Art History

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Academic Year of Entry: 2023/24
Course overview
(BA) Bachelor of Arts
Art History
University of Essex
University of Essex
Art History and Theory
Colchester Campus
Honours Degree
History of Art, Architecture and Design
BA V314


Professional accreditation


Admission criteria

A-levels: ABB


IB: 32 points or three Higher Level certificates with 655.
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programme Courses (formerly certificates) at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for.
We can also consider combinations with BTECs or other qualifications in the Career-related programme – the acceptability of BTECs and other qualifications depends on the subject studied, advice on acceptability can be provided. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Access to HE Diploma: 15 level 3 credits at Distinction and 30 level 3 credits at Merit

T-levels: Distinction

What if I don’t achieve the grades I hoped? If your final grades are not as high as you had hoped, the good news is you may still be able to secure a place with us on a course which includes a foundation year. Visit our undergraduate application information page for more details.

What if I have a non-traditional academic background?
Don’t worry. To gain a deeper knowledge of your course suitability, we will look at your educational and employment history, together with your personal statement and reference.

You may be considered for entry into Year 1 of your chosen course. Alternatively, some UK and EU applicants may be considered for Essex Pathways, an additional year of study (known as a foundation year/year 0) helping students gain the necessary skills and knowledge in order to succeed on their chosen course. You can find a list of Essex Pathways courses and entry requirements here

If you are a mature student, further information is here

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) code

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a visa to study in the UK.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College here.

Course qualifiers


Rules of assessment

Rules of assessment are the rules, principles and frameworks which the University uses to calculate your course progression and final results.

Additional notes

Final Year: Students may only take one final-year project/dissertation option from the following list: AR382-6-FY or AR383-6-SP. Students may, if they wish and have the module supervisors permission, take 30 credits at level 6 in year 2. They may also take 30 credits at level 5 in year 3. It is recommended that students take 120 credits at level 6 as at least 90 credits at this level must be passed to be awarded a degree. See section D: Rules of Assessment

External examiners

Staff photo
Dr Dominic Paterson

Senior Lecturer in History of Art / Curator of Contemporary Art

University of Glasgow

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 23 October 2023 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory You must take this module.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Optional You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.

Year 1 - 2023/24

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01  AR122-4-AU-CO  Writing and Researching Art History  Compulsory  15  15 
02  AR119-4-SP-CO  Art and Ideas: I  Compulsory  15  15 
03  AR116-4-AU-CO  Ways of Seeing  Compulsory  15  15 
04    Art History option(s) from list  Optional  45  45 
05    Art History option(s) from list or outside option(s)  Optional  30  30 

Year 2 - 2024/25

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01  AR220-5-AU-CO  Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art  Compulsory  15  15 
02    Art History option  Compulsory with Options  15  15 
03    Art History option(s)  Optional  30  30 
04    Art History option(s) or outside option(s)  Optional  30  30 
05    Art History option  Optional  15  15 
06    CS200-5-AU or (CS712-5-FY and option from list)  Optional  15  15 

Year 3 - 2025/26

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01    Art History option(s)  Optional  30  30 
02    Art History option(s)  Optional  30  30 
03  AR383-6-SP-CO  Final Year Dissertation Project  Compulsory  15  15 
04    Art History option(s)  Optional  30  30 
05  AR323-6-AU-CO  Art and Ideas III  Compulsory  15  15 

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

  • To offer a varied, flexible and distinctive curriculum across the field of art history.
  • To provide the opportunity for an in-depth understanding of the art, architecture and/or visual culture of one or more periods and places, as well as its/their attendant theoretical texts.
  • To introduce students to a variety of interpretative methods and forms of questioning appropriate to visual artefacts: including historical inquiry, theory of representation, aesthetic approaches to the value and function of visual art, and critical approaches to the conditions of the production, consumption, interpretation or reinterpretation of visual artefacts.
  • To encourage both critical engagement with and enjoyment of the visual arts.
  • To provide the knowledge and skills (critical inquiry and argument, imaginative understanding, written, spoken and visual interpretation, communication and presentation) that will not only stand students in good stead for more specialised academic careers, but will also enhance their opportunities for employment in a wide range of other careers.

  • Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

    On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

    A: Knowledge and understanding

    A1: A range of visual art from the Early Renaissance to the present day, including theoretical issues that have been central to the Western European and Latin American traditions in visual art.

    A2: The relationships of works of visual art to the broader cultural context.

    A3: (In greater depth) the art, architecture and/or visual culture of one or more periods and places, as well as its/their attendant theoretical texts.

    A4: Some substantive areas of current research in the field of study including an awareness of the development of these areas of research

    A5: Some of the concepts, values and debates that inform study and practice in the field.

    A6: The basic methods of critical analysis and argument appropriate to visual artefacts.

    Learning methods

    A1-A6 are acquired through lectures, classes and coursework (with regular feedback, both oral and written, from tutors).

    Art history lectures and seminars demonstrate skills of visual analysis and theoretical understanding in the context of a particular historical/geographical framework. Knowledge and understanding are developed further through seminar discussions and presentations with oral feedback from tutors.

