Undergraduate Course

BA Art History, Visual Culture and Media Studies

(including Foundation Year)

BA Art History, Visual Culture and Media Studies

Overview

The details
Art History, Visual Culture and Media Studies (including Foundation Year)
W353
October 2021
Full-time
4 years
Colchester Campus
Essex Pathways

On our four-year BA Art History, Visual Culture and Media Studies (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.

After successful completion of Year Zero in our Essex Pathways Department, you progress to complete your course with our School of Philosophy and Art History.

At Essex, you will explore a broad spectrum of art, visual culture and media, both past and present. You’ll learn about canonical forms of art and architecture and cover a range of visual culture, such as video art, medical photography, tattoos and objects from political protests. You’ll also study the various forms of contemporary media that shape our everyday lives, including film and television, photography, social media and advertising.

To study on our course, you don’t need an A-Level in art or art history. In fact, we believe that the best students of visual culture are those who bring fresh eyes and new perspectives to their objects of inquiry.

What’s more, you’ll have the opportunity to cover a range of disciplines through your modules during which you will combine different approaches to the study of visual media, hone your critical thinking and develop a deeper understanding of the histories and meaning of the visual world around you. You will develop the skills you need to transform your passion for art, visual culture, and media into the ability to uncover new insights about the material you study.

Throughout the course you’ll cover key areas including but not limited to:

  • World cinema
  • Digital media
  • Contemporary art
  • Politics

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, mainstream universities, THE 2014).

Please note this course is subject to approval.

THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

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.

Specialist facilities

Our outstanding facilities give you the opportunity for object-based learning, which is rare in other universities, and also enable you to gain curatorial experience:

  • 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
  • Colchester’s iconic Firstsite gallery runs an exciting programme of art exhibitions, film screenings and talks

Your future

The visual arts and culture industries have become an increasingly significant part of the national and international economy, and our 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.

We also work with the university's Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

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.

Standard offer:

Our standard offer is 72 UCAS tariff points from at least two full A-levels, or equivalent.

Examples of the above tariff may include:

  • A-levels: DDD
  • BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma: MMP

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.

International applicants:

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.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 5.5 overall. Specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK.

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.

Additional Notes

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.

Structure

Example structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. Below is just one example structure from the current academic year of a combination of modules you could take. Your course structure could differ based on the modules you choose.

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. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently planned for 2021 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Philosophy: Fundamental Questions, Major Thinkers

What can we know? How should we live? Study two important areas of philosophy – epistemology and ethics. Examine the work of key thinkers and understand the major themes in Western philosophy. Analyse contemporary issues using philosophical arguments. Become confident in the expression of your own thoughts and ideas.

View Philosophy: Fundamental Questions, Major Thinkers on our Module Directory

Major Writers in English Literature

Want to study Hamlet? And contemporary works by Angela Carter or Kazuo Ishiguru? Interested in World War One poetry? Study a range of drama, poetry and prose fiction. Describe, analyse and reflect on key texts from Shakespeare to the present day. Become familiar with the crucial terms for assessing literature.

View Major Writers in English Literature on our Module Directory

1939–2019: Eighty Years in the Life of the United Kingdom

Britain has experienced unprecedented changes in the last 100 years. What has brought about these changes and how have they affected the Britain of today? This course will outline political, economic, social and cultural change in the UK during the Twentieth Century and beyond and offer an insight into Britain’s place in the modern world.

View 1939–2019: Eighty Years in the Life of the United Kingdom on our Module Directory

Art and Ideas: I

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.

View Art and Ideas: I on our Module Directory

Art Revolutions (optional)

Realism and Impressionism. Meet the rule-breakers. What is it that motivates an artist to break the mould? Focussing on Realism and Impressionism in France, this module identifies not only how the political, social and economic changes during the nineteenth century affected art and creative thinking, but how this vibrant and multi-faceted group of artists, who refused to follow the crowd, influenced their world. Through analysis of primary and secondary sources, you’ll explore their historical reputation, as well as their relevance today.

View Art Revolutions (optional) on our Module Directory

Approaches to Film and Media

How do we analyse moving images? What innovations have transformed the cinema experience? What moments and movements have been key to film history? Study the development of international cinema, looking at all aspects of the form, including analysis of theoretical issues, film language, and a variety of important directors and genres.

View Approaches to Film and Media on our Module Directory

Media, Culture and Society

Does the media make people violent? Objectify women? Tell you what to do? Study the modern media as a social terrain, order of communication and domain of ideas, using examples from cinema, photography, newspapers and TV. Examine popular debates and consider practical methodologies for undertaking media research in the future.

View Media, Culture and Society on our Module Directory

Popular Film, Literature and Television: A Psychoanalytic Approach (Freud and Jung) (optional)

How can we use psychoanalytic theory to understand film, literature and television? What is culture and can it contribute to our understanding of psychoanalysis itself? Examine work by Freud and Jung, as well as more contemporary perspectives, through the lens popular culture.

View Popular Film, Literature and Television: A Psychoanalytic Approach (Freud and Jung) (optional) on our Module Directory

Introduction to European Literature (optional)

This module is an introduction to some of the most influential European writers from the Enlightenment period up to the present day. You study significant works of literature that sparked particular movements or represent crucial literary innovation. The works selected are novels, novellas, short stories and plays, and we examine these texts within their historical and political contexts. This module will help you to build understanding of the development of genres, forms, styles, content and ideas.

View Introduction to European Literature (optional) on our Module Directory

Digital Society

Does technology determine history? Can games teach us about power? Does software shape society? Develop a critical understanding of the role played by human-machine relationships in contemporary cultural change. Evaluate recent developments in media technologies from a sociological perspective. Develop your own blog as part of your final assessment.

