Fine Art and History of Art

BA (Hons)

Start dates: September 2024

Full time: 3 years

Part time: 6 years

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of Arts, School of Education, Humanities and Languages

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There is a strong harmony between the disciplines of Fine Art and History of Art, with the former exploring the theory and making of art and the latter the historical analysis of art.  A combination of the two subjects can lead to an especially well-rounded understanding of art.  Experience in making art deepens the understanding of past practices studied by art historians, while knowledge about the development of art in the past broadens the frame of reference informing the work of practising artists. The two subjects offer a particularly strong grounding for those interested in careers in museums and galleries, from curating to art education, or for students interested in teaching art and/or art history in schools, but also open many other career possibilities. 

Combining the two disciplines makes it possible to explore artefacts and the making of art from a wide range of perspectives. The programme's modules fall broadly into three types: practical, historical, and employment-oriented.

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Students in the Ashmolean Museum

Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Don’t just study, indulge

    We want you to enjoy art first-hand, so we provide plenty of opportunities throughout the course.

  • Explore your interests

    As well as the wide range of topics covered in taught modules, you can explore your interests in independent study and dissertation modules.

  • Packed with career skills

    You’ll develop your artistic practice, and your logical and critical thinking skills and learn advanced research techniques.

  • Study in Oxford

    The city has renowned museums, galleries, and auction houses to not only visit but volunteer or work in to gain experience in the sector.

  • Brookes Creative

    This scheme helps to support and grow our professional network with the Creative Industries for the benefit of students, staff, and our external partners.

  • Free language courses

    Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

  • Study abroad

    You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Brookes. Most exchanges take place in the second year. Although we will help as much as we can with your plans, ultimately you are responsible for organising and funding this study abroad.

Course details

Course structure

Modules fall into three categories:

  • Practical, designed to develop students’ skills, ideas, and identities as artistic practitioners.
  • Historical, designed to develop students’ historical understanding of the visual arts and their contexts.
  • Employment-focused, designed to prepare students for the world of work, both in theory and through direct experience of workplace situations and contact with professionals in the arts.

Practical modules focus on creativity, experimentation, and intellectual pursuit. With a symbiotic relationship between art-making and theoretical frameworks, you develop a rigorous, experimental creative practice that is underpinned by a deep understanding of the concepts, theories and ethics that are important in today’s world.

The historical modules cover the period from the Renaissance to the twentieth century and focus on developing a historical understanding of artworks and their contexts. Oxford is an excellent place to study the history of art, with outstanding local museums and galleries. London with its wealth of museums is just a short journey away.

Student working at a table

Learning and teaching

  • Lectures underpin your historical and theoretical understanding, and discussions within lectures allow you to process and interrogate your learning.
  • Seminars allow you to discuss examples, texts and ideas and raise questions about material covered in lectures.
  • Workshops, which introduce you to methods and techniques in creative art practices.
  • Group tutorials, which focus on your research issues, concerns, methods, and progress within a group setting.
  • Individual tutorials, where you are encouraged to reflect upon and utilise their developing academic, research and personal literacy skills, to transfer prior learning into new contexts.
  • Self-evaluation teaches you how to develop critical self-awareness through processes of self-evaluation and you are required to write a ‘self-evaluation report’ for each practice module.Summative tutorials require you to present either resolved or in-progress experimental work and provide feedback on each other’s practice.


Assessment is conducted through a wide range of methods, in order both to foster a range of transferable skills and to ensure that you have some capability to choose those that suit you best. Assessment types include:

  • Practical work is assessed in the light of the accompanying written self-evaluation and workbook/portfolio. End of Year Exhibitions held at the end of Semester 2 give all year groups the opportunity to present their practical work to a wider audience.
  • Portfolios may take several forms: a workbook, a clearly labelled dossier with key and introductory text; a USB with ‘PowerPoint’ files, a website, or photographs.
  • A range of written assignments, from essays to exhibition reviews, from creative writing to reflective diaries, all of which develop written communication skills.
  • Spoken presentations, which build confidence and develop presentation and oral communication skills.
  • Exhibition curation is foregrounded in the compulsory Curatorial Practice module.