    Throughout, students are expected to extend and enhance the knowledge and understanding they acquire from classes and lectures by regularly consulting library materials related to the course. This independent research is then consolidated in essay work and through feedback in written form.

    Assessment methods

    Assessment of students' knowledge and understanding takes place through a variety of assessment instruments including coursework essays, individual presentations, virtual exhibitions, and unseen written examinations, including questions on visual material in photographic form.

    B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

    B1: Analyse a given body of material, breaking it down into component points or parts and highlighting the most significant among them.

    B2: Synthesise evidence, arguments or ideas from different sources productively in a self-directed manner

    B3: Reason critically and offer judgements based on argument

    B4: Respond to unfamiliar artefacts, issues or ideas with an open mind

    B5: Solve problems using knowledge and experience.

    Learning methods

    Intellectual and cognitive skills are initiated through lectures and classes, where students are expected to develop skills, and further developed in seminars, as well as one-to-one tutorials where appropriate. The seminar-based work encourages critical discussion arising from the analysis and interpretation of texts or visual artefacts with an emphasis on being able to reason cogently, argue coherently and present one's own viewpoint persuasively.

    The theoretical work done in Art and Ideas from Level 4 to Level 6 particularly emphasises skills B1-B5 through the guidance given in seminar discussion and through feedback on essays. The seminars are intended to foster cognitive skills. Students translate the skills acquired there collectively into individually assessed essays. In turn, the essays prepare students for examinations, in the modules in which they are held. Exams test students’ ability both to demonstrate and to sustain the same skills in controlled conditions.

    Assessment methods

    Assessment of B1-B3 is by written essays, take-home research papers, in-class slide tests, summaries of weekly readings, and unseen written examinations, including questions on visual material in photographic form.

    C: Practical skills

    C1: Visual Skills; including observation (recognition of materials and techniques but also other aspects of works of visual art such as formal organisation or narrative structure), description (using ordinary as well as specialised language) and analysis

    C2: Research Skills: including use of appropriate methods to locate primary and secondary sources, and works of visual art.

    C3: Critical Skills: including selection of relevant material, and appraisal of other people's arguments on the basis of familiarity with source materials and current literature

    C4: Writing Skills: including use of proper academic conventions, creating logical and structured narratives, and effective use of language to convey particular and general responses of readers or viewers to works of visual art, and to articulate complex conceptual issues and create frameworks for understanding them

    Learning methods

    Skills C1 and C3 are introduced in lectures and developed through classes and through seminars. Guidance on skills C1, C2, C3 and C4 is given in teaching, in supervision of essays, and to a limited extent in School Handbooks. The strategy ensures that, having acquired a basic command of the range of skills, students exercise these skills in the more specialised courses.

    A member of staff gives students choosing an Art History capstone module formal guidance on the development, research and writing of specialist studies in the form of written instruction and in presentations.

    Assessment methods

    Assessment of students' knowledge and understanding takes place through a variety of assessment instruments including coursework essays, presentations, virtual exhibitions, and unseen written examinations, including questions on visual material in photographic form. Students are expected to analyse texts in the light of the contextual, conceptual and comparative frameworks offered to them during the scheme, whilst also formulating their own arguments and displaying critical competence.

    Provision is made for students to be assessed on a dissertation (capstone project) in art history in the third year in lieu of a taught module. Essay questions are designed to test all skills. In-class slide tests and unseen written examination questions, including questions on visual material in photographic form, test skills C1, C3 and C4.

    D: Key skills

    D1: The ability to communicate information, arguments and ideas cogently and effectively in a range of different contexts using a range of different aids or resources; special ability to deploy visual material in a variety of media in the context of presentations or written work

    D2: Students should be able to make use of IT for research purposes (including searchable databases such as library catalogues and internet sources), to present assessed work, and be able to use email.

    D3: Management of projects and timetables. Students should be able to apply knowledge and understanding in order to make judgements and offer solutions in a range of contexts.

    D4: Ability to 'read' an argument in seminar discussion; ability to respond effectively; ability to work in a variety of group contexts.

    D5: Students should have the ability to work to briefs and deadline, to take responsibility for their own work, and to reflect on their own learning and performance and make constructive use of feedback

    Learning methods

    The University's Key Skills On-Line website (including self-assessment tools) will be listed in Department Handbooks.

    The four key skills are implicit throughout the degree.

    Communication is developed through seminar discussion, but also through attending lectures.

    Visual media skills are developed through personal instruction to students using slide projectors or DVDs/VCRs in class, and through drawing attention to the media whereby visual images are presented to us, both in terms of informing students but also developing a critical appreciation of the relationship between image and context in any medium.

    Students are expected to acquire IT skills based on some initial guidance.

    Students will be given the opportunity to work constructively and productively in groups, and be able to participate effectively in seminars.

    Students are expected and encouraged to share responsibility for their own programme of studies.

    Assessment methods

    Essays and dissertations are assessed for qualities that incorporate skills D1, D2, D3 and D5.


    The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

    The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.


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