View Digital Society on our Module Directory

Art in Latin America (optional)

Learn about the major artistic trends that have emerged from Latin America, from Mexican Muralism right up to transgenic art. On this module, you’ll delve into the themes of landscape, revolution, human rights, and the environment, which reflect the historical and contemporary challenges faced by the region and the role Latin American art has in the wider art world.

View Art in Latin America (optional) on our Module Directory

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.

View Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art on our Module Directory

The Internet and Politics (optional)

How does the internet influence democratic politics? Does it facilitate collective action and even undermine authoritarian regimes? Which means and strategies do governments use to control and regulate the internet and its use by citizens? This class introduces academic debates about these and other questions. It discusses the internet's role in democratic politics, the online information environment, political engagement, democratization, government efforts to control internet use, and data protection.

View The Internet and Politics (optional) on our Module Directory

Creative Media (optional)

Get yourself out there. Digital and social media provide invaluable platforms for showcasing your creative work, creating new and innovative content, and connecting with future employers, agents, and collaborators. In this module, you investigate the potential of both existing and emerging social and multi-media channels, getting hands-on in practical sessions, and gaining key knowledge of the legal aspects of web-based media.

View Creative Media (optional) on our Module Directory

Freud: Mind, Culture and Society (optional)

What do you know about depth psychology? How do psychoanalysis and analytical psychology provide new understanding of society, culture and politics? Build your knowledge about depth psychology - psychological thinking that introduces the concept of a deep unconscious. Understand Freud’s theories and their significance in social and cultural analysis.

View Freud: Mind, Culture and Society (optional) on our Module Directory

Social Data Science: Code, Text and Networks (optional)

With research methods rapidly changing in response to the large-scale generation of data within society, Social Science needs to ensure it is engaged with new digital methods to both benefit from them, and to shape them. In this module students will learn to combine their growing knowledge about society, social processes and research design, with powerful tools to both draw on and analyse the vast amounts and forms of new social data in a way that is With research methods rapidly changing in response to the large-scale generation of data within society, Social Science needs to ensure it is engaged with new digital methods to both benefit from them, and to shape them. In this module students will learn to combine their growing knowledge about society, social processes and research design, with powerful tools to both draw on and analyse the vast amounts and forms of new social data in a way that is critical, ethical and valuable.

View Social Data Science: Code, Text and Networks (optional) on our Module Directory

Final Year Dissertation Project (optional)

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.

View Final Year Dissertation Project (optional) on our Module Directory

Curatorial Project (optional)

In this module you will produce a 4,000-word curatorial project proposal. As part of the proposal, you will develop a virtual exhibition on a subject of your choosing. The final proposal could include a checklist of objects, catalogue entries and a catalogue essay. You will work in collaboration with a supervisor. This is a capstone module, available to final-year curatorial studies students.

View Curatorial Project (optional) on our Module Directory

Mass Media and Modern Life

What impact has the printed press had on our social and cultural life? What about radio, cinema, TV and recorded music? And how important is all this in the light of new technological advancements? Examine the development of our mass media culture, from the nineteenth century to the present day.

View Mass Media and Modern Life on our Module Directory

Digital Heritage and Museums (optional)

Digital technologies are re-defining contemporary heritage practices. Digital technologies and media are used for re-presenting, managing and disseminating information about cultural heritage as well as producing new cultural information on the web, which establishes digital heritage as a new field of study. This module will present digital heritage theories and explore how digital practices are changing the role of heritage institutions and museums as sites for the study, preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage.

View Digital Heritage and Museums (optional) on our Module Directory

Contemporary Art: 1980 to the Present (optional)

Thai curry for gallery-goers, and the aftermath of a monster attack – just two examples of how contemporary artists are pushing techniques, processes and media to the limit. Explore how the attitudes and approaches to art have evolved over the last 30 years, and the crucial precursors who influenced them, whilst always considering how the context in which art is made and received – be it geographical, sociological, political, or philosophical – affects its production, reception, and interpretation.

View Contemporary Art: 1980 to the Present (optional) on our Module Directory

Democracy and the Media (optional)

The relationship between the media and politics is a complex and important means by which the public are informed on and engaged by political activity. You consider the role of the media and democracy in the UK, and also explore how this functions elsewhere.

View Democracy and the Media (optional) on our Module Directory

Teaching

  • Close examination of texts written by historians of art and visual culture, media and culture theorists, film and art critics, and more
  • Subsidised gallery visits to study works ‘in situ’ for art history modules
  • Gain practical experience in curating, such as handling and installing artworks
  • Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes

Assessment

  • Assessment methods include coursework, for example essays, analysis of source material, exhibition reviews and virtual portfolios, coursework reports, oral presentations
  • Written examinations are taken for some modules at the end of each academic year, whilst others are assessed entirely by coursework

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,250

International fee

£16,850

EU students commencing their course in the 2021-22 academic year will be liable for the International fee.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home/UK fee information

International fee information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our 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 book a campus tour here.

Applying

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 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.

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.

Applicant Days and interviews

If you are an undergraduate student who has received an offer from us to study with us from October 2021, you will be invited to attend a Virtual Applicant Day so that you can get to know us from the comfort of your own home. Our Virtual Applicant Days will run until June 2021 and give you the chance meet academics online from the department you’ve applied to, and attend live talks and Q&A’s on our Virtual Applicant Day platform.

Some of our courses also require a compulsory interview. If you have applied to one of these courses you will receive an invite to a Zoom interview via email, along with further details about the interview process.

Colchester Campus

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.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

Virtual tours

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.

Exhibitions

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.


Find out more

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 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.

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