BA History of Art

Full Time
Degree of Bachelor of Arts

UCAS Course Code
A-Level typical
AAB (2017/8 entry) See All Requirements
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Students work in unrivalled proximity to major, internationally-renowned works of art, by artists such as Francis Bacon, Edgar Degas, Jacob Epstein, Henry Moore and Pablo Picasso. Our students are able to study a wider range of artistic cultures, periods and forms than in any other art history department in the UK.

Watch It

Key facts

(2017 Guardian University Guide)


Chris Dercon, director of Tate Modern, invited some of our 2nd year undergraduates to meet him in London to discuss his plans for the gallery and the future development of its collections. Dercon had previously met the students, who were all studying on our contemporary gallery and museum studies module at the time, in January after giving SIfA's 2015 Robert Sainsbury Lecture at the UEA.

"Being in the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and witnessing first-hand the workings of a gallery has allowed me to better understand the dynamics of such spaces”

In their words

Emily Lunn, BA History of Art Student

This degree course offers you an unusually broad education in the history of art. You will learn about the history of European and North American art and architecture, from classical antiquity, medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and modern periods, right through to contemporary art, whilst also studying aspects of non-Western art, such as the arts of Indian, African, South American and Pacific cultures.

Throughout this course you will be encouraged to engage closely with works of art and architecture in many historical and geographical contexts, and to think creatively about art’s meanings. You will also be encouraged to think about art as a transcultural and trans-historical phenomenon, connecting different periods and places.

You will have many opportunities to study works first-hand, in the world-renowned Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. You may also wish to participate in the ERASMUS exchange programme studying at a European university for a semester in your second year.


This degree course offers you an unusually broad education in the history of art. You will learn about the history of European and North American art and architecture, from classical antiquity, medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and modern periods, right through to contemporary art, whilst also studying aspects of non-Western art, such as the arts of Indian, African, South American and Pacific cultures.

Throughout this course you will be encouraged to engage closely with works of art and architecture in many historical and geographical contexts. You will be able to choose modules from the variety offered within Art History and World Art Studies.

In every module you will be taught to look closely at art and to think creatively and rigorously about its possible meanings. You will also be encouraged to think about art as a transcultural and trans-historical phenomenon, connecting different periods and different places.

You will have many opportunities to study works of art and artefacts first-hand; we are extremely fortunate to be housed in the world renowned Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts based on the UEA campus. You may also wish to take part in the ERASMUS exchange programme studying at a European university, such as Pisa or Berlin for one semester of your second year.



You will study various core modules in the first and second years, developing your understanding of the history of art, related key terms, and current debates. These modules will also cover related disciplines such as archaeology and anthropology.

Much of your learning programme will be made up of optional modules which will enable you to explore both new and familiar areas of art history. This includes the study of medieval and Renaissance art, and twentieth-century modernism, as well as the arts of Asia, Africa, South America and the Pacific.

Year 1
During the first year, your modules will introduce you to key themes and methods in both the history of art and the history of art collecting and display. You will also study the dynamic history of artistic techniques, materials and identities, as well as their significance within the history of portraiture as a cross-cultural practice from the Renaissance to the present day. All this is complemented by a module which encourages you to engage directly with artworks in the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. 

Year 2 
Core lecture modules in your second year develop your critical thinking skills by exploring different approaches to the analysis of artefacts and contemporary issues in the artworld. You will also select optional small-group seminar modules that will deepen your existing interests, or allow you to engage with cultures and art forms which may be new to you. You may also choose to spend a semester at a European university, allowing you to study certain artistic movements first-hand in the countries of their origin.

Year 3 
Teaching in your final year is carried out entirely through optional small-group seminar modules, in which you will engage with advanced and in-depth study of particular cultures and art forms.
You will also complete a dissertation on a topic of your own choice, supervised by a member of faculty within the Department. This will introduce you to the skills of academic enquiry, research and writing needed for postgraduate study.


Key skills, issues and ideas are introduced in lectures given by all members of faculty, including art historians, anthropologists and archaeologists. More specialist study is undertaken in small group seminars.

Assessment is largely through module coursework (typically essays) and, in some cases, examination results. In your final year, you will write a dissertation on a topic of your choice with the advice of an academic supervisor in the Department. Your final degree result is determined by the marks you receive in years two and three.



As well as the separate year abroad version of the History of Art degree course, we also offer the chance to spend a semester abroad on the ERASMUS exchange programme. For further information on the ERASMUS scheme, please visit the Study Abroad website.

