Fine Art / Art History

Key Facts

Code WV13
  • Typical A-level offer

    BBC with B in Art or appropriate plus satisfactory portfolio

  • Course Length

    3 Years

Further details on entry requirements

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In choosing to study a Fine Art and Art History Degree at Aberystwyth University you will join one of the best Art departments in the UK. With drawing skills placed firmly at the heart of the student experience, and an academic curriculum that includes methodology, criticism, and theoretical suppositions, you will combine your own personal artistic development with the study of art history and visual cultures. Upon successful completion of the Fine Art and Art History Degree you will have the skills and capabilities sought by employers and the foundation for a successful career.

Top 5 in the UK for Fine Art subject area (NSS 2016)

School of Art: 100% student satisfaction (NSS 2016)

100% of undergraduates from the School of Art who graduated in 2015 were in employment or further education six months after graduating (DLHE 2015)

  • Overview
  • Modules
  • Employability
  • Teaching & Learning
  • Student Views


This joint honours programme will enable you to develop your professional artistic practice under the tutelage of practising artists and curators, while gaining the critical and analytical skills required by art historians.

Why study Fine Art and Art History at Aberystwyth?

The teaching of Art at Aberystwyth has a distinguished history that goes back to 1917, when it was one of only a handful of British universities to be concerned with the Art and Crafts Movement. The listed building which houses the School of Art, and which celebrated its centenary in 2007, has been adapted to meet the needs of today’s Fine Art education while retaining many of its original features. It is an elegant symbol of the School’s aim to link the traditional and the contemporary.

The School can offer you excellent facilities for the study of painting, the graphic arts, and photography, with studio facilities for painting, printmaking in intaglio, lithography, screen and relief printing, typography, black and white and colour photography, computer graphics, and most forms of reprographics.

As a student at Aberystwyth you will have access to a superb range of visual arts, including an extensive collection of original artworks. The School is also an Accredited Museum that runs its own galleries and houses a collection of some 20,000 prints, photographs, drawings and watercolours, ceramics and decorative art dating from the fifteenth century to the present day. The Ceramics Gallery in the University Arts Centre houses an important collection of twentieth-century studio pottery.

Our lecturers include practising artists, historians and theorists, who are highly regarded in their respective fields. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework assessment (2014) 75% of publications and exhibitions undertaken by the Department were rated as being internationally recognised or higher.

In addition to the University library, as an Art student at Aberystwyth you will enjoy unrivalled access to the National Library of Wales. One of only five copyright libraries in the United Kingdom, with over six million books, maps, prints and manuscripts, it is situated within a five-minute walk of the Department. It holds a fine collection of pictures and photographs in original and digital media, ranging from paintings and drawings on paper and canvas to cartoons and book illustrations.

The School runs an exciting programme of guest lectures and workshops from all aspects of the arts, and fieldtrips and excursions offer you the opportunity to enjoy art in a variety of historic and cultural settings. All students at the School of Art have the option to take part in an overseas field trip, currently to New York.

Our Staff

Through their active involvement with the practice, history and curation of art, staff members of the School of Art seek to provide a rich learning environment for the student. Their experience as exhibiting artists, publishing art historians and practising curators actively informs the teaching.


Please note: The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery during the next academic year and may be subject to change. They are included here to give an indication of how the course is structured.


Career prospects

While many Fine Art and Art History graduates take up careers in the creative industries such as professional artists, photographers and printmakers, graphic designers, fashion and textile designers, and illustrators, others find employment as museum and art gallery curators, auctioneers, arts journalists, researchers, conservation officers, art therapists, or in arts administration or library work. Postgraduate study can lead to further career options in teaching and lecturing.

Transferable Skills

Studying for a degree in Fine Art and Art History will equip you with a range of transferable skills which are highly valued by employers. These include:

• the ability to express ideas and communicate information in a clear and structured manner, in both written and oral form
• effective problem-solving and creative thinking skills
• the ability to work independently
• time-management and organisational skills, including the ability to meet deadlines
• self-motivation and self-reliance
• team-working, with the ability to discuss concepts in groups, accommodating different ideas and reaching agreement
• research skills

Year in Employment scheme (YES)
The University operates a Year in Employment Scheme (YES), which offers you a fantastic opportunity to take a year out between your second and third year to work in an organisation in the UK or overseas. YES provides a very rewarding and worthwhile experience, both personally and professionally, and can help you to stand out from the crowd in a very competitive job market. The University’s Career Service will help you to explore your options and secure a suitable work placement.

