Graduate Diploma in the History of Art

Course Overview


Applications open


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


9 months (full-time)

Awarding body

University of London


30 students per year

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 ‘Foundations’ modules, which run in two parts across the Autumn and Spring semesters, you will gain a broad overview of art historical themes and methods. Alongside this, you will take a ‘Constellations’ module each semester, devoted to looking in greater depth at a theme and/or period in the History of Art. Finally, you will also write a 5,000- word assessed essay, which allows you to explore a particular issue and develop your individual research skills.

The teaching is a mixture of lectures (with up to 100 students) and seminars in groups of 10–15 students.

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.

In addition to the compulsory elements of the programme, you are welcome to attend lectures from other programmes, including the other Constellations options and ‘Frameworks’, which provides a challenging introduction to art historical methodologies, ranging from biography, formalism and iconology to Marxism, psychoanalysis and postcolonial theory.

The Diploma is particularly suitable for people coming back into higher education after a period away, or those who want to gain a broad overview of the possibilities of Art History before moving on to more specialised study. It provides a rigorous and solid foundation for further postgraduate 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 art education or publishing, or combine skills and knowledge from a previous career with Art History to take an entirely new path. There are others who take the Diploma purely for their own satisfaction and personal development.

Whatever your motivation, you will become 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.

Download the postgraduate prospectus 2022/23:

Courtauld PG Prospectus 22/23

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 and Structure

The Graduate Diploma is structured into three elements:

  1. Foundations 1 and 2: A series of lectures, dealing with a range of major themes and issues from antiquity to the present day across the globe, runs in two parts in semesters 1 and 2. It is supported by discussion classes of about 15 students which help you to build up your confidence in looking, thinking, discussing, and writing about Art History. These modules are assessed by coursework essays.
  2. Constellations I and II: In each semester you will take one of several available Constellations modules, with twice-weekly lectures on a broad theme and/or period in the History of Art, and an accompanying weekly seminar (maximum 10 students) which will engage with a particular aspect of the theme in a separate but complementary way. Modules are assigned taking into account student preference, but please note that in order to retain small group teaching and appropriate range across your Diploma we are unable to guarantee specific choices. The modules on offer differ in any given year, but have previously included:
  • From Shiraz to Beijing: Persian Arts in the Global Fifteenth Century
  • Cold War Cultures: Art in a Divided World 1945–1991
  • Object, Subject, World: American Art 1945–1975
  • Landscape and Environment in Early Modern China: Nature and the City in Premodern China
  • Arts in Italy 1580–1680: Mass Culture, Innovation and Censorship
  • The City and the Country: Painting in France, 1871–1914
  • Questioning the Italian Renaissance: Art in Italy from 1470–1527

Constellations modules are assessed by exam.

  1. The Assessed Essay: This 5,000-word essay provides an opportunity to undertake a more substantial piece of independent research. It allows you to engage with an extended treatment of an object or issue on a subject of your choice, supported by a supervisor from amongst the faculty.


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 and Funding

Tuition fees are available here.

Financial support for your studies

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

Please note students on this programme are not eligible for a student loan.

Careers and Employability

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.

Graduate Diploma Virtual Open Day

Studying at The Courtauld 2022/23- an overview