Want to know more?

Come along to an Open Day and experience our unique campus for yourself.



Course Modules

Students must study the following modules for 120 credits:

Name Code Credits


Most works of art, whether objects, buildings, or performances, are designed to serve a set of purposes. The interrelationship of their forms and their functions may be straightforward and practical, or complex and elusive. Drawing on a range of case studies presented by ART staff, this lecture module examines the connections between the uses, meanings and appearances of art. We will also consider how form and function may change over time, especially in the context of cross-cultural contact.




This module provides an introduction to the academic study of art history by looking at how writers primarily in the European tradition have sought to analyse, record and evaluate works of art. We will examine texts from ancient Rome to the 20th century, and consider how accounts of artists' lives, descriptions of art works and attempts to trace a historical development of art have all informed the way that art historians think about their subject. In this seminar, we will also consider the problems of relating texts to visual art and ask what themes are relevant to art historians today.




This module introduces some of the key concepts and tenets underpinning art galleries and museums. One half of the module considers the ways in which museums engage visitors with their activities and their displays. The other half examines the reverse process, by reviewing the history of museums and considering the impact that society has on their development, structure and objectives. The teaching on this module uses the Castle Museum and Art Gallery and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts as case studies, in addition to considering a range of galleries and museums around the world.




This module helps equip students with the skills and knowledge they need to study objects from around the world, from prehistory to the present day. Drawing on the collections of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and of the Castle Museum and Art Gallery, as well as the architecture of Norwich, we will explore the ways in which materials, contexts and histories affect how objects have been made and used. Through readings, discussions and object handling, we challenge assumptions and preconceptions about different kinds of art. In the process, students develop their abilities in library research, academic writing and referencing, and oral presentations.




The process of making works of art - from objects to performances, bodies to buildings - involves a range of materials, activities and ideas. Through a series of lectures by members of ART staff, students on this module learn about the physical and technical properties of different materials as well as their social, economic and symbolic significance. We also consider the people involved in designing, crafting and creating such art, including their working methods and social status.




Introducing students to portraiture as it has been practiced by visual artists working in the European tradition between the fifteenth century and the present day, this module considers issues such as 'likeness'; the face; the self-portrait; portraiture as the embodiment of political, social and aesthetic power; the ways in which portraiture has variously reinforced and challenged concepts of class, race and gender; the photographic portrait, and the role of portraiture in contemporary art and culture. We will analyse the works of artists from Antiquity to the Contemporary alongside histories and concepts of the individual self, perhaps the supreme artefact of all.



Students must study the following modules for 40 credits:

Name Code Credits


This module addresses contemporary issues in the production and display of art. It explores the status of contemporary art in relation to globalisation but also examines the problems confronting critics, curators and scholars today when they engage with the art of different regions and of all periods, from prehistory to the present.




The main purpose of this module is to develop your critical skills as they pertain to thinking, reading, writing and looking. To deliver this, the module falls into two main sections. The first focuses on one particular methodology - object biographies - used in archaeology, anthropology, museum studies and art history. We shall examine this methodology in detail, breaking it down into its component sections. We shall then consider its strengths and its weaknesses; that is, we will subject it to a thorough critical evaluation. Then, in the second half of the module we shall focus more broadly on what critical thinking is, both in general and within each of the four disciplines taught in the School of World Art Studies. Building on this, the module ends by focusing on how you can apply critical thinking to your own thinking, reading, writing and looking. The module is taught through a combination of two weekly lectures and one discussion seminar. The lectures offer an introduction to the relevant topic, and end with a question for us to discuss/debate in the final 10 minutes of the lecture period. The discussion seminars will consider key issues in the previous week's lectures and the weekly class readings which accompany them.



Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


Fourteenth and fifteenth-century Italy was shaped by the growth of urban centres and the development of new political, social, and sacred institutions. New patrons and uses for artworks prompted a wealth of artistic activity that responded to and also forged contemporary values, beliefs and identities. Bankers, merchants, mercenaries, and religious institutions exploited the power of art and architecture to promote their professional interests, ambitions, and families. This module explores evolving forms and functions of painting, sculpture and architecture made by a range of artists including Giotto, Donatello, and Michelangelo.




