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History of Art

BA (Hons) - single BA (Hons) - combined

School of History, Philosophy and Culture

Oxford is the ideal place to study the History of Art. It is home to an exciting range of museums, including the world-class Ashmolean, and a wealth of beautiful and historic buildings. We make maximum use of these resources by offering you a broad education in the histories of art and architecture, as well as giving you the chance to carry out more specialised study. Our tutors have an excellent range of expertise, with specialists in painting, drawing, prints, sculpture, architecture and art theory, and we will encourage you to develop and refine your own interests as you study with us.

We place a strong emphasis on studying works of art first-hand. You'll get to see art works in the flesh on our frequent visits to the galleries and museums in Oxford, trips to London and on our field trip to Paris.

Our friendly, close-knit team will help you get the most out of the course. One-to-one tutorials are offered on each module and you’ll be encouraged to talk to us outside of class to discuss your work and ideas. In addition, all our tutors are active researchers with strong reputations and are regularly involved with major exhibitions.

Typical offers

UCAS Tariff points: 112

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

  • Full time: 3 years
  • Part time: 6 years

UCAS code


For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • Art on your doorstep – Oxford is a great place to study history of art, with famous museums, beautiful buildings and easy access to exhibitions in London. 
  • High student satisfaction – in the 2016 National Student Survey 96% of students were satisfied by the overall quality of the course (Source: Unistats).
  • Excellent teaching – two of our tutors have won student-voted awards for their excellent teaching. In the 2017 National Student Survey 90% of students agreed that staff made the subject interesting. (Source: Unistats). 
  • Resources in Oxford – final year students writing their dissertations can access the world-class Bodleian Library, including the Sackler Library which houses an extensive range of History of Art collections.
  • Be part of a research community – you’ll be taught by active researchers who are experts in their fields. 78% of our research has been rated world-leading or internationally excellent (Source: REF 2014). You will be able to draw on this expertise and specialise in the areas that interest you the most. 
  • Combine with Fine Art – this unique combination will give you the experience of making art, whilst gaining insight into the work of other artists.
In Year 1 you will gain a solid grounding in the key concepts and skills you need to study the History of Art from the Renaissance to the Modern period. In Year 2 you will go on a study trip to Paris, which for many students is one of the highlights of the degree. Year 2 also includes the option to take the Curatorial Practice module which aims to give students knowledge and direct experience of the theoretical and practical issues involved in curating displays and exhibitions.
In Years 2 and 3 you’ll take modules on wider thematic issues. You will be able to give your studies a period focus by choosing modules on topics from the 15th to 20th centuries. In Year 3, you choose from a range of advanced seminars which give you the chance to work in small groups and in considerable depth on topics which are closely linked to the research specialisms of staff.
You also take a year-long discussion-based course called the History of Art Synoptic which focuses each week on a different problem or controversy in art history. On this module you’ll be encouraged to reach your own overview of the discipline. The synoptic module is designed to complement the final module, the dissertation. By writing a dissertation, you will conduct an in depth investigation into a topic of your own choosing and you’ll be guided by an academic with relevant expertise. 
It may be possible to pursue independent study linked to a placement in a gallery or museum. The University’s own exhibition space, the Glass Tank, offers two placements to History of Art students each year.

Work placements »


Study modules

As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the module list you choose from may vary from that shown here.

Year 1

  • Making and Meaning in Western Art (compulsory for single and combined honours)
  • Museums and Society (compulsory for single and combined honours)
  • Reading Art History (compulsory for single honours)
  • Art in Oxford (compulsory for single honours)

In addition most students take

  • Making and Meaning in Western Architecture 
  • Modern British Art

Years 2 and 3

Topics in recent years have included:

  • Themes in Modern Art
  • Themes in European Art 1450-1700
  • Themes in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century European Art
  • Oxford Buildings (an in-depth study of the remarkable architecture of Oxford which places particular emphasis on first-hand experience of the buildings)
  • Curatorial Practice
  • Field trip to Paris (unlike many other trips this is assessed, leading to a focused and intense but enjoyable week of study)
  • Anthropology of Art
  • Independent Study in History of Art
  • Advanced Seminar in the History of Art I and II (concentrated study of specialised topic: in recent years these have included The Art of Death, The Pre-Raphaelites, Tradition and Identity in Venetian Painting, 1450-1590 and This Changing World: culture and modernity in 1930s England)
  • History of Art Synoptic
  • Dissertation

Single honours students must take the compulsory modules Field Work in Art History, Synoptic, the Dissertation, at least two of the 'Themes' modules and at least one of the 'Advanced Seminar' modules.

