Fine Art with Art History

Key Facts

Code W1V3
  • 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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The study of Fine Art with an equal measure of Art History provides you the rare opportunity to combine the historical, curatorial and the practical study of art. The BA Joint Honours program at Aberystwyth University’s School of Art offers the study of Fine Art and Art History as a professional, practical and intellectual pursuit, one that requires the disciplined acquisition of technical expertise, the formation of a creative intelligence, and an historical, critical, theoretical and contemporary awareness of art.

All our staff members are active in Fine Art or Art Historical research; their experience as exhibiting artists, publishing art historians and practicing curators actively informs the teaching at Aberystwyth. We offer you a training that connects traditional skills with contemporary practice and theory. Tuition in Fine Art is available in painting, printmaking, drawing, photography, book illustration, experimental film, sound, installation and site-specific performance. Entry is available directly from school or via foundation course. Core Art History modules that cover a period from the Renaissance to present day provide a general survey of Art History, while optional specialised modules offer in-depth study of specific subjects. Further vocation-oriented modules are dedicated to the historical study of particular Fine Art mediums, exhibition curation, artefact interpretation, and the management of art. Students additionally benefit from access to the School’s Museum and its internationally renowned collection of artworks.

As versatile and articulate graduates, you will be able to pursue careers as artists or art historians, educators and curators, or continue to postgraduate studies. Our degree scheme is particularly appropriate for students considering work in museums, private galleries and auction houses, in public art organisations, or in art gallery administration.

As an Aberystwyth graduate you will emerge with real world capabilities, enabling you to shape your future and develop the career you deserve.

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


Why study Art History at Aberystwyth?

Apart from being intellectually stimulating and personally rewarding, the study of Fine Art and Art History at Aberystwyth University has many practical benefits. It fosters a hands-on approach to the challenges of everyday life, encourages creative problem solving, improves the ability to adapt in a changing world, and enhances interpersonal liaison skills. These assets, sought after in today’s job market as transferable skills, are actively promoted during your course of study at the School of Art. By combining traditional skills with new technologies, our Fine Art modules aim to give you a competitive edge by broadening and enhancing your portfolio and skills base, while Art History modules promote the sort of critical thinking that has many practical applications today. To be involved in the practice, research, interpretation and display of the visual arts opens you to exciting and rewarding careers.

The School of Art sits within the Institute of Literature, Languages and the Creative Arts (ILLCA). The Institute comprises four other academic departments: Theatre, Film and Television Studies, English and Creative Writing, European Languages, and the Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies. This collaboration of academic partners and arts providers forms a unique centre of excellence in Wales with international importance and impact as shown in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework assessment. It found that 100% of research impact is world-leading and internationally excellent. 

The School of Art is the oldest university art department in Wales. It has a distinguished history that goes back to 1917 when it was one of only a few British universities to be concerned with the Arts and Crafts Movement. Our splendid Edwardian listed building has been adapted to meet the needs of today’s education while retaining many of its original features.

Set in its own grounds, the School of Art is self-contained within a stylish interior that houses spacious and well-lit studios for painting, darkrooms, print workshops, a Mac Suite, as well as lecture theatres and seminar rooms.  The School also accommodates a museum, public galleries, and extensive art collections. Allowing students to move with ease from one area of study to another and to remain in close contact with the staff, the proximity of these working spaces fosters a strong sense of community and cooperation.

The School of Art is more than an academic department.  It is a caring community of staff and students from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities. Our objective is to introduce you to the best scholarship in the arts, to assist you in developing your learning potential, to apply your knowledge, and to become an active, confident, and well-educated member of society.

Aberystwyth is a friendly, cosmopolitan community with considerable cultural resources: five art galleries, four theatres, cinemas and film festivals. It has the largest Arts Centre in Wales, a major venue for theatre, concerts, events and exhibitions by contemporary artists and designers.  Aberystwyth is also home to the National Library of Wales; one of only five copyright libraries in Britain. Its extensive collection of watercolours, drawings, prints and photographs of international significance provides excellent facilities for academic study and research in the visual arts.

