History of Art

BA (Hons)

UCAS code: V350

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: 3 years

Part time: 6 years

Location: Headington

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

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The moving sun creates shadows that dance over a building by Sir Christopher Wren. You’ll watch the spectacle. Pause and really take it in. Then back in the classroom we’ll talk about the historical and theoretical context that makes the moment even more significant.

At Oxford Brookes, we give you the chance to get out in front of actual art and buildings. Hunt through the riches of the Ashmolean Museum, handling some of the rare objects contained there. You could explore the fascinating tombs of Warwick’s Beauchamp Chapel. You’ll even get to take in a continental European city, perhaps wandering through the Louvre in Paris before heading back to a historic townhouse to discuss what you’ve seen with friends.

We focus on art and architecture from the Renaissance to the 20th century. In addition – in your own projects you can explore any area that interests you. Our team has world class research expertise. Whatever you’re interested in, you’ll find an expert who can support and encourage your specialism. 

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Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Don’t just study, experience

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

  • No experience necessary

    If you haven’t studied art history, we’ll get you up to speed. If you have, we’ll introduce you to new topics.

  • Packed with career skills

    You’ll develop your logical and critical thinking skills, learn advanced research techniques, and become a great communicator.

  • Study in Oxford

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

  • Explore your interests

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

  • 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 Oxford Brookes. 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

In year 1, we’ll introduce you to the key theories and history you need to know to succeed in the course. If you’ve studied art history before, we’ll introduce you to new concepts and advanced ideas that you won’t have come across. And if you haven’t, we’ll make sure you’re comfortable with the basics before you move on.

You’ll start to study museums and curating in your first year, and this will be a theme throughout the course as we invite curators in to talk about their work. By the end, you’ll have practical experience curating exhibitions.

In your second year, you’ll have the chance to spend a week in a European city, usually Paris. You’ll enjoy a busy schedule of tours and visits.

Back at Oxford Brookes, you’ll be studying specific periods from the 15th to 20th centuries. And you’ll look at wider thematic ideas, for example thinking about how technology changed European culture.

In your final year, you’ll study advanced subjects in small groups and discuss and debate new ideas each week. You’ll also complete an independent project with support from an expert supervisor.

Student studying

Learning and teaching

You will learn through a mixture of:

  • lectures
  • seminars 
  • tutorials.

First-hand experience of art works and buildings is important, so most modules feature a guided visit. We teach the fieldwork module entirely on site.

Many of the modules, in particular the final year advanced seminars, are closely based on staff research interests. You can find out more about our individual research and expertise on our staff pages.


Assessment is by coursework and examination. 
Coursework includes:

  • essays
  • group projects
  • individual seminar presentations
  • research projects.

Some modules involve an element of examination at the end of the semester, but others are assessed solely on the basis of your work during the semester. 

Assessed work for the honours dissertation takes the form of a 10,000 word piece of work.

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 the return trip to Paris, accommodation, breakfast and evening meals are all covered by your course tuition fees. 

For return trips to London galleries or museums, mid-day meals, and any entrance fees are not included in 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 £16 for a period return. 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.

Study modules

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.


  • Making and Meaning in Architecture

    In this module, you’ll gain an understanding of architectural history by examining buildings. You’ll gain the basic tools and terms needed for the historical analysis of buildings, via in-class sessions and visits to buildings in Oxford. You’ll focus on the styles, materials and functions of the buildings themselves. You’ll also explore the social and political contexts which produced them. 

    This module complements Making and Meaning in Western Art and Art in Oxford by offering an introduction to art historical study. It will also help you to build the skills essential for future modules, in particular those with an architectural component.

  • Reading Art History

    In this module, you’ll develop your ability to be a reflective and critical reader of the kinds of writings you’ll encounter during your History of Art degree. You’ll dig into the key concepts and approaches in writing about art, from the sixteenth century to today. You’ll gain core evaluative skills as you look at texts which are shaped by these approaches. You’ll also gain valuable skills and knowledge of how to read critically and how to recognise differences of methods in art history writing.

  • Making and Meaning in Western Art

    In this module, you’ll gain the tools you need to analyse art and its history. You’ll explore a fascinating range of paintings and sculptures, from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century. You’ll gain key skills as you examine these works of art and use them to investigate core themes and issues in art history.

Optional modules

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.

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.


The Faiths of the West

How have religious groups shaped the West, from the ancient to the modern world? How do different religious groups interact with each other? In this module, you’ll explore:

  • different religious groups and doctrines
  • religious art
  • religion in everyday life

We’ll mainly focus on Christianity, but also on the role of other faiths, such as Judaism and Islam.

Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Themes in European Art 1450-1700: Renaissance Bodies - Transformed, Constructed, Desired

    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.

    This module option is part of our compulsory Themes in European Art 1450-1700 module. This particular module option is subject to availability in any given year.


  • 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

    This module option is part of our compulsory Themes in 18th and 19th Century European Art. This particular module option is subject to availability in any given year.