Field Trips

Field trips are given prominence within the programme. They feature in many modules and typically visit local or regional sites of artistic importance, whether galleries, buildings, events, or festivals. The Field Work in Art History module takes the form of an extended visit to an important European artistic centre, usually Paris. Field trips enable students to experience artefacts first-hand and gain a greater understanding of their institutional, historical, and professional contexts. They also enable you to relate your practice to current and emerging practices, technologies and global trends.

Study modules

The historical modules on the course take full advantage of this abundance of local resources.  One module, Art in Oxford, focuses entirely on artworks in the Ashmolean Museum and other Oxford collections. Particular stress is placed on the study of artefacts first-hand, with most modules including guided visits to sites in Oxford or London. The importance placed on the first-hand study of works of art is epitomised by the Field Work in Art History module, currently taught through an intensive series of guided visits to sites in Paris.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Global Art in Oxford

    In this module, you’ll gain the core skills you need to succeed in your Art History degree. You’ll develop visual analysis skills, as you look at special art collections in Oxford and the Oxford area. You’ll consider:

    • the training and status of artists in society
    • the conditions they worked in
    • The uses of art
    • The market for art
    • The materials and techniques used in art.

    You’ll also investigate how people received art in different times and places. You’ll consider both western and non-western art. You’ll analyse artworks first-hand, giving you an expert understanding of them; developing your skills at working in the field. You’ll also develop strong research skills, increasing your chances of success in your degree, as you learn how to find and apply relevant resources.

  • Museums and Society

    How and why do we present works of art to the public? In this module, you’ll explore the role of museums, art galleries and exhibitions in shaping how people produced, displayed and received works of art from the mid eighteenth century to today. You’ll understand how museums and galleries create contact between artworks and the public who view them. You’ll consider how these spaces are affected by historical factors. And you’ll come to see them as much more than neutral containers for artworks.

  • Practice 1: Experimental Projects (combined)

    Welcome to the world of experimental art practice! In this module, we're going to dive into the basics and open the door to creative exploration using a wide array of materials and processes. The key here is to let your creativity flow without overthinking or trying to control the final result. It's all about spontaneity, intuition, and capturing the moment of creation.

    Your aim is to break free from your past creative experiences and embrace a wider artistic realm without any preconceptions. We'll focus on the journey, emphasising the process, improvisation, ephemerality, and taking risks rather than getting fixated on outcomes, meticulous planning, permanence, or presentation.

    Don't forget, documentation is crucial in recording your experiments, so be ready to capture your artistic journey along the way. Get ready for a creative adventure!

  • Real Art World 1: Introduction to Creative Careers

    This is your first step in an exciting journey within this degree course. RAW is just one of a few professional modules that will accompany you throughout your degree.

    We’ll help connect you to the creative industry in a way that mirrors real-world practices for artists and professionals like you. We believe in empowering you to choose and participate in your creative projects, aligning them with your unique career aspirations. 

    As you embark on this journey, we'll encourage you to reflect on your career path, helping you shape it as you go. You'll also have the opportunity to attend a range of professional workshops that equip you with essential skills for your creative future. It's all about bridging the gap between your artistic aims and the real art world.

Optional modules

Art and the Environment

You'll gain understanding of the intersections and interactions between art and the environment. You will investigate examples from across the centuries and around the globe. 

You will become adept and familiar with approaches to representing the environment. The use of the natural world as material for artistic expression. And the role of art and architecture in improving and promoting environmental care. You will develop a critical appreciation of the art as an aspect of politico-social change.

