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BA Art History with Modern Languages

Why we're great

  • We are distinct - study the social and political implications of art and go beyond its historic institutions.
  • Our structured programme of study trips at home and abroad covers both the exotic and the local.
  • We house the most important collection of Latin American art in Europe, ESCALA.

Course options2017-18

UCAS code: V3R9
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Philosophy and Art History (School of)
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666

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About the course

Our course allows you study the history and theory of art combined with French (post-A Level), German, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese (post-A Level or ab initio), and includes the chance to spend a year abroad studying at one of our partner institutions, such as the Ecole du Louvre in Paris.

You receive a distinctive curriculum which covers the whole history of art, enabling you to choose from a variety of specialist options, while simultaneously becoming proficient in one or more languages. You engage with art works that range from Old Master paintings, through the Pre-Raphaelites and Surrealists, to the most up-to-date contemporary art and visual culture.

Modules explore a wide variety of media, including architecture, urbanism, photography and video, as well as painting, drawing, printmaking, performance art and sculpture. We have also embedded clear pathways to careers in curating and museumship throughout the course should you wish to take them, with modules in every year dedicated to the histories, theories and practices of museums, exhibitions and galleries. At the same time you can either begin the study of a language as complimentary to your course, or improve your current language skills.

One of the major reasons for choosing Essex is the quality of the education you will receive. We are ranked 6th among art history departments in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014), and you will be taught by our expert staff in your very first year, a rarity in UK art history courses.

Our Department of Language and Linguistics is one of the largest and most prestigious language and linguistics departments in the world, a place where talented students become part of an academic community in which the majority of research is rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, placing us firmly within the Top 10 departments in the UK and among the Top 150 departments on the planet (QS World University Rankings).

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond our University campus. On this course you spend the third of your four years abroad, experiencing, engaging with, and integrating into another culture.

You can study at one of the prestigious universities with which we have exchange links. These include universities in:

  • France (Lyon 3, Montpellier and Nice)
  • Germany (Berlin FUB, Trier and Konstanz)
  • Italy (Bologna, Trento and Urbino)
  • Portugal (Coimbra)
  • Brazil (Florianopolis and Salvador)
  • Spain (Murcia, Madrid, Cadiz and Granada)
  • Chile (Santiago)
  • Colombia (Bogota)
  • Mexico (Mérida and Monterrey)

You continue to study modules relevant to your course, learning your chosen languages within a country that speaks them, and you pay no tuition fees for your time overseas.

You may also undertake a period of study followed by a work placement abroad.

Whichever option you choose, studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.

Our expert staff

We are a dynamic group of art historians who investigate the production and reception of images and built environment, across cultures and media, from the early modern period to the present day.

Our art history staff’s research interests include activist art, modernist art and totalitarianism, the relationship of art and science, the artistic status of body modification, expressions of societal anxiety in art, as well as architecture and urbanism.

Our language and linguistics staff are internationally renowned. Their books dominate the reading lists at other universities. All our language teachers are native or bilingual speakers, we maintain excellent student-staff ratios, and we integrate language learning with linguistics wherever there is synergy.

In addition to helping you acquire practical foreign language skills, our staff share their expertise with you in the areas of professional translation, interpreting and subtitling, film and art, business, and culture.

Specialist facilities

  • Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space. Many of our students gain work and research experience through our collection
  • Our onsite gallery Art Exchange runs an ongoing programme of contemporary art exhibitions, talks by curators and artists, and exhibitions organised by our curatorial students
  • Enjoy regular visits to London galleries, including Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the National Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts, as well as many independent and alternative spaces
  • Access to two multimedia language teaching labs which are equipped with state-of-the-art Melissi Digital Classroom software, and fitted with computers integrating audio-visual projectors and large screens
  • Meet other linguists and practice your language skills at our Language Cafés

Your future

Companies and organisations in the UK and abroad are struggling to find university graduates who are fluent in at least one other language, apart from English. Language skills are in scarce supply and can be used in almost any job.

Graduates from our BA Art History with Modern Languages are prepared for roles as curators, teachers, translators and journalists. Having strong language skills have enabled our graduates to work in diverse fields including banking, entertainment, media, education and tourism for UK and international companies.

Our recent graduates have gone onto work for a wide range of organisations including:

  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Victoria and Albert Museum

We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to make sure you gain key knowledge in the discipline, while having as much freedom as possible to explore your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are just a selection of those available. The opportunity to take optional modules will depend on the number of core modules within any year of the course. In many instances, the flexibility to take optional modules increases as you progress through the course.

Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students, including details of all optional modules.

The language module that you will study will depend upon your level when you arrive in the department. We are happy to accept students with no previous knowledge of the language (except for French where an A level is required if you wish to major in this language). Please refer to the progression pathway table to find out which modules are suitable for your linguistic profile.

In your first, second and fourth year you can choose optional modules from other subject areas if you wish.

Our courses allow you to study up to two, three or four modern languages. The below example structure shows a student studying French and Spanish.

Year 1

Explore the varied ways in which art historians, philosophers and artists have thought and written about art, from the Antiquity to the 21th century. This module examines the role of emotions in experiencing art, social and feminist art histories, the changing conceptions of what defines ‘art’, and the impact that ideas have on artistic creation itself. It will provide you with a sound foundation in the fundamental theoretical issues relating to the history of art and artistic practices.

Build on your knowledge gained from AR113, and tackle some of the biggest questions surrounding the history of art. Explore the key issues of storytelling and style, and the complex notion of “looking”, by engaging critically with seminal texts, original works of art, and architecture. Through debates and essays, you will develop your analytical and interpretive skills, and leave with a solid foundation for the study of the history of art.

