On our four-year BA Art History (including foundation year), we work with you to develop your subject-specific knowledge, and to improve your academic skills. You receive a thorough grounding in these areas during your foundation year (known as Year Zero) to prepare you for a further three years of undergraduate study at Essex. The five-year version of our degree allows you to spend the fourth year studying abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the four-year course.
At Essex, you will acquire a broad foundation in the history of visual culture: both by learning about canonical forms of art and architecture and by discovering what has been overlooked or marginalised, such as medical photography, tattoos or objects from political protests. You will also develop the skills you need to make exciting new connections between the forms of visual culture you study, developments in other disciplines, and broader social and political forces.
You will develop the skills you need to transform your excitement about art, architecture and visual culture into the ability to uncover new insights about the material you study. You will also develop a solid grounding in the history of art and other forms of visual culture, including the ideas and forces that shaped their production, distribution and reception.
For students with a particular interest in pursuing careers in curating and museumship, we also provide modules every year that explore the histories, theories and practices of museums, exhibitions and galleries, as well as more nuts-and-bolts issues, such as installing and marketing artwork.
One of the major reasons for choosing Essex is the quality of the education you will receive. We are 3rd in the UK for research outputs in art history (Grade Point Average, REF2021). You will be taught by our expert staff in your very first year, a rarity in UK art history courses. We also house a collection of over 750 pieces of art from Latin America, ESCALA.
Why we're great.
We equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed at Essex and beyond.
Guarantee your place on your chosen course if you successfully complete your foundation year at Essex.
Small class sizes allow you to work closely with your teachers and classmates.
Our BA Art History programme offers you a variety of study abroad options. The five-year version of our degree allows you to spend the fourth year studying abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the four-year course.
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. We have established partnerships across Europe, the United States, Latin America and Asia, including with world-renowned institutions such as:
École du Louvre in France
University of Freiburg in Germany
University of Bologna in Italy
Many of our partnerships are subject to language requirements and are recommended for students on joint degrees with languages, but there are also plenty of Anglophone destinations if you don’t want to pursue a second language.
If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university
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 late medieval period to the present day.
Our staff’s research interests include activist art, modernist art and totalitarianism, the relationship between art and science, the artistic status of body modification, art and the environment, critical heritage, and the visual culture of social problems. We also have significant experience in curation and public engagement. Recent projects include:
Paola Di Giuseppantonio Di Franco’s UKRI Future Leaders-funded research project, REPLACE
Matt Lodder’s Painted People: Humanity in 21 Tattoos (HarperCollins, 2022)
Diana Bullen Presciutti’s Saints, Miracles, and Social Problems in Italian Renaissance Art (Cambridge, 2023)
By studying within our Essex Pathways Department for your foundation year, you will have access to all of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our Academy to support you:
We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials
Our new Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
Our social space is stocked with hot magazines and newspapers, and provides an informal setting to meet with your lecturers, tutors and friends
Our School of Philosophy and Art History also offers excellent on-campus 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 our lively common room and departmental film collection
Colchester’s iconic Firstsite gallery runs an exciting programme of art exhibitions, film screenings and talks
The visual arts and culture industries have become an increasingly significant part of the national and international economy, and our art history graduates leave Essex with the skills to take advantage of this growing opportunity.
Some of the sectors with jobs well suited for our graduates include: museums and galleries, auction houses, education (e.g., in schools, universities and cultural institutions), marketing and advertising, and new media. Our degree also prepares students to run their own galleries, to work as specialist arts lawyers and PR agents, and for positions in charities, fashion and publishing.
To help our students acquire the particular skills they need to gain employment in the museum and gallery sector – arguably the single-most important area in which our students seek jobs – we offer several modules every year dedicated to the histories, theories and practices of museums, exhibitions and galleries. We also give our students the opportunity to think creatively and proactively about life after university in our curatorial employability module.
Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:
National Portrait Gallery
Victoria and Albert Museum
Sotheby’s New York
We also work with the university's Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
UK entry requirements
UK and EU applicants:
All applications for degree courses with a foundation year (Year Zero) will be considered individually, whether you
think you might not have the grades to enter the first year of a degree course;
have non-traditional qualifications or experience (e.g. you haven’t studied A-levels or a BTEC);
are returning to university after some time away from education; or
are looking for more support during the transition into university study.
Our standard offer is 72 UCAS tariff points from at least two full A-levels, or equivalent.
Examples of the above tariff may include:
BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma: MMP
T-levels: Pass with E in core
If you are unsure whether you meet the entry criteria, please get in touch for advice.