Modern British Art

In this module, you’ll dive into art and artists through the century. You’ll explore the Camden Town Group of painters. You’ll examine the abstract sculptures of Barbara Hepworth. And you’ll analyse the collages of Pop artists like Peter Blake. You’ll scrutinise paintings, sculptures and films. You’ll discuss how British artists tried to create modern forms of expression. And you’ll  investigate the ways they promoted their work, like:

  • exhibitions
  • manifestos
  • books
  • little magazines.

You’ll participate in on-site visits, where you’ll examine works of art firsthand. You’ll also attend exciting lectures and seminars where you’ll explore your ideas and enrich your understanding of modern British art.

Practice 2: The Gallery and Beyond

You’ll explore artistic practices that go beyond the traditional white cube gallery spaces. You'll discover how to take your ideas to the next level by considering the site, context, and audience as integral parts of your work.

This module will empower you to see your artwork in a new light – as a dynamic element that interacts with its surroundings. You'll learn how your work can engage in a meaningful dialogue with its location, rather than standing independently. We'll also dive into the concept of different audiences and how altering the context of your work can reach diverse groups. 

The goal is to transform your audience from passive observers to active participants in your creative journey. Get ready to think outside the gallery space and let your art come to life in new and exciting ways.

Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Themes in Modern Art

    How did the First World War transform European culture? How did artists, architects and designers embrace new technologies, materials and new ways of thinking? And how did changing views on gender and sexuality influence art and architecture? In this module you’ll examine how emerging modernist culture was expressed. You’ll look at forms like paintings, buildings, magazines, film and exhibitions. And you’ll study artists like Charlotte Perriand, Varvara Setpanova, Wells Coates and Marcel Breuer.

  • Practice 3: Extending Practice (Combined)

    Welcome to the Studio Practice module, where we're all about nurturing your expertise in contemporary art. Our goal is to help you find your unique path in this ever-evolving field, allowing your practice to flourish.

    To achieve this, we're going to boost your ability and confidence, equipping you with the right research methods and technical know-how. You won't be alone on this journey – you'll become part of a seminar group that focuses on various areas within contemporary art.

    These seminars, workshops, and group tutorials are where expertise is gained. They'll provide you with the knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience you need to grow in your chosen field. Through engaging discussions and experimentation, we'll encourage you to build upon what you explored so far, ultimately establishing your own independent practice. This is your chance to find your place in the vibrant world of contemporary art, both in theory and in practice.

Optional modules

Field Work in Art History

In this module, you’ll be spending a week in Paris, one of the world’s most famous cities for art. You’ll gain core analytical skills and fresh insights for your History of Art degree. You’ll explore the city’s rich range of architecture, and its renowned galleries, museums and temporary exhibitions. You’ll benefit from the input of expert staff on guided visits, while having the freedom to explore sites and galleries independently, absorbing the city’s extraordinary paintings, sculptures and buildings. 

This field work trip ordinarily runs in Paris. It is possible that circumstances may arise in any given year that could change the destination of the field work trip.

Independent Study Module

Study under the supervision of academic staff, on a topic chosen by you.

Placement in the Creative and Cultural Industries

You'll have the chance to dive into the Arts and Creative industries by securing a professional or industrial Placement. You’ll bridge the gap between academic knowledge and real-world experience. You'll get the chance to immerse yourself in the professional world and, more importantly, reflect deeply on your journey.

This module is all about connecting theory with practical professional practices. You'll gain a deep understanding of what it's like to work within a professional framework. This includes tackling key issues related to organising public exhibitions or collaborating with professional artists.

The best part? You have a wide range of options for your Placement, from galleries and theatres to community-based organisations. You can even work alongside seasoned professionals in the arts, such as practising artists or curators.

Practice 4: Consolidating Practice

Welcome to a module that's all about taking your contemporary art practice to the next level. We're here to help you consolidate your intellectual knowledge and practical experience in your chosen field.

