Graduate Diploma in the History of Art - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Graduate Diploma in the History of Art

Search for:

Graduate Diploma in the History of Art


Postgraduate Taught Courses

Graduate Diploma in the History of Art

Course Overview

The Graduate Diploma is a concentrated form of the undergraduate degree and gives graduates of other disciplines the opportunity to transfer their existing skills to the study of Art History. Through the Foundations course, it offers a broad overview of art historical themes and methods, and through Constellations courses and the assessed essay provides the opportunity to look in depth at particular periods or issues and to develop individual research skills. The programme is supported by a personal tutor and by study sessions and workshops on topics such as reading art historical texts and essay writing. Students have access to all that the Courtauld has to offer, including world-class events run by the Research Forum, careers events and one-to-one sessions with professional writers.

The Diploma provides a rigorous and solid foundation for further post-graduate study, and many graduates from the programme continue to MA study at The Courtauld or elsewhere. Others go on to careers in the art world, such as in art education or publishing, or combine skills and knowledge from a previous career with Art History to take an entirely new path. Still others take the Diploma purely for their own satisfaction and personal development. Whatever their motivation, Diplomatists find themselves to be part of a diverse and rich cohort, ready to share experiences and knowledge in a way that fosters high levels of engagement, academic achievement and a unique sense of community that often long outlasts the taught programme itself.

Key Facts

Location: Vernon Square Kings Cross, London WC1X 9EP (during The Courtauld Connects project)

Status: Full-time

Intake:  30

Duration: 9 Months

Awarding Body: University of London

Applications: Applications for 2021/22 entry will open by the end of October 2020. See ‘How to Apply‘ page.

Open Evening and Campus Tours

Entry Requirements

UK qualifications : Students will normally have achieved a good 2.1 in their Bachelor’s degree, considered to be an overall average 65% or above.

Overseas qualification: Equivalent to a good 2.1 in a UK first degree (e.g. US applicants should have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above).

Please note that applicants are invited to interview on a case-by-case basis.

English language requirements: If your first language is not English, we require proof of English language proficiency –please see the English Language Requirements page.

Teaching Programme & Structure

The Graduate Diploma is made up of three taught courses, which run over two terms, and an Assessed essay (dissertation):

  • In the Autumn term you follow the Foundations Course, an introduction to different periods, themes and media in history, from the Classical world to today. Alongside this you take a Constellation Course, which concentrates on the detailed scrutiny of works of art, many visible in London collections.
  • Examination of the Autumn Constellation courses takes place in the first week of the Spring term. You then follow the second half of the Foundations Course, and take a second Constellation Course.
  • In the Summer term, you have time to write your Assessed Essay and prepare for the examination for your Spring Constellation course, which takes place in May. The Assessed Essay is your chance to carry out extended research into a question, theme or work(s) of art that particularly interest(s) you. The summer term is free from lectures and seminars, leaving time to write the assessed essay (supervised by a member of the faculty) and prepare for the examination.

As well as the very full programme of research seminars and lectures run by the Research Forum, you are also encouraged to attend other lectures that take place in the Lecture theatre.

The Foundations lecture course

Foundations consists of a series of 60 lectures, arranged broadly chronologically. This is not intended to be a survey course – rather it offers an introduction to a selected range of major monuments, objects, themes and issues in the History of Art from classical antiquity to the present, with specific case studies reflecting current faculty research and interests.

The lectures are divided into ten blocks, each of which covers a particular period, place or issue. The Foundations lectures are supported by weekly discussion classes, which give students the opportunity to analyse the arguments proposed in the lectures, develop critical skills, and raise any questions they may have.


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 more heavily on objects, and in the Spring term, more specifically on texts.

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.


All students are required to take all four elements of the course. The Diploma is assessed in the following way:

Course  Percentage of Diploma Assessment method
Foundations 20% Two 2,500-word essays
Autumn Constellation Course 25% One 3-hour examination
Spring Constellation Course 25% One 3-hour examination
Essay 30% One 5,000-word essay


Fees & Funding

2020/21 fees are available here.

Fees are subject to change each academic year. Fee information, including what qualifies as home, EU, and overseas fees, can be found here.

Financial support for your studies

Further information about loans, grants, and bursaries to support you during your studies at The Courtauld can be found here.

Careers & Employment

The Graduate Diploma programme is designed to enable you to build on previous careers or study, or to change career or direction. It equips students with highly transferable skills, relevant to a wide range of employment opportunities, or further academic study. Our graduates are not only equipped with a detailed knowledge and understanding of the History of Art, but also learn how to:

  • Analyse visual imagery and articulate sophisticated arguments in formal writing and in oral presentations.
  • Read critically and economically.
  • Assimilate complex material.
  • Formulate and express a broad range of different ideas.
  • Present research to a varied audience.
  • Develop independent research skills.
  • Experience collaborative work in groups.

With these skills, Courtauld graduates go on to further study and to jobs across the economy including:

Curators, Conservators, Art Dealers, Auction House experts, Lawyers, Entrepreneurs, Publishers, Media professionals, Teachers, Banking and Finance, Journalists, Business / Marketing & Communications, Fashion buyers, Civil servants

All students can access bespoke, one-to-one careers guidance throughout their studies. The Courtauld Careers Service offers advice and support on exploring career and further study options, changing career, finding internships, enhancing employability, understanding and navigating the jobs and self-employment market, and making successful applications. This service is available to all graduates for up to two years after graduation.


To support you through the degree, we offer:

Wellbeing: We have a dedicated Wellbeing team, with counsellors and advisors.

Academic Skills: The academic skills tutor offers group and one-to-one help to develop the skills and confidence you need to succeed on the degree. We also have two Royal Literary Fund fellows who will help you with your writing skills – concentrating on how to structure and improve your writing.

Prospectus cover

Postgraduate Prospectus 2020/21

Download the prospectus

Share This

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Close