This module introduces the history and archaeology of Africa in the past 1500 years. It focuses on its art and artefacts, and explores case studies such as the medieval empires of the Sahel, the Indian Ocean trade in cowrie shells and beads, trans-Saharan caravans and the sumptuous graves of Egypt and Congo. Through the discussion of Africa's past and its global links, we can reach a better understanding of the continent past and present, and challenge the false but popular notion that African societies have remained static over centuries and that the continent's role in world history was negligible, an idea underpinned by negative media coverage of Africa today. Archaeology, anthropology, history, and oral tradition all inform this module. And though our subject-matter in this course is African, the questions raised apply much more widely.



Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


This module examines the relations between art and photography in the United States in the first half of the 20th century. The central debate in American modernism has concerned the role of the medium and considering photography in relation to the other visual arts permits a reassessment of this debate. Artists and photographers examined include Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, Marcel Duchamp, Diego Rivera and Walker Evans.




In this module, we will examine the interaction between the visual and the verbal in British culture during the nineteenth century, looking at images and/or texts produced by William Blake, the Pre-Raphaelite circle, Algernon Swinburne, Edward Burne-Jones, the English social realists, James McNeill Whistler, Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde, Walter Sickert, the Bloomsbury group and artists/poets of the First World War. In turn, we will consider the ways in which art historians, poets, novelists, literary critics and theorists have considered the often-vexed relationship between image and word. Thus, while largely chronological in form the course requires students to engage with the theoretical and critical literature on image/word relations, and considers issues such as the title, the calligram, ekphrasis, visual humour and the aesthetics of texts.



Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


This module examines how contemporary artists have explored the way in which contemporary galleries and museums function. Since the 1960s artists have adopted the museum as both subject and medium in their artworks. These seminars will examine how such projects impact on our idea of what galleries and museums are, how they operate, and what role they have in public life today. Throughout, key ideas regarding aesthetics, politics, memory, and audience participation will be approached by way of specific artworks and exhibitions. These sessions will be supplemented by workshops exploring art criticism, as well as a study trip to London.




This module begins by analysing what is meant by Indigenous arts and peoples. In particular, we shall consider the link between the anthropology of art and Indigenous identity. The module continues by examining issues related to the interpretation of indigenous arts in wide-ranging geographic and cultural contexts from North America, to India and Australia. It then questions Indigenous peoples' engagement with notions of ethnicity and heritage, as well as the formation of an 'Indigenous media' through film-making. The module aims to foster an inter-disciplinary approach.



Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


In important respects drawing is archaic: we do it before we can speak or write, and it involves the most rudimentary of means. But what happened to drawing when it was swept up into the accelerated and technologized rhythms of modernity? How were its conventional pillars of manual skill, aesthetic beauty and expressive directness affected? How was drawing able to combine with other forms of practice and extend itself into new domains? Exploring an expanded conception of drawing via the work of some of the most celebrated modern artists, this module offers a critical introduction to the art of the 20th Century by way of a fascinating route not often travelled.




This examines the development of the art and architecture of Venice over a period from the city's foundation until the 18th century. This is a preparation for a fieldtrip to the city. Students on this module will be able to apply to the Emma Jonathan Fund for support in meeting the costs of the trip.



Students must study the following modules for 30 credits:

Name Code Credits


ART students on this module undertake a research project on a topic related to their specialised interests, in consultation with an appropriate member of ART Faculty, leading to a 9,000 word dissertation.



Students will select 30 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


This module is about the role of modern art in the making of India's national identity. It addresses probing questions, notably 'When was Modernism in Indian Art?' Since the beginning of the 20th century, artists and other cultural producers in India, such as film-makers, educationalists and anthropologists, sought to dismantle the colonial concepts that once framed their histories and identities. The module explores how artists such as Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar Baij and Rabindranath Tagore established cultural exchanges with diverse national and international communities in the early- to mid-twentieth century. It considers the many new artistic and cultural formations that emerged via the Bengal School and related movements, raising important questions concerning the meaning of the relationships between the local and the national, the future and the past, and the visual and the spatial. Including debates on issues as diverse as identity/difference, visual display, internationalism, cultural heritage, and the politics of representation, the module is of potential interests to students in HUM (notably ART) including those with a specific interest in art history, anthropology and museum studies.