Now, it's time to expand and enhance the conceptual strategies you began exploring in Practice 3. The goal is to create a well-rounded body of contemporary artwork that truly reflects your vision. As you progress through this module, you'll gain a deeper understanding of the latest developments in your field and learn essential research methodologies. These skills will empower you to produce artworks that align with your unique interests.

At the end of the module, you'll have the chance to showcase your completed work in a public exhibition. This experience is invaluable and teaches you the art of successful installation. By the time you finish this semester, you'll have a growing sense of your independent art practice and how it fits into the broader critical framework.

Themes in Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century European Art

In this module you’ll examine European Art during a period of transformative change. You’ll consider the sweeping political and social movements of the time - and their impact on art. You’ll explore the British Empire, the French Revolution and the drive for European political reform. You’ll learn about the rise of artistic exhibitions and the beginnings of the print trade. You’ll consider the emergence of a ‘public’ for art and the birth of art criticism. And you’ll examine a range of genres, from portraiture and tomb sculpture to comic art.

Real Art World 2: Expanded Creative Projects

This is your second step in our progressive series of professional modules. Here, we bridge the gap between academia and industry in a way that mirrors real-life practices for artists and creative professionals.

This module empowers you to take the reins of your creative journey. You'll choose and participate in projects that align with your unique career aspirations. This module will take your skills to the next level. You'll attend advanced professional workshops designed to equip you with valuable skills for your creative career.

You’ll be encouraged to step into the spotlight with greater independence in your creative projects. It's time to gain a deeper understanding of your own career aspirations and how to turn them into reality.

Themes in European Art 1450-1700

How do we see the body in Michaelangelo's iconic marbles, or Titian’s bright canvases? In this module you’ll examine how Renaissance Europeans viewed the world - and the people in it. You’ll explore ideas about travel, science, the Church and colonialism that emerged during this extraordinary period. You’ll consider how Europeans saw themselves, and others, via their art. You’ll consider how art may have created or enforced social stereotypes. And you’ll be immersed in the charged debates of the time - on issues like race, sexuality and gender.

Year 3 (optional placement year)

Optional modules

Career Development Year

This development year will boost your professional profile and confidence. It’s all about hands-on learning, and we're here to help you connect with external organisations through work placements, internships, and industry experiences.

Our goal is to empower you to take charge of your learning journey. You'll identify opportunities that align with your career aspirations, allowing you to place your practice in a professional context. It's all about building your skills and confidence in the real world. So take this opportunity to develop your professional skills.

Year 4 (or Year 3 if no placement)

Compulsory modules

  • Curatorial Practice

    Do you dream of curating your own exhibition? Do you want to explore career options you didn’t know existed? In this module, you’ll gain direct and expert experience in curating displays and exhibitions of historic and contemporary art. You’ll learn the core issues in curating exhibitions, and explore themes such as: 

    • theories of curating
    • curating contemporary art
    • curating historic exhibitions.

    You’ll also look at the practical side of curation, including: 

    • proposals
    • loans
    • funding
    • displays
    • lighting
    • layout
    • catalogues
    • interpretation.

Optional modules

Advanced Independent Study in History of Art

This module gives you the opportunity to conduct an advanced level exploration of a subject not directly covered by the History of Art syllabus. In doing so, you’ll develop skills in independent research and analysis. 

You might choose to explore a response to a current exhibition, or investigate an issue in the field of art history or criticism. Alternatively, you might select a specialist topic related to another module, or connected to ongoing staff research. The topic will be a substantial one and you will design and carry out your study under the guidance and supervision of one or more members of the History of Art staff.

Advanced Seminar 1: Continuity and Change in Venetian Painting

What does Bellini’s intensive, meditative art have in common with Titian’s dramatic, emotive paintings? How are they part of the same tradition of Renaissance Venetian painting? In this module, you’ll explore Venice’s unique history and culture. You’ll consider Venetian material culture - from the perspective of residents and visitors. You’ll scrutinise ‘Venetian-ness.’ And you’ll examine how Venetian painters pushed boundaries in a traditional culture.