Get ready to take on the ever changing graduate jobs market with this employability module, and equip yourself with the skills, competencies, and attitudes essential for success in the arts and cultural fields. By looking critically at how the industry has developed over time, you will leave with a more solid understanding of your place in the world, and the confidence to take risks and make an impact.

Want to learn German from scratch? Study the German language from basic to advanced level, so that you can communicate in complex situations and read extended texts, like newspaper articles. Learn how to give short talks or presentations in German and be able to write German coherently.

In a mixture of lectures and site visits around Essex and the wider region, learn about the relationship between spaces and those who inhabit them, and how space produces and shapes culture in various ways. From prisons to power-stations, from cathedrals to piers, discover how and why the visual works, how it is affected by, and affects the context in which it sits, and the impact it has on our lives, whilst picking up some vital transferrable skills. This module is intended to serve as an introduction to concepts of visual culture, urbanism, and the critical theories of space.

Want to learn Spanish from scratch? And spend four weeks abroad during the summer? Build your language abilities, so you can read short stories or novels in Spanish, as well as articulate your ideas verbally or in writing. Undertake a research project, in Spanish, on a topic of your choosing.

Want to learn Italian from scratch? Reach A-level Italian standard, gaining understanding of Italian language structure and functions. Take part in a variety of class activities, including individual and group work, to build your Italian communication skills.

Want to build your confidence when both speaking and writing in French? Develop your university-level French language skills, improving your aural comprehension while boosting your grammar knowledge and vocabulary. Learn to appreciate, summarise and evaluate a piece of text. Expand your understanding of French culture and society.

Have you knowledge of Spanish, Italian or Romanian? Do you want to speak Portuguese too? Develop advanced written, aural/oral and reading skills, as well as build your knowledge of Brazilian/Portuguese culture and society. Learn to understand short texts, be able to write letters and interact in everyday situations in Portuguese.

Want to build your confidence when both speaking and writing in Spanish? Develop your language abilities, expanding your vocabulary and improving your listening and oral skills. Expand your understanding of Spanish and Latin American culture and history through the use of texts, films and conversations with native speakers.

Year 2

Do our urban surroundings influence our behaviour, or is it our behaviour which affects our surroundings? This module explores the art, architecture and urbanism of Constantinople/Istanbul, Rome, and Tenochtitlán/Mexico City between 1400-1800, a period of massive change in each of these metropolises. By examining these cities we can begin to understand how urban identity is affected by art and architecture, and vice versa.

Roam the streets, salons and cafés of the city Walter Benjamin described as the capital of the nineteenth century, and encounter the people who lived there. Discover why Paris was considered so modern and revolutionary; immerse yourself in the rich mythologies of the city; and learn how it became the cultural hub of the west between the French Revolution and the Second World War.

What interests you? What could you examine further about the language you are studying? Identify a linguistic, literary, social, cultural or related topic for your level 5 language. Research and complete an extended piece of writing in a foreign language, building your knowledge and understanding as you do so.

Need to build your professional skills? Want to know how to use various software packages? Cover topics related to your studies and to the world of work. Gain transferable skills by making oral presentations in French, retrieving and processing information from internet sources, and producing documents relating to working life.

Want to develop your language skills through French cinema? Study six French films in depth to further improve your language abilities. Gain an insight into key aspects of French cinema and culture, deepening your existing knowledge and understanding.

What are the cultural differences between these three different German speaking countries? What are the similarities? And can you discuss these matters in German? Build your linguistic skills as you examine, compare and contrast the geography, customs, society and culture of Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

Have you knowledge of Spanish, Italian or Romanian? Do you want to speak Portuguese too? Develop advanced written, aural/oral and reading skills, as well as build your knowledge of Brazilian/Portuguese culture and society. Learn to understand short texts, be able to write letters and interact in everyday situations in Portuguese.

Do you want to be able to analyse Spanish and Latin American prose? Or use your spoken Spanish to show a range of registers and emotions in a conversation? Study the history and development of the Spanish language and the societies that speak it, from pre-history to modern times.

What do you know about Hispanic culture? Examine three key aspects of Hispanic culture – art, film and music. Build your understanding of these topics alongside your language skills, improving your vocabulary and grammar as you study film scripts, art criticism and song lyrics.

Who is Johnny Stecchino? What do Florentines think of Renzi? Widen your knowledge of contemporary Italian culture, studying the history and popular events. Discuss matters using the appropriate vocabulary, and summarise and report on topics in Italian. Present your research findings, on a subject of your choosing, to the class.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.


  • Close examination of texts written by artists, critics, art historians and philosophers
  • Subsidised gallery visits to work ‘in situ’ for each course
  • Gain practical experience in curating, such as handling and installing artworks
  • Activities designed to develop your practical language skills, such as role-play and class presentations
  • Cultural and social themes are explored through film, music, the internet, theatre and literature
  • Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes


  • Assessment methods include coursework, for example essays, analysis of source material, exhibition reviews and virtual portfolios, coursework reports, oral presentations
  • Languages assessed through role-plays and translations
  • Written examinations are also taken for the majority of modules at the end of each academic year

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UK entry requirements

A-levels: BBB

IB: 30 points. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes 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. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM (in relevant subject)

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. (Different requirements apply for second year entry.)

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.

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

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 required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications.

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Visit us

Open days

Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.


Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.

Visit days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our visit days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your visit day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

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