Mature applicants and non-traditional academic backgrounds:
We welcome applications from mature students (over 21) and students with non-traditional academic backgrounds (might not have gone on from school to take level 3 qualifications). We will consider your educational and employment history, along with your personal statement and reference, to gain a rounded view of your suitability for the course.
Essex Pathways Department is unable to accept applications from international students. Foundation pathways for international students are available at the University of Essex International College and are delivered and awarded by Kaplan, in partnership with the University of Essex. Successful completion will enable you to progress to the relevant degree course at the University of Essex.
International & EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
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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
If you are an international student requiring a Student visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
Our Year 0 courses are only open to UK and EU applicants. If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to your chosen degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College.
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed are subject to change. Your course structure could differ based on the modules you choose. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.
We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.
Components and modules explained
Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.
Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.
What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.
Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.
In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.
Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:
The department or school the module will be taught by.
In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.
Introduction to the History of Art in Western Europe: From Classical Greece to Impressionist France
This module aims to introduce you to the history of painting, sculpture and architecture in Western Europe. We hope that through following the course you will become familiar with the way people interpret and write about art, and that you will develop your own style of discussing art. The module focuses on certain key concepts. We start by looking at Greek Civilisation and its influence, and end with the artistic revolutions in France which changed the way we look at art today.
This blended-learning module is designed to support students in their academic subject disciplines and to strengthen their confidence in key skills areas such as: academic writing, research, academic integrity, collaborative and reflective practices.
The students are supported through the use of subject-specific materials tailored to their chosen degrees with alignment of assessments between academic subject modules and the skills module.
This module is intended as a skills-building course for first year art history students, to develop writing skills across a range of assessed and non-assessed writing types (essay, critical review, reading summary, label text, catalogue essay etc). The module will also present an introduction to research methods in art history, and a historical overview of art historical writing.
This module tackles some of the biggest questions surrounding the history of art. You will explore some key issues of philosophical aesthetics, such as the nature of representation, by engaging critically with seminal texts, artworks, and architecture. In this module, you will develop your analytical and interpretive skills, and leave with a solid foundation for the study of the history of art.
From sculptures of ancient Roman politicians to virtuoso feats of Baroque illusionism, we will focus on `why` and `how` art and society interrelate. This module examines the relationship between visual culture and social life through case studies spanning more than two millennia of history. It focuses on a select number of major developments in a range of media and cultures, emphasising the ways that works of art function both as aesthetic and material objects and as cultural artefacts and forces.
Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art
How did our society decide what counts as ‘art’ and what is ‘culture’? Is there really such a thing as high vs low culture? What are the political stakes of these divisions? This module looks at the shift in ideas from ‘art history’ to visual and material cultural studies.
This module will engage with these debates and teach you new methods for seeing, interpreting and understanding art, design, craft, performance, film and games.
These new ways of seeing are often driven by a critical impetus, and allow us to look at culture to draw out new perspectives on social and political issues of activism and social change, sex, technology, memes, police violence, migration, austerity and crisis, state surveillance, and our relation to animals and the environment.
In this module you will produce a 4,000-word dissertation. The finished dissertation should show an all-round grasp of your subject and the ability to present your material clearly, succinctly and in the most appropriate sequence. It should also demonstrate evidence of a serious engagement with your topic, a mastery of the information currently available, and the inclusion of your own reasoned, critical judgements. A supervisor will help guide you as you begin to develop a research question, start researching the topic and write the dissertation. This is a capstone module, available to final-year art history students.
This third art and ideas module deepens your existing thematic and historiographical knowledge building on Art and Ideas 2. We’ll be looking back at ‘the history of art history’ before the twentieth century. We’ll also look forward, to new cutting-edge theoretical approaches to arts, visual and material cultures.
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.
Your teaching mainly takes the form of lectures and classes, the latter involving about 20 students
A typical timetable includes a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your four modules every week
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
Any language classes involve language laboratory sessions
Our classes are run in small groups, so you receive a lot of individual attention
Your assessed coursework will generally consist of essays, reports, in-class tests, individual or group oral presentations, and small scale research projects
Fees and funding
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. 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 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. Independent applicants in the UK or EU 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.
You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.
Please note that this course is not open to international applicants
If you are an undergraduate student residing in the UK who has received an offer to study with us in October 2023, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Applicant Days. Our Colchester Campus Applicant Days run from February to May 2023 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus Applicant Days run from March to June 2023 on various weekdays and Saturdays. Applicant Days provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. We appreciate that travelling to university events can be expensive. This is why we have increased our Applicant Day Travel Bursary cap, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Applicant Days, including Terms and Conditions and eligibility criteria for our Travel Bursary, please visit our Applicant Days webpage.
Visit Colchester Campus
Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see 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.
At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.
The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and
Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.