This module is subject to availability in any given year.

Advanced Seminar 1: The Art of Death

How is art involved in death? What is art’s role in rites of passage like mourning, burial and commemoration? In this module, you’ll explore the changing practices, beliefs and attitudes toward death - across cultures and centuries. You’ll investigate the Roman way of death. You’ll examine death in the Middle Ages, including the sumptuous Medieval chantry chapels. And you’ll learn how the Reformation drove sweeping changes in attitudes toward death across Europe. You’ll also consider specialist topics like commemoration, and the art of anatomy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

This module is subject to availability in any given year.

History of Art Dissertation / Project

In this module, you’ll have the chance to do independent research on a topic that fascinates you. You’ll have the support of our expert academics who guide you as you carry out research on your chosen topic. You’ll gain key skills for your chosen career, as you gain expertise in your topic and express the knowledge you’ve gained throughout your degree. 

Practice 5: Research and Development

In this module, you'll be given the space to explore your own interests and concerns, with the goal of establishing and defining your subject matter or field of inquiry.​

During this module, you'll conduct theoretical and contextual research to better understand how your practice fits into contemporary issues within your field. The research itself can take various forms, tailored to your individual practice. We'll blend traditional academic research methods with hands-on experiments to create independent practical work.

This module is a significant step in your development as an artist. It requires intense creative engagement and reflection, ultimately helping you build a coherent and confident working process.

Importantly, this module forms the conceptual foundation for your degree show work in the next semester. By the end of it, you'll be well-prepared to propose the work you'll develop in Semester 2.

Practice 6: Major Project (combined)

You’ll have hands-on experience, where you'll face the real-world challenges of exhibiting your work to the public. It's the moment to bridge the gap between the ideas you've been cultivating, the form your work takes, and the details of how it all comes together.

Your mission is to create a fully developed body of contemporary art for the public exhibition at the Fine Art Degree Show. Your work will build upon the research and experimentation you delved into during Practice 5: Research and Development. This is your chance to take those ideas to the next level and transform them into compelling and ambitious pieces that meet professional standards.

Whether you've taken Practice 5 or not, this module offers an opportunity to build upon your prior learning and unleash your creative potential. It's the grand stage where your artistic journey reaches a peak, and we're here to support you every step of the way.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.


Regular career events give students the chance to meet with recent graduates and hear about their experiences, and a LinkedIn page allows them to follow and contact graduates.

If students opt to take the programme in the four-year sandwich mode, they will be able to spend a year during the degree either working in a placement or series of placements or studying at a university abroad, two options that offer great opportunities for developing employability skills and, in the former case, networking and building contacts.​

This course is appropriate for careers in a range of cultural roles such as artist, curator, journalist, arts manager, gallery assistant, and teacher, as well as being appropriate for postgraduate study.

Entry requirements

Wherever possible we make our conditional offers using the UCAS Tariff. The combination of A-level grades listed here would be just one way of achieving the UCAS Tariff points for this course.

Standard offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 104 - 112

A Level: BBC - BCC

IB Points: 29 - 30


Contextual offer

UCAS Tariff Points:

A Level:

IB Points:


Further offer details

Applications are also welcomed for consideration from applicants with European qualifications, international qualifications or recognised foundation courses. For advice on eligibility, please contact Admissions:

If you don’t achieve the required tariff points, you can apply to join a foundation course, like Foundation in Art and Design or an international foundation course to help to reach the required level for entry onto this degree.

International qualifications and equivalences

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Home (UK) sandwich (placement)

International full time

International sandwich (placement)

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Home (UK) sandwich (placement)

International full time

International sandwich (placement)

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

Please note, tuition fees for Home students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning Home students at the maximum permitted level.

Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students. 

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support. 

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Programme changes:
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.