Combined honours students must take at least one of the 'Themes' modules.

Modules in detail » Module diagrams »

Field trips

  • The course includes regular trips to galleries, museums and architectural sites.
  • London is an easy coach journey away, and many modules feature guided visits to London museums.
  • A highlight for many students is the study trip to Paris, usually taken in the second year. It involves a week’s intensive study of great artworks and buildings under the guidance of your tutors.

For the Paris study trip, the cost of your travel from London to Paris and back, accommodation, breakfast and evening meals are all covered by your course tuition fees. The cost of travel to London and back, mid-day meals, and any entrance fees to galleries or museums whilst in Paris are not included by your course tuition fees, and would need to be covered by the student.


In general, we recommend travelling to London and back on the Oxford Tube, which is £10 for a period return using a Brookes Key card. In addition we estimate a daily cost to the student of between €20-50 whilst on the Paris study trip to cover food and gallery entrance fees.


For other field trips we expect students to pay for their own travel (this is normally only as far as London, and some modules have visits to Oxford rather than London). We would not normally carry out visits to exhibitions which you have to pay to enter, and if we did it would be on a strictly voluntary basis. Travel to London from Oxford can be purchased for as little as a £10 period return on the Oxford Tube using the Brookes Key card discount.


Field trips »

Study abroad

You may be available to go on a European or international study exchange facilitated by the University. Students who wish to study abroad can apply to do so in year two of their studies. This is not a mandatory part of the course.

Studying abroad provides an amazing opportunity to add value to your studies by:

  • increasing your employability within an international market
  • boosting your language skills
  • building your confidence in adapting to new situations
  • improving your knowledge of different cultures.

Whilst on exchange you will gain credits which count towards your degree. The department has links with the Universities of Perugia, Italy, and Madrid, Spain. An alternative possibility is to spend a semester at an English-speaking university in northern Europe, the USA or Canada.

During your year abroad your tuition fees are paid as they would be if you remained in the UK, either to Oxford Brookes via your Student Loan or directly to Oxford Brookes according to your preference.

You will be responsible for all other costs such as accommodation, purchasing your airfares, travel and health insurance and any requisite visas. Funding is available through the Erasmus scheme, and also via some international programmes such as the Santander Student Awards.

There is also a European work placement programme which gives you the chance to work abroad as part of your studies.

For more information, visit our pages on studying abroad and exchanges.

Free language courses for students - the Open Module

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.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:

  • studying at a Brookes partner college
  • studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.

Sample lecture/work

Read about our newly developed curating module.

Additional costs

We do not expect students to purchase any compulsory course books, as they are all available in the library. If students wish to purchase additional books to supplement their reading, this is at their own discretion.

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.

Teaching and learning

  • You’ll be taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars and tutorials. We place a strong emphasis on interaction between students and lecturers. 
  • Almost all modules feature a guided visit, reflecting the importance we place on the first-hand experience of art works and buildings. The fieldwork module is taught entirely on site.
  • All our History of Art tutors are active researchers with strong reputations in their fields; they regularly publish books and major articles and are involved with the curation of exhibitions. 
  • Many of the modules, in particular the final year advanced seminars, are closely based on staff research interests. Please visit our staff pages to find out more about our individual research and expertise. 

Time spent in different learning activities

Year Lectures, seminars or similar Independent study Placement
1 16%84%0%
2 14%86%0%
3 13%87%0%
Year Lectures, seminars or similar Independent study Placement
1 18%82%0%
2 15%85%0%
3 21%79%0%
Year Lectures, seminars or similar Independent study Placement
1 26%74%0%
2 14%86%0%
3 9%91%0%
Year Lectures, seminars or similar Independent study Placement
1 16%84%0%
2 14%86%0%
3 13%87%0%
Year Lectures, seminars or similar Independent study Placement
1 18%83%0%
2 16%84%0%
3 16%85%0%
Year Lectures, seminars or similar Independent study Placement
1 18%82%0%
2 14%86%0%
3 11%89%0%

Approach to assessment

Assessment is predominantly through essays and exams. The final year dissertation is compulsory for single honours History of Art students and optional for combined honours students.

