Course Outline: Year Three - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Course Outline: Year Three

Search for:

BA (Hons) History of Art

Course Outline: Year Three



Course Outline: Year Three

Year Three

In the final year of the degree, the 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.

Year Three comprises three main components:

  • Two Special Options, (one in the Autumn and one in the Spring Term)
  • A Lessons in Critical Interpretation lecture and seminar series, (which runs throughout the Autumn and Spring term). 
  • A 5,000-word BA Dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Full details of these components, and their weighting towards your overall Year Three grade, are outlined in the table at the end of this section.

Please note, you are expected to allocate a minimum of 34 hours per week to study in Year Three (inclusive of pre-assigned contact hours, class preparation, and informally-assessed essay and presentation research and writing) during the Autumn and Spring terms. Study hours in the Summer term will vary.

Special Options: Overview

In Year Three, you will complete two Special Options: one in the Autumn term and one in the Spring term, chosen from a list of approximately eight Special Options per term. These courses are taught in small groups of 10 or less. They encourage in-depth study and challenge you to explore and engage fully with current issues and literature in focused but open-ended subjects which are related to their teachers’ current research.

A full reading list is shared with you at the start of each term, which contains all compulsory texts which students are expected to read before each lecture, as well as suggestions for recommended reading. You should estimate about 4.5 hours of reading time per class.

Please note that Special Options are taught by both permanent members of Faculty and Associate Lecturers. The specific Special Option courses vary each year dependent on which Faculty and Associate Lecturers will be teaching, and their specialisms. You will be invited to state your preferences for which Special Options you would like to study in June of Year Two. As with the Constellation courses, we do our best to accommodate your preferences, whilst ensuring that class sizes remain small, and ensure that you are continuing to build a broad knowledge of History of Art at large.

An indicative list of Special Options can be found here, based on 2017/18.  

Special Options: Assessment 

  • Informal assessment: You will complete various presentations, essays and other assignments throughout the Autumn and Spring terms as part of the informal assessment in this module. Topics and deadlines will be shared with you at the beginning of term.

(The marks you receive for these assignments do not form part of formal assessment, but completion of them is a mandatory part of the course, as they are used as aids to embed the learning and allow you to continue to develop your critical writing techniques with the support of feedback from your course tutor).

  • Formal assessment: Each Special Option will be assessed with two 3-hour examinations which will take place in January (to assess the Autumn-term Special Option) and in June (to assess the Spring-term Special Option).

Lessons in Critical Interpretation: Overview

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

This means that for each key ‘Lesson’, two 1-hour lectures are given in the first week, to introduce you to the key concepts and debates, followed by one 2-hour seminar in the next week, which allows you the opportunity for thorough examinations of the key texts and objects of study. There are 17 lectures in total, and 9 seminars in total for this course.

As part of the Lessons in Critical Interpretation series, you are also expected to complete compulsory readings before each lecture/seminar, and the reading lists for these will be shared with you at the beginning of each term. You should expect to assign 3.5 hours to reading and preparation for each lecture/seminar.

Seminar classes are led by Associate Lecturers; members of Faculty deliver the lecture pairs. Please note that the specific content which makes up the Lessons for Critical Interpretation lecture series changes year on year based on lecturers’ specialisms. 

An indicative timetable and list of lecture titles can be found here, based on 2017/18. The timetable and list of lecture titles will be finalised and distributed to you during your first week post-enrolment.

Lessons in Critical Interpretation: Assessment

  • Informal assessment: You will complete various presentations, essays and other assignments throughout the Autumn and Spring terms as part of the informal assessment in this module. Guidelines and deadlines for these assignments will be shared with you along with your reading list at the start of each term.

(These essays and presentations will be marked by the same Associate Lecturer who has led the student’s seminar classes, and she or he will provide written and/or verbal feedback on them. The essay and the presentation do not contribute directly towards your final Year Three grade, but completion of them are a compulsory element of the module, used to help you consolidate and embed key learnings and improve your critical writing technique).

  • Formal assessment: This module is formally assessed by a written submission comprising two  illustrated lecture texts, totalling 5,000 words.

BA Dissertation: Overview

The BA Dissertation is an opportunity for you to specialise in a key topic of interest, and write an extended 5,000-word essay with the support of a supervisor who is either a faculty member or an Associate Lecturer. This allows you to immerse yourself in independent research, independent thinking, and hone your critical writing skills into a significant body of work. Students often find that they have identified a topic of interest from one of the modules throughout their three years of study, but if they wish to focus on a completely new area that ignites a particular passion we will always do our best to encourage and support this.

With guidance from your personal tutors and Head of Department (in a special meeting convened in the Autumn term), you will seek out their own supervisor. Note: this should be done early as tutors may only supervise a certain number of students, and will often approve final topics on a first-come first-serve basis.

You are allowed one introductory meeting with your supervisor to talk through the scope and proposed structure/contents of their essay, and receive advice. You then submit a draft of the essay to your supervisor, and receive both written and verbal feedback in another one-to-one session.

BA Dissertation: Assessment 

  • Formal assessment: Assessment will be in the form of the submitted 5,000-word essay.

Academic Skills sessions: Overview

You will have 0.5 hours of study skills sessions per week which will directly follow on from one of the lectures in your schedule. Full details of this will be available to them when you receive your timetable at the beginning of term.

Year Three – Course Unit Breakdown

Year Three assessment contributes 75% towards the overall degree grade. Year Three modules are weighted and assessed in the following ways:






Total credits

Total % contribution to final degree grade


Special Option 1

Special Option 2

Lessons in Critical Interpretation




Assessment method

Examination essays (2 x 3-hour exams)

Examination essays (2 x 3-hour exams)

Coursework essay (totalling 5,000 words)

Coursework essay (1 x 5,000 words)




30 (25%)

30 (25%)

30 (25%)

30 (25%)

120 (100%)


TOTAL 120 Credits = 100% of BA3 / 75% of final grade.


Share This

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Close