GO Wales
GO Wales is administered by the University’s Career Service, working with local businesses to create paid work placements of a few weeks’ duration for students. It gives you the opportunity to gain valuable work experience which will enhance your CV and make you more attractive to potential employers.

Teaching & Learning

What will I learn?

As an intellectual and professional pursuit, Fine Art requires training, creative intelligence, and a thorough knowledge of theory and practice both present and past. At the School of Art, we are dedicated to the development and innovative application of traditional skills with contemporary practice and theory. We specialize in the history and practice of drawing, painting, book illustration, printmaking, photography and multimedia (installation, digital art, video and sound).

In your first year you will explore current issues in art history and visual culture. You will study the fundamentals of drawing and the use of colour, and will be encouraged to bring together historical and present understanding of visual culture with your own practice in drawing, painting and other aspects of making art. Art History core modules will cover European and American art and its histories, while option modules will address many thematic and stylistic aspects of art, including the representation of the body, landscape in art, the history of the graphic arts, photographic theories and practices, and traditional painting techniques, among others.

In the second and third years you will specialize in the media and techniques which interest you most, and studio options are offered in one or more of the following: drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, and book illustration. Your own art will be enriched, challenged and expanded by your growing understanding of the cultural context of the subject and the range of new techniques which you will learn during the course. You will continue your core art historical studies from 1900 to the present day, and you can construct your own curriculum from a broad portfolio of optional modules including: Art and Society; Contemporary Art; History of Graphic Art; History of Photography; Nineteenth-Century Art; the Gothic Imagination; and Italian Art.

How will I be taught?

Teaching is delivered through a series of workshops and seminars alongside traditional lectures, with practical work forming a high proportion of your learning experience. Directed group work in the first year gives way to smaller specialised group projects and individual tuition in the second year. In your final year you will devise your own projects and receive one-to-one tuition to support you throughout.

Methods of assessment include essays, exams, practical exercises, and presentations. You will also create a portfolio of paintings, drawings, sketchbooks and related research materials which will form a large proportion of your continuous assessment. The culmination of your work is the exhibition in your final year. As well as the public presentation of your art in the exhibition format, you will explain in an accompanying piece of reflective writing the inspiration, ideas and practical issues relating to the making of it.

You will be assigned a personal tutor throughout your degree course, who will help you with any problems or queries, whether these are academic-related or personal issues. You should feel free to contact them at any time for help and advice.

You will also have the opportunity to complete a Personal Development Plan (PDP) at Aberystwyth. This is a structured process of self-appraisal, reflection, and planning, which will enable you to chart your personal, academic and professional development throughout your time at university. By recording your academic performance, and highlighting the skills you already have and those you will need for future employability, the PDP portfolio will equip you with the necessary tools to plan effectively, develop successful approaches to study, and consider your future career options and aspirations.

Student Views

The lecturers are really passionate and knowledgeable about art and their own disciplines. I feel like I am always growing and improving as an artist, as my tutors take time to give me good constructive feedback. Amelia Jenkinson

I love that Art History is so many courses rolled in to one. It is not just looking at art. It is about social and political history, social anthropology, studying different cultures and learning about how artists communicate their ideas and thoughts through their own mediums. It has helped me to get a much greater grasp of history in general and to understand how to enjoy looking at art and comprehend its messages. Learning about art history has also taught me a lot about how to research and the importance of maintaining and appreciating our shared cultural heritage. Amy Barson

Entry Requirements

A Levels BBC with B in Art or appropriate plus satisfactory portfolio

GCSE requirements (grade C min):
English or Welsh

BTEC National Diploma:
DMM plus satisfactory portfolio

International Students

International Baccalaureate:
30 points overall with Art or appropriate at Higher Level plus satisfactory portfolio

European Baccalaureate:
65% overall with Art or appropriate plus satisfactory portfolio

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