Breakdown of assessment methods used on this course

Year Written exams Practical exams Coursework
1 31%0%69%
2 44%0%56%
3 25%0%75%
Year Written exams Practical exams Coursework
1 38%0%63%
2 33%0%68%
3 26%0%74%
Year Written exams Practical exams Coursework
1 6%0%94%
2 25%0%75%
3 0%0%100%
Year Written exams Practical exams Coursework
1 25%0%75%
2 25%0%75%
3 19%0%81%
Year Written exams Practical exams Coursework
1 44%0%56%
2 25%0%75%
3 33%0%68%
Year Written exams Practical exams Coursework
1 17%0%83%
2 38%0%63%
3 13%0%88%

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2018/19: £9,250. 2019/20: £9,250.

Home/EU - part time fee: 2018/19: £750 per single module. 2019/20: £750 per single module.

International - full time: 2018/19: £13,150 2019/20: £13,410

Please note tuition fees for Home/EU students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students.

Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning home and EU students at the maximum permitted level.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see:

Typical offers

UCAS Tariff points: 112

A-Level: BBC or equivalent

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

IB Diploma: 30 points


If you accept a Conditional offer to this course as your Firm choice through UCAS, and the offer does not include a requirement to pass an English language test or improve your English language, we may be able to make the offer Unconditional. Please check your offer carefully where this will be confirmed for each applicant.

For combined honours, normally the offer will lie between the offers quoted for each subject.

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

Specific entry requirements

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

Please see the University's standard English language requirements

Pathways courses for international and EU students

If you do not meet the entry requirements for this degree, or if you would like more preparation before you start, you can take an  international foundation course. Once you enrol, you will have a guaranteed pathway to this degree if you pass your foundation course with the required grades.

If you only need to meet the language requirements, you can take our  pre-sessional English course. You will develop key language and study skills for academic success and you will not need to take an external language test to progress to your degree.

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

How to apply

International applicants

Apply direct »

For full-time study you can also apply through UCAS.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Credit transfer

Oxford Brookes operates the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). All undergraduate single modules are equivalent to 7.5 ECTS credits and double modules to 15 ECTS credits. More about ECTS credits.

Why Oxford is a great place to study this course

Oxford, with its outstanding museums and galleries and wealth of historical architecture, is a particularly good location for studying History of Art.

You’ll quickly become familiar with the Ashmolean Museum, the Christ Church Picture Gallery, and Modern Art Oxford. We make use of these resources in the course with regular visits. We also invite guest lecturers from the local area, for example on the Museums and Society module we have invited staff from Rick Mather Architects to talk about their recent work in redesigning the Ashmolean Museum.

We also take advantage of Oxford's world-renowned architecture which dates from Saxon times to the twenty-first century and all times in between. We make use of our proximity to London to make regular visits to important collections such as the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Modern and Tate Britain.

We have an excellent working relationship with the University of Oxford, with whom we run an art history seminar which meets several times a semester. Final year students doing dissertations have access to the world-class resources of the Bodleian Library and the Sackler Library.

General support services

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Personal support services

We want your time at Brookes to be as enjoyable and successful as possible. That's why we provide all the facilities you need to be relaxed, happy and healthy throughout your studies.

Career prospects

  • A History of Art degree offers a gateway into many art-related professions, including museums, commercial galleries, auction houses and arts journalism.
  • Recent graduates have gone on to work in the Ashmolean Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Christie's auction house.
  • History of Art does not only prepare you for arts-related professions. Like other humanities degrees, it offers a general training in analytical thinking, research skills, self-discipline and effective written and spoken communication.
  • Our graduates enter a very wide range of careers, from school teaching to librarianship, banking to advertising.
  • You'll be encouraged to think about career opportunities through in-house careers events and by talking to your tutors and other University staff in our careers centre about your ideas and aspirations.

You can also read more about the destinations of some of our recent graduates here

Further study

Many of our students are inspired to undertake further study of art-historical subjects at MA or PhD level.

You can choose to stay with us to continue your studies. We offer a MA by Research, MPhil and PhD in Art History. Current doctoral research topics include 'Henry VII's use of Visual Culture', 'Landscape painting and exhibitions in England, 1760-1790', 'Modern Art for Middle America: American Abstraction in Postwar Mass Magazines' and 'Paintings and Photographs of Fisherfolk in West Cornwall, 1860-1910'.

Find out more about postgraduate research degrees in our School.