Originally a medieval walled-town, Aberystwyth nestles between countryside and sea, an area of mid-Wales renowned as an environmental haven and for its spectacular scenery. The vestiges of the Iron Age and thirteenth-century fortifications, together with an eclectic mixture of Victorian, Gothic, and Classical revival architecture, make up the rich historical flavour of the town. For over two centuries its combination of pastoral and picturesque, romantic and sublime landscape has inspired artists like Richard Wilson, J. M. W. Turner, John Sell Cotman, and John Piper. A visit is recommended. Those who come usually find that it is a great help in making up their minds about coming to study with us!

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

Mindful of the career prospects of its graduates, the School of Art maintains a close relationship with the University Careers Service.  Throughout the three years of the degree scheme, it advises and encourages students in their career options and identifies viable, practical skills to ensure that graduates are well prepared for the job market.

The School of Art offers vocation-oriented, hands-on Art History and Fine Art modules thathave been designed to enhance your employability. At the School, students also benefit from visiting art historians, artists and curators, from guidance in CV writing, preparing for interviews, and from the numerous volunteer employment opportunities that we organise.

Our graduates enter high-profile careers in a variety of subjects both within and outside the arts, craft and design. Recent School of Art graduates have moved on to become secondary school teachers, higher education lecturers, art gallery managers and curators, children’s book illustrators, photographers and graphic designers, art directors in publishing, medical illustrators and employees with the Design Council, Arts Council, Tate Gallery, Royal Academy, Carlton Television, The Observer, Saatchi Gallery, Damien Hirst, BBC, and the Universities of St Andrews, Lancaster, Leeds, Brighton, Kingston and Oxford.

Transferable Skills

In addition to practice-based skills and the acquisition of knowledge and critical facility, studying for a Fine Art and art History degree will equip you with a range of transferable skills that are highly valued by employers. These include the ability to:

- conceive creative solutions for specific problems;

- research, evaluate and organise information;

- clearly communicate ideas and information, both orally and in writing;

- work independently and with others;

- effectively organise your time and deploy your skills;

- be self-motivated and self-disciplined.

Year in Employment scheme (YES)

If you consider a year out between your second and third years to work in a museum, art gallery, art studio or a related activity in the UK or overseas, then the Year in Employment Scheme (YES) offers you a fantastic opportunity to fulfil your ambitions. YES provides a 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. Many students who have participated in the scheme have considerably benefited in their preparations for their future careers.

Teaching & Learning

What will I learn?

As intellectual, practical and professional pursuits, Fine Art and Art History require training, creative intelligence, and a thorough knowledge of history, theory and practice both present and past.

At the School of Art, we are dedicated to the development and innovative application of traditional skills. We specialise in the history and practice of two-dimensional studies, principally Drawing, Painting, Book Illustration, Printmaking, Photography and Interdisciplinary Studio Practice (installation, site-specific performance, video and sound). Drawing is at the heart of the student’s experience and is fundamental to the training.

The first year programme is designed to bridge the gap between school or foundation course and university study. It offers fundamental technical knowledge, practical skills and an introduction to the critical understanding of Fine Art. Core modules in Art History such as Landscape, Nature and Art and Art in Europe: from Rococo to Neo-Classicism 1700-1800 and Representing the Body, and Art in Europe: from Romanticism to Early Modernism 1800-1900 provide a broad overview of Western Art structured around a number of important themes. Optional modules such as Prints and Drawings: An Introduction to Graphic History and Traditional Painting Techniques and Cultures of Collecting and Dark Materials: Race, Magic, Deception and the Photographic Trace allow for early specialism and in-depth study. Extra-curricular classes on Effective Academic Writing about Art are offered with additional tutorial support for those identified with particular needs.

The second year programme is designed to extend the skills and knowledge acquired in the first year by specialisation, in-depth exploration of concepts and techniques, and an intensification of study, by fostering a more creative, personal, investigative, and thought-provoking engagement with the disciplines. Students are expected to take more responsibility for their learning and show greater evidence of a capacity for self-directed study, self- and peer-evaluation, as well as determining their own agendas and projects. Students will be counselled in their choice of modules to create a program of study that best fits their interests and aptitudes.