  • 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.

    This module option is part of our compulsory Themes in Modern Art module. This particular module option is subject to availability in any given year.


  • Field Work in Art History: Paris

    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.


Optional modules

Themes in Architecture through Oxford Buildings

In this module, you’ll explore Oxford’s famous buildings first-hand. You’ll gain valuable analytical skills for studying the History of Art, as you explore the buildings in their social, environmental and architectural contexts. You’ll benefit from studying buildings directly, and visiting their sites. You’ll visit a diverse range of buildings in Oxford, from the renowned Oxford colleges to the Bodleian Library and the Sheldonian Theatre. 

Independent Study in History of Art

This module gives you the chance to do independent study on a topic that fascinates you. You’ll have the support of our expert History of Art staff, while having the freedom to design your own topic alone or in a small group. Whether you’re responding to a current art exhibition, or a pressing issue in art history and criticism, you’ll shape your project around your passions and gain key research skills for your future career. 

International Year Abroad

Optional modules

International Year Abroad

This is your opportunity to work or study in another country, so you can experience a different culture from the UK. You’ll be able to apply and test your knowledge and skills in new contexts that will significantly develop your employability profile.

Choosing this module will allow you to exhibit the development of self-management and working or studying in unfamiliar contexts, alongside practising cross-cultural communication and interpersonal skills.

You will receive support and guidance to help you find a place in an available partner university, or to find a work placement for your international year abroad. This international year abroad module lasts for one academic year and is taken after the conclusion of your second year of study, once you’ve completed all your level 5 studies. Your international year abroad is not credit-bearing.

The opportunity can be approached in 2 different ways. Please see your options below: 

Study in a non UK University Option

You can attend a non-UK higher education institution for a full academic year. You’ll be able to choose modules in your own subject or in a subject you consider would benefit your overall course of study. You may choose to deepen your knowledge of your degree subject or enhance it by developing complementary skills.

By studying in an international university you’ll progress your interpersonal skills through cross-cultural communication with fellow students and tutors, building lasting relationships. Also you’ll further develop your study skills as you focus on your selected areas of interest to you - while developing and progressing an international study experience that will add significance to your CV.

Work-based Learning Option

Undertake a work placement or work-related project based on your interests and existing skills. You will create an initial learning contract that shows clearly how your proposed placement or project will link with your academic and/or professional aims.

This pathway helps you to have full control over what your work-related learning looks like. You will advance your skills in a practical setting, gain first-hand experience in a work environment, and begin to create your professional network. Also, taking initiative of your learning in such a way will mean that you will stand out when you apply for jobs after graduation.

Final Year

Compulsory modules

  • History of Art Dissertation

    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. 

  • History of Art Synoptic

    In this module, you’ll identify and harness all of the skills and knowledge you’ve gained throughout your course. Through weekly discussions and debates, you’ll unlock your potential for a groundbreaking career. You’ll gain a strong and advanced understanding of your History of Art course content. You’ll make new connections between the ideas and content you’ve encountered in all your modules, giving you critical knowledge of your course and supporting your academic success.

Optional 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.

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.


Advanced Seminar 2: Dutch Seventeenth Century Painting

In this module you’ll explore the rich culture that produced celebrated artists like Rembrandt, Hals and Vermeer. You’ll examine the birth of forms like still-life, landscapes, genre and self-portraiture. And you’ll learn how these forms became commercially popular for the first time. You’ll also examine how masculinity and femininity were depicted in paintings. And you’ll consider what the original audiences might have thought of these now celebrated works.

This module is subject to availability in any given year.


Advanced Seminar 2: Culture and Modernity in 1920s and 1930s England

Explore the explosion of creativity surrounding art and ways of life in the 1920s and 30s. This visionary period saw the emergence of artists like Barbara Hepworth, Elizabeth Denby and Sadie Speight. And it produced groups like Unit One and the MARS Group. You’ll examine cultural artifacts of the time - from paintings and periodicals to film and furniture. You’ll explore debates about nationhood. And you’ll examine how these ideas impacted all areas of British culture.

This module is subject to availability in any given year.


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.


Past students of the course have gone on to a broad range of careers. They’re working in:

  • museums
  • galleries
  • auction houses
  • heritage organisations
  • education
  • journalism.

Employers include Sotheby’s, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Oxford Museum of Natural History. 

In your final year, you’ll develop practical experience of managing exhibitions and curating displays, ideal for a career in museums or galleries. But you’ll also develop lots of other key skills valued by many employers, in areas like administration, communications, public relations or retail.

Student profiles

Joint honours options

You can also study this course as part of a joint honours degree. This course can be joined with:

Related courses

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

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29


Contextual offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 88

A Level: CCD

IB Points: 27


Further offer details

For joint 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

International qualifications and equivalences

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time

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

International full time

Home (UK) full time

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

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time

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

International full time

2025 / 26
Home (UK) full time

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

International full time

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

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.

Information from Discover Uni

Full-time study

Part-time study

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.