Foundations Course, and through group visits to buildings, galleries or museums to study objects at first hand.  You will also have submitted essays for individual feedback, some assessed as part of the course.  The objective of the year is the acquisition of a basic knowledge of objects and materials across a wide period.  The emphasis is on knowledge and the tools necessary to think and write critically about this knowledge and its acquisition.

Year Two

During the second year you will be introduced to more specialised investigation and encouraged to develop your critical thinking.  You take increasing responsibility for your learning, begin to give presentations, and to expand your knowledge within specific fields.  You will take three courses, all of which will combine lectures and small-group seminars.

The first of these courses is entitled Frameworks for Interpretation, which offers a critical introduction to some of the key methodologies (such as biography, taxonomy, formalism, iconology, psychoanalysis, etc.) that inform art-historical interpretation. Teaching delivery will alternate between weeks with two lectures, which will explore a selection of methodologies and debates within the discipline of art history, and weeks with seminars, which will be opportunities for thorough examinations of key texts and objects of study.

In addition to Frameworks for Interpretation, you will take two Constellation Courses (one in the Autumn term and one in the Spring term). These courses are designed to investigate art history through examination of a specific historical moment, a geographic region and/or an artistic medium. They offer both rich explorations of individual artists, art works and spaces, and opportunities to question art historical tropes and trajectories. These courses will be led by Courtauld faculty, who will teach two sessions per week which combine lectures and discussion. The courses also include separate weekly seminars led by Associate Lecturers: these seminars will cover material which is related to the theme of the lectures; in the Autumn term, seminars will focus on objects, and in the Spring term, seminars will focus on texts. Students should expect each Constellation seminar to be informally assessed by a minimum of 4 pieces of written or oral work – of which at least 2 must be essays with written feedback – and for both the elements of each Constellation to be formally assessed by examination.  The Courtauld is currently offering three Constellation course options in each of the Autumn and Spring terms, covering a broad range of chronological periods, geographical regions, and as far as possible a spread of media (painting, architecture, etc.).

You must also complete an extended essay in the Summer term as part of the assessment.

Year Three

In the final year of the degree, your courses are designed to enable you to engage with materials and methods at an advanced level and to equip you for further study or research.  You will take three courses, all of which will develop your familiarity with current methods and research techniques in art history.

Two of these courses are Special Options: you will take one in the Autumn term and one in the Spring term, chosen from a list of approximately ten Special Options (in BA2 you will be asked to submit preferences). These courses are taught in small groups and they encourage in-depth study and challenge the student to explore and engage fully with current issues and literature in focused but open-ended subjects, which are often chosen by teachers to relate to their current research.

The third BA3 course is entitled Lessons in Interpretation. As its name suggests, Lessons in Interpretation builds on the critical knowledge you acquired in Frameworks for Interpretation through an intense engagement with individual case studies: together, the two courses create a methodological spine to the degree. Like Frameworks for Interpretation, Lessons in Interpretation will be taught over the course of the Autumn and Spring terms and it will combine lectures and seminars.

In response to recent student feedback and in consideration of the specific learning outcomes for BA3, The Courtauld is currently planning to make modifications to this course.

Finally, you must complete a longer extended essay (BA dissertation) in the Summer term of your third year as part of the assessment.

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 two formal examinations at the end of the academic year.

Second Year
You will take three formal examinations relating to Frameworks for Interpretation and each of your Constellation 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 2017/8

Home / EU fee £9,250

Overseas fee To be confirmed

Please see below 2016/7 fees for indicative amounts.

Fees 2016/7

Home / EU fee £9,000

Overseas fee £16,800

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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