Second and third year specialisation in one of the Fine Art disciplines listed above is complemented by optional Art History modules that allow students to tailor their degree to suit their needs and interests. These Art History modules include: Art in Europe and America: Modernism 1900-1950; Art/Sound: Practice, Theory, and History 1800-2010; History of Photography; The Gothic Imagination; Syntax and Symbolism in European Printmaking; Pre-Raphaelitism and Its Contexts; Drawn to Order - The Illustrated Book in Britain since 1800; and Italian Art. Some of the more vocation-oriented Art History modules include: Materials and Methods for Art Historians; Professional Practice for Students of Art History; Art Gallery Education; and Staging An Exhibition - Researching, Writing and Displaying.

In the third year of the program students are expected to demonstrate a mature and highly motivated commitment to their study as evidenced by their self-discipline, productivity and rigorous intellectual enquiry. Students will develop a clear and distinct direction as well as sustain a body of qualitative work. The third year demands a high level of independent study, professional standards, proficiency in the appropriate subject knowledge and theory, and ability to posit fine art within a critical and conceptual framework. They will be expected to possess historical and contemporary knowledge pertinent of the field of study as well as evidence virtuosity in different modes of art-historical writing.

How will I be taught?

The School uses a wide range of educational delivery including lectures, seminars, workshops, practicals, tutorials and field trips. Our teaching aims to enable you not only to acquire subject knowledge but also to apply it to your own experience as developing artists and art historians. As well as practice-based work in our studios and workshops, students are trained to develop their ability to research, analyse, and evaluate information and to clearly articulate ideas both in writing and orally. Students pursue core and optional Art History modules covering a period from the Renaissance to the present day.

We offer you access to excellent learning support and facilities to enable you to achieve your potential. You will also be assigned a personal tutor to whom you may turn for guidance and help, academic-related or pastoral. Assessment is by course work – portfolio submission, exhibition, essays, projects, presentations, examinations, etc. – and takes place periodically throughout the academic year. The process of assessment is designed to keep you fully informed of your progress throughout the three years of the degree scheme. It is backed by an advisory feedback provision that ensures you choose a study scheme and pathway through the degree scheme that is appropriate to your aptitude and development.

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 public galleries and a collection of some 20,000 artworks. Each year the School of Art offers museum and gallery study visits within the UK and cultural tours abroad. Recent destinations have included Madrid, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, New York, Vienna, Barcelona, Venice, Moscow, St Petersburg, Florence, Lisbon and Budapest.

The School of Art staff is committed to the implementation of both traditional and innovative methods of teaching. Through their work, the School fosters research links with other institutions and countries as well as contributes to many distinguished arts and cultural organisations. In this way, you are prepared to become artists informed by a thorough grounding in Art History, or historians and scholars enlightened by working in a Fine Art environment.  Through its active involvement with the history, curation and practice of art, the School seeks to provide a rich environment for the student.

Student Views

What do our applicants think of us?

Here are some of the anonymous comments of applicants who came to the School of Art during a 2014 Visiting Day:

"The tour was very interesting and the building beautiful. For me, after finding out about the course and looking around the building there was no choice in the matter where I would wish to study."

"Very well organised and structured, the best we’ve been to."

"Extremely impressed by the building, facilities and teaching philosophy."

"There is a lovely atmosphere within the department."

"I thoroughly enjoyed my day at Aberystwyth and look forward to coming back to see more and hopefully study with you."

"You are by far the best university I have visited."

"I hadn’t been to Aberystwyth before but found it a really beautiful town. The lecture before the interview was informative. Talking to current students was very useful and they were helpful and open."

"Enjoyed the visit. Very welcoming people. Liked the department emphasis on History of Art and emphasis on fundamental skills"

"Despite my very short time there I feel I have a clear idea of the art course and the University."

"It was very useful to have the talk prior to interview and helped me to understand what possibilities I have after university. The interview itself was an enjoyable experience and discussing my work and gaining the opinions of the interviewers was not only motivating – it’s left me really looking forward to coming to University."

"The staff were very welcoming, friendly and highly informative. They couldn’t have done more to help which backed up my already firm intention of coming to Aberystwyth."

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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