Graduate Diploma in History of Art, Offer Holders 2020 - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Graduate Diploma in History of Art, Offer Holders 2020

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Graduate Diploma in History of Art, Offer Holders 2020


Congratulations on your offer!

We are excited that you are considering studying at The Courtauld!

Over the next few months, we will be updating this with further resources. If there is anything in particular you’d like to see, please let us know.  If you have any questions, including about the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, please see please see our FAQs below, and do not hesitate to contact us.


Please find the recording from the Offer Holder webinar on Monday 18 May below. Kindly note that all questions asked during this webinar have been documented in the FAQs below. In addition, there is a recording from our Director.

grad dip webinar

Offer holder webinar

Watch here

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Message from our Director

Watch here

Taster seminars

Foundation Lectures

In the Autumn term, you will take the Foundations Course, an introduction to different periods, themes and media in history, from the Classical world to today. You can find three recorded lectures below, delivered by Dr Jo Applin.

Lecture 1

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Lecture 2

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Lecture 3

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Explore our events

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What makes The Courtauld unique?

Find out from The Courtald community

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Why does Art History Matter?

Hear from our academics

Courtauld Books Online

Courtauld Books Online is a series of online scholarly books, which are open-access, freely available to read online and to download without charge.

Gothic Architecture in Spain: Invention and Imitation

Read here

A Reader in East-Central-European Modernism 1918–1956

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Find out more, and explore the full range of books

More information

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the term dates?
Where can I found out about accommodation?
When are tuition fees due?

Invoices are issued in late August / early September, in line with our preliminary enrolment period which takes place online.

If there are any changes, we will update you accordingly.

When can we select our Constellation options?

You will receive information about this in early June, and should find out more in late June. Kindly note that we are unable to guarantee specific options.

Can I attend other lectures outside my timetable?

Yes, you can attend other Constellation courses and BA History of Art methodology courses.

What equipment do Ineed on the course?

You will ideally have a laptop, and have access to Wi-Fi. You do not need any further equipment.

Some students have tablets for their reading and note taking, although this is not necessary.

What is the course reading list?

Below is an offer a selection of books to look at before you begin your course this Autumn. They are not set texts, and they are not necessarily connected to the specific courses you will study. Rather than reading to accumulate knowledge, try to use these books to acquire some background on the texts on which many images are based (e.g. the Bible, Ovid), on how art history is practiced and has been written, and on historical background. Obviously, we do not expect you to have read all (or even many) of them, but try to read some.

Art History – some key texts and approaches

There are now many good primers on ways of studying art history; some include key texts with some discussion, others seek to describe and analyse the different approaches (such as biography, formal analysis, style, semiotics, iconography, aesthetics, deconstruction, psychoanalysis and gender studies). Among those available I recommend:

  • Klonk, M. Hatt, Art History: A critical introduction to its methods (Manchester, 2006)
  • Fernie, Art History and its Methods, a Reader (1995)
  • Preziosi, The Art of Art History (Oxford, 1998 and new eds)

For a very different approach, try:

  • Kirsch and R.S. Levenson, Seeing through Paintings. Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies (New Haven and London 2000), which shows what kinds of things can be learnt from technical examination.


Writing art history

Remind yourself of proper punctuation, language and writing style with:

  • Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots and Leaves: the Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (London, 2003)
  • Partridge, Usage and Abusage (various editions) is a very useful handbook of proper English usage.
  • A, d’Alleva, How to Write Art History (London 2006 and recent new edition).

Recognizing Subject Matter

To remind yourself of some basic religious iconography, read the Bible (especially the books of Genesis, Judges, and I Kings in the Old Testament; and one of the Gospels in the New Testament, as well as the Acts and Revelations). See also B. Williamson, Christian Art, A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford 2004).

For classical iconography, see Ovid, made most accessible in T. Hughes, Tales from Ovid (London 1997).

Once you are at the Institute you will have access to other resources in the library and on-line which include very useful guides to particular iconographies and stories.

Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists, various editions (eg Penguin Classics). Read a selection to remind yourself where art history began. The lives of Giotto, Masaccio, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo are some of the most famous and central, but try some of the shorter lives too.

Some historical texts/background

  • M. Roberts, The Penguin History of Europe (Harmondsworth, 2004).
  • Davies, Europe: A History (London, 1997).
  • Spufford, Power and Profit, The Merchant in Medieval Europe (London 2002) – a wonderful read and a tour de force of research.
  • Eric Hobsbawm, Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century, 1914-1991 (London 1994).

Period-specific art history texts

There are some very good ‘survey’ texts covering some of the areas you will be taught in the foundations course: a selection is below, some of which are written by Courtauld staff, past and present, several from the Oxford History of Art series.  Others are more specialized but still wide ranging and often very influential. As you will find, there is little time to read extra material as the foundations course is actually happening alongside your other courses so any reading done on this now will be very useful.

  • Beard and J. Henderson, Classical Art: From Greece to Rome (Oxford, 2001)
  • Elsner, Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph (Oxford 2000)
  • Lowden, Early Christian and Byzantine Art (London, 1997)
  • Coldstream, Medieval Architecture (Oxford 2002)
  • Camille, Gothic Art (London, 1996).
  • Martindale, The Rise of the Artist (1972)
  • Nash, Northern Renaissance Art (Oxford 2008)
  • Welch, Italian Renaissance Art (Oxford 1997)
  • Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style, 2nd ed., (Oxford, 1988). This short text has been very influential and is very readable
  • Alpers, The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the 17th Century (Chicago, 1983)
  • Crow, Painters and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Paris (New Haven and London, 1985)
  • Solkin, Painting for Money (New Haven and London, 1993)
  • Brettel, Modern Art 1850-1929 (Oxford 1999)
  • Green, Art in France 1900-1940 (New Haven and London, 2001)
  • Hopkins, After Modern Art (Oxford, 2000)
  • Stallabrass, High Art Lite (1996) also Contemporary Art. A Very Short Introduction (Oxford 2006)
  • Applin, Eccentric Objects: Rethinking Sculpture in 1960s America(New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012)
Where is the book library based?

Our book library is based in Vernon Square, and has over 200,000 books.

Our Somerset House libraries have an extensive journal collection, as well as other closed access material, like doctoral theses, which you are able to access.

When will we be able to access the Virtual Leaning Environment?

You will receive access when you enroll as a student at the start of the term.

We will send you pre-enrollment material prior to this.

I am an EU student. What changes will affect me?

If you are starting in 2020/21, there are no changes, including fees, which will remain consistent for the duration of your course. We do not have information for students starting beyond 202/21 academic year.

Am I eligible for financial support?

Unfortunately, we do not offer a scholarship for this programme, nor are you eligible to receive a UK government Student Loan.

When do we get to meet the other students in the programme?

We will organise another Zoom meeting with offer holders in July / August when you have accepted your offers. We will email you with further details closer to the time.

I have questions about the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on my application.

Please see our FAQs for offer holders, which we will review regularly.

How will I be taught in 2020?

Please find more information here.

You will also receive updates by email and be invited to join a Q&A meeting.

Will I be able to receive a visa for blended learning?

The Home Office has announced that Tier 4 Sponsors can sponsor new students studying through distance or blended learning

Read more information.

I have further questions - who should I contact?

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