BA History of Art – 2021 entry

Course Overview


Applications closed


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


3 years (full-time)

Awarding body

University of London


80 - 100 students per year

If you are applying for 2022 entry or beyond, please view the main BA History of Art page.

Course Overview

In 2022/23, we are launching an exciting new curriculum, offering teaching across an unrivalled breadth of periods and cultures. You will have the opportunity to study art and architecture from late antiquity to the present, and from across the Globe: from Byzantium to the Early Modern Islamic World, from Medieval and Renaissance Europe to International Modernism, and from Contemporary China to the African Diaspora. Our objects of study include buildings, paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, performance and installation art, fashion history, design and more.

Over three years of study, our BA degree builds up a broad, deep and multifaceted understanding of Art History, encouraging both range and specialism and fostering subject-specific and transferable skills and knowledge. It encourages you to study works of art at first hand, including The Courtauld’s own extraordinary collections, and to understand them in the light of the latest critical approaches and ideas. All our teachers are researchers at the cutting edge of their areas of specialism and they bring their knowledge, discoveries and ideas to discuss with you in seminars, lectures, gallery visits and tutorials. The modules we teach are directly shaped by the tutor’s research and partly for that reason, they change from year to year – modules outlined below are therefore indicative of subjects that may be on offer.

You’ll also have the opportunity to study a language, and apply for dedicated funds to travel and see works of art you are studying.

Courtauld students come from all kinds of backgrounds, and most are studying the History of Art for the first time. History of Art is a broad, exciting humanities degree that prepares students for many, diverse career routes, and our students have gone on to a range of careers both within the cultural and heritage industries, the art world and beyond.

Download the undergraduate prospectus:

Undergraduate Prospectus 2021/22

You do not need any background in art history to apply.

We warmly encourage students of all backgrounds to apply to the Institute. If you are applying as a candidate from socio-economic groups that are under-represented in Higher Education, we are able to make you a lower offer than our typical entry requirement.

A-levels: Grades AAA-ABB (excluding General Studies).

There are no required subjects.

International A-levels: Applicants sitting International A and AS Levels can generally expect their grades to be accepted as comparable, grade for grade, to UK AS and A level grades.

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

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

If you are studying the Advanced Higher subjects, you are likely to be set 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.

European Baccalaureate: 80% overall.

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.

International applicants

Entry requirements for many EU and International qualifications can be found here.

English Language proficiency: You will be expected to have an effective knowledge of English, both spoken and written in order to apply. If your first language is not English, we will require proof of English proficiency – for details, please see the English Language Requirements page.

Mature Students

We welcome applications from mature candidates, defined as those at least 21 years old at the time of application. If you are a mature applicant, please forward a copy of your CV and any transcripts of results from recent study to our admissions team via email, in addition to completing the UCAS application form.

Admissions flexibility for students affected by Covid-19 pandemic: The Courtauld acknowledges that students completing their A-Levels and equivalent qualifications worldwide have faced a year of disruption to their studies. To ensure students are not disadvantaged, we will afford extra flexibility, accepting students who miss out on our entry requirement range by one grade (or equivalent), in particular candidates from socio-economic groups that are under-represented in Higher Education. Read more here.

For further advice on entrance requirements, please contact Student and Academic Services

The Art History degree at The Courtauld builds over the course of the three years to give you a broad knowledge of the history of art, as well as detailed, in-depth teaching with increased specialisation towards the end of the degree. There are opportunities to develop your own particular research interests as well. 

Year 1:

The first year provides you with a groundwork for the study of art history

The Foundations course gives you a broad historical introduction to the study of art history from antiquity to the present day in many different global contexts. You will also take two Topic courses which focus on direct encounters with art at first hand in the museums and galleries of London. In addition, you take a Language Course, delivered by the Language school at the London School of Economics (LSE).

Indicative modules:

• Contemporary Art in London
• The Global City: Urban Issues in Contemporary Art
• Sensory Encounters with Dress and Textiles
• Techniques and Meaning in 20th Century Art
• Modernism and the Sacred
• Sites and Monuments
• Possibilities of Portraiture
• Persian Manuscripts
• Looking at the Overlooked: An Introduction to Early Modern Still Life
• Northern European Art in London Collections
• Graphic Arts in the Italian Renaissance
• Early Italian Art in London Collections
• Westminster Abbey
• Medieval Sculpture in London Collections
• The Pursuit of Leisure in the Middle Ages
• Late Antique and Byzantine Art

Year 2

The second year will give you a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of the history of art. You select two courses that look in greater depth at a particular period, theme or place to understand the art in its context, and you take the Frameworks course that introduces you to the theories and conceptual approaches that have been developed to understand and interpret art. You also begin as an independent researcher, writing an essay on a topic you develop with a supervisor.

