Art History

You are viewing this course for September start 2024

In studying the BA in Art History at the School of Art in Aberystwyth University, you will not only be studying the history of art, but will become actively engaged in it. The School is housed in a magnificent listed building where history meets practice. Here, art is made, curated and exhibited. The study of art history has many practical applications. It promotes critical thinking and provides a sound foundation for careers in education and publishing, in journalism and advertising, as well as in curating and art administration.

This degree will equip you with essential research and writing skills. This ensures that you not only learn how to read art history but that you know what it means to be an art historian.

Course Overview

Why study Art History at Aberystwyth?

So, what gives us the edge?

  • Studying at the School of Art, you will have access to an internationally renowned collection of art and artefacts. Our collection consists of some 20,000 prints, photographs, drawings, paintings and ceramics. We actively draw on those original works of art to build a practical knowledge of art history.
  • The School of Art is a government-accredited art museum that runs its own galleries. There are only two such schools in the UK. This means a hands-on study of art in a museum environment. It gives you the opportunity to engage creatively with art history by curating works from our collection as part of your degree scheme. For examples of a student-curated exhibition, visit our Museum and Galleries blog.
  • As a student here, you will be joining one of highest-ranking art departments in the UK. The School of Art is the only university in Wales that awards an Art History degree.
  • Our staff are actively engaged in research, and their findings inform our teaching in the School of Art. Our team of experts include well-known art historians, practicing curators and exhibiting artists.
  • During your time in the School of Art, you will have the opportunity to work with and study our internationally renowned collection of prints, photographs, paintings and ceramics.
  • All students in our school have access to our teaching facilities which include a MAC suite, studios and learning spaces.
  • The highlight for all students in our department is curating an exhibition in our galleries as part of their degree scheme.
  • On our doorstep is the National Library of Wales. One of only five copyright libraries in the United Kingdom, the National Library in Aberystwyth holds over six million books, maps, prints and manuscripts, and has an outstanding collection of paintings and works on paper.
Our Staff

Our teaching staff are practicing professionals. As exhibiting artists, publishing researchers and curators, they provide an informed and stimulating learning environment. This ensures that the skills you learn at the School of Art are practice orientated, relevant and applicable.

For further information, visit our individual staff profiles.

Modules September start - 2024

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.


Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Dissertation AH32020 20


Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Art in Wales AH33720 20
Curating an Exhibition: Researching, Interpreting and Displaying AH32720 20
Drawn to Order: British Illustration since 1800 AH33620 20
Gothic Imagination AH33420 20
Thinking Photography AH30820 20
Rethinking Impressionism AH30720 20

* Also available partially or entirely through the medium of Welsh


Career opportunities

Research shows that the vast majority of our graduates build careers in their chosen field. Our graduates establish themselves as professional art historians, curators and administrators. Employers include:

  • Arts Council 
  • BBC
  • Design Council
  • The Observer newspaper
  • Royal Academy of Arts
  • Royal Collections Trust
  • Saatchi Gallery
  • Tate Gallery
  • Victoria and Albert Museum.

Our graduates are:

  • university educators
  • secondary school teachers
  • art gallery managers
  • museum or exhibition curators
  • journalists
  • art directors in publishing
  • conservators of easel painting, ceramics and works on paper.

Each year a significant number of our graduates enrol on Master of Arts degree schemes at Aberystwyth University and elsewhere to enhance their career opportunities further. 

Transferable Skills 

The study of Art is not only intellectually stimulating and personally rewarding, it also has many practical benefits. It promotes creative problem solving, develops interpersonal skills and improves the ability to succeed in a changing world. These transferable skills are highly sought after in today’s job market, which is why they are actively promoted by us during your studies at the School of Art. They include the ability to:

  • research facts and interpret information
  • effectively communicate ideas, both orally and in writing
  • connect theory to practice and develop interdisciplinary thinking
  • work independently or as part of a creative team
  • stay focussed, motivated and goal-oriented.

Work Experience 

There are many opportunities to gain professional experience during your studies. For specific information, visit our Careers Service.

You can further enhance your employability prospects with GO Wales and YES (Year in Employment Scheme). Both are managed by our Careers Service team.

Teaching & Learning

What will I learn? 

This overview provides you with an illustration of what you may study during our three-year degree scheme. The scheme enables you to develop historical knowledge, critical thinking and practical skills in writing and researching under the guidance of publishing art historians and practising artists and curators.

Staff research actively informs our teaching and provides a stimulating and practice-based learning environment. In a recent UK-wide assessment, our art history staff research impact was deemed to be 100% ‘world leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’.

 In your first year you will: 

  • gain a broad foundation in Western art organised by themes, genres, movements and styles from the Renaissance to the twentieth century (for example, representations of the human figure and ways of looking into landscape)
  • learn the fundamentals of researching and interpreting works of art and visual culture
  • examine the School of Art Museum collections and engage with works of art at first hand
  • choose from optional modules to deepen your understanding of specific subjects.

 In your second year you will: 

  • investigate the history of twentieth century Western art, the shift from Modernism to Postmodernism, as well as contemporary visual culture
  • explore critical and theoretical approaches to art history and practice
  • continue to build your own curriculum from our portfolio of optional art history modules on subjects such as photography, printmaking, book illustration and abstraction
  • receive individual and subject-specific guidance in professional practice (writing and research) as you develop your dissertation project under staff supervision.

In your third year you will:

  • choose from a range of interdisciplinary subjects such as adaptation, the Gothic, and the relationship of art and sound
  • have the opportunity to draw on your first-hand knowledge of our art collection by curating an exhibition with a team of your peers
  • gain insights into how art is made through workshops and practicals exploring techniques, tools and materials
  • conduct original research as you work towards your dissertation under staff supervision.

How will I be taught? 

Our programme is delivered through lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials and field trips. You will receive individual tutorials to guide and support you throughout your academic career. 

Assessment is generally by coursework (essays, dissertation project and, to a lesser extent, exams). As a practice-oriented programme, we also use a range of practical assessments, including seminar presentations and project work. Learning outcomes are clearly communicated in the outline for each module, so you always know what kind of work is involved.

Student Testimonials

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

I'm currently in my second year studying for a BA in Art History. I'm glad I chose to study the subject, as it has been highly interesting and has opened my eyes to the vast history of Art, as well as challenging me to consider its growing importance in today's world. I did not previously have a vast knowledge of Art History, but the course has given me a thorough overview of many of the major aspects of the subject. It has also provided me with useful skills in observation, communication and experience with artist's materials.

Rebecca Jones

Typical Entry Requirements

UCAS Tariff 120 - 96

A Levels BBB-CCC

GCSE requirements (minimum grade C/4):
English or Welsh

BTEC National Diploma:

International Baccalaureate:

European Baccalaureate:
75%-65% overall

English Language Requirements:
See our Undergraduate English Language Requirements for this course. Pre-sessional English Programmes are also available for students who do not meet our English Language Requirements.

Country Specific Entry Requirements:
International students whose qualification is not listed on this page, can check our Country Specific Entry Requirements for further information.

The University welcomes undergraduate applications from students studying the Access to Higher Education Diploma or T-level qualifications, provided that relevant subject content and learning outcomes are met. We are not able to accept Access to Higher Education Diplomas or T-levels as a general qualification for every undergraduate degree course.
Our inclusive admissions policy values breadth as well as depth of study. Applicants are selected on their own individual merits and offers can vary. If you would like to check the eligibility of your qualifications before submitting an application, please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for advice and guidance.

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