Indicative modules:

• Mapping Contemporary Asian Art
• Cold War Cultures: Art in a Divided World 1945–1991
• Artists, Radicals, Mystics: European Art c.1800
• From Shiraz to Beijing: Persian Arts in the Global Fifteenth-Century
• From London to Namibia: Art, Travel and Imagination in the Middle Ages
• Art and Identities in Medieval Spain

Year 3:

The final year is centred around two Special Options in which you focus on two new aspects of art history, and engage with the latest ideas and debates in the subject. These are driven by cutting-edge research. You also take a year-long course, Lessons in Critical Interpretation, that looks at the study of particular objects, buildings and works of art, and asks you to develop a pair of lectures yourself around a work that you choose. The final year essay gives you the opportunity to show your own research and writing skills.

Indicative modules:

• Body, Space and Power in Contemporary Chinese Art
• Modern and Postmodern Photography
• Art and the Modern Nation
• Reassembling Modernism: Artists’ Networks in Europe 1909–1960
• Beyond Painting and Sculpture: Happenings and Performance through the Twentieth Century
• Leisure, commerce and crime in the
Victorian Metropolis
• Monuments and Memory
• Art and Empire in Eighteenth-century London
• Dripping Guts and Heavenly Wonders: the Body as Subject and Object in North Western Europe 1100–1450
• East and West at the Time of the Crusades

The BA course is taught through a combination of lectures, seminar and discussion classes, site visits and one-to-one tutorial meetings.

Seminar classes are held in classes of up to 10 students to facilitate an intimate environment in which to study and engage with subjects in depth with your teacher and your classmates.

Lectures are delivered and taught to the full student cohort, and are supported by discussion classes in which you are divided into smaller groups of up to 20 students. The discussion classes enable you to discuss and develop your understanding of topics covered in lectures in a setting where you are invited to actively participate in debates and discussion.

In addition, you have timetabled meetings with your personal tutor at least once per term and you can always request further meetings with your personal tutor should you wish.

Throughout your degree, you will be taught by a mixture of professors, senior lecturers, lecturers and doctoral researchers, who bring a rich diversity of knowledge and experience to the classroom. Our faculty come from many different backgrounds across the world and are among the leading experts in their field. They have published important works about their areas of expertise, and will introduce you to the excitement and dynamism of their cutting-edge research.


The course involves a variety of methods of assessment:



In addition, each year you will give presentations in class and write a number of informal essays or other exercises on which you get feedback to help develop your speaking and writing skills. These are compulsory but do not count towards your degree marks.

Year 1: 50% examinations; 42.5% coursework; 7.5% oral examination (language). These marks do not count towards your final degree, but you must pass in order to progress into your second year.

Year 2: 67% examinations; 33% coursework. The Second year represents 25% of your final degree mark

Year 3: 50% exams; 50% coursework. This represents 75% of your final degree mark

Tuition fees:

2020/21 fees are available here.

Undergraduate Student loans:

Please visit the Student Finance England website for further information and to apply online.


The Courtauld is committed to making its degree accessible to all suitably qualified Home students. We offer financial support, up to £3,000 per year, on a sliding scale for Home undergraduate students who meet set criteria. More information can be found here.


The James Hughes-Hallett Undergraduate Scholarship has been established through generous philanthropy to support students who are from groups that are underrepresented in UK Higher Education. The scholarship is worth £10,000 over the duration of your three-year degree. More information can be found here.


Where possible, we encourage and support travel to see artworks at first hand.

For individual projects, you can apply to the John Hayes Travel Fund, which awards about £13,000 each year to students to travel to see art at first hand for themselves.

In addition, many final year special options include short group trips with the lecturer to see the art they are studying. These trips are subsidised:

UK trip: £150
European trip: £350
Non-European International trip: £550

Trips are planned with the subsidies in mind, in order to minimise any additional costs for students. However, it is possible that subsidies will not cover all costs. Students are encouraged to speak to Student and Academic Services, should they need further support.