Students will select 30 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


The figure of the artist has for centuries been the object of celebration, curiosity and myth-making. Since World War II powerful narratives have developed around some of the most prominent artists: Francis Bacon's dark world of intensity, anxiety and sado-masochism; the blank stare of Andy Warhol's commercial indifference; Joseph Beuys's redemptive shamanism; Louise Bourgeois the child abused using her art to resolve inner conflicts; and Ai Weiwei the great political dissident of contemporary China. This module explores the construction of such "makers' myths" and asks: How is an artist's public persona constructed and what bearing does it have on the interpretation of specific artworks? What idea of art's social role do different personae imply? How do these roles relate to our idea of what art can or should contribute to the contemporary world?




This module will consider the range of artworks produced by Joseph Mallord William Turner, within the context of the world in which he worked. It has long been recognised that those artworks amount to one of the crowning achievements (Turner would probably have preferred 'the crowning achievement') in the history of British art. Some of his contemporaries would see Turner's work in similar terms, describing him as an 'Old Master' even within his own lifetime, in a process of apotheosis which Turner fuelled by buying back his own paintings and then loudly leaving them to the nation. For much of the period since his death in 1851, this has remained the dominant vision of Turner: an isolated and untouchable 'genius' whose works transcend history and full interpretation. Recently however, art historians have started to think again about Turner and the real character of his achievement, situating both within the emergent modern art world of early nineteenth-century Britain. . This module will introduce students to this body of scholarship through a close analysis of Turner's own works - paintings, drawings and prints; landscapes, seascapes and historical/mythological images - read alongside set texts (including both primary sources and recent secondary literature), and within their artistic and historical contexts. We will look closely at a wide range of Turner's output and consider its interpretation, not only by ourselves but also by contemporary commentators including John Ruskin.



Students will select 30 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


This module addresses modernism in the first part of the twentieth century. It explores the work of male and female artists and also considers how gender structures representation and art practice. The module provides an opportunity to reconsider key works by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Suzanne Valadon, Hannah Hoch and Claude Cahun, amongst others.




This module examines the importance of substances and materials for peoples of the ancient Americas. By looking at artworks, imagery and archaeological contexts (esp. Mesoamerica and Central Andes), we will explore indigenous understandings of how worlds are fashioned, experienced and acted upon through material things. Among the most important substances are stone, fibre, metals/minerals, earth, water and blood - each with significant physical properties (e.g., colour, rarity, brilliance, durability) and symbolism. The module highlights monuments, mural painting, cloth, weaponry and body ornamentation crucial in the ritual life and worldviews of ancient America's great civilisations, such as Aztec, Maya, Inca and Moche.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Entry Requirements

  • A Level AAB
  • International Baccalaureate 33 points
  • Scottish Advanced Highers AAB
  • Irish Leaving Certificate AAAABB or 4 subjects at H1, 2 at H2
  • Access Course An ARTS/Humanities/Social Science pathway preferred. Pass with Distinction in 36 credits at Level 3 and Merit in 9 credits at Level 3
  • European Baccalaureate 80%

Entry Requirement

You are required to have Mathematics and English Language at a minimum of Grade C or Grade 4 or above at GCSE Level.

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students from all academic backgrounds. We require evidence of proficiency in English (including writing, speaking, listening and reading):

  • IELTS: 6.5 overall (with no less than 6.0 in any component)

We also accept a number of other English language tests. Please click here to see our full list.

INTO University of East Anglia

If you do not meet the academic and or English requirements for direct entry our partner, INTO University of East Anglia offers guaranteed progression on to this undergraduate degree upon successful completion of a preparation programme. Depending on your interests, and your qualifications you can take a variety of routes to this degree:

International Foundation in Business and Economics
International Foundation in Humanities and Law


The majority of candidates will not be called for an interview and a decision will be made via UCAS Track. However, for some students an interview will be requested. You may be called for an interview to help the School of Study, and you, understand if the course is the right choice for you.  The interview will cover topics such as your current studies, reasons for choosing the course and your personal interests and extra-curricular activities.  Where an interview is required the Admissions Service will contact you directly to arrange a convenient time.

Gap Year

We welcome applications from students who have already taken or intend to take a gap year.  We believe that a year between school and university can be of substantial benefit. You are advised to indicate your reason for wishing to defer entry and to contact directly to discuss this further.


The School's annual intake is in September of each year.

Fees and Funding

Undergraduate University Fees and Financial Support: Home and EU Students

Tuition Fees

Please see our webpage for further information on the current amount of tuition fees payable for Home and EU students and for details of the support available.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to ensuring that costs do not act as a barrier to those aspiring to come to a world leading university and have developed a funding package to reward those with excellent qualifications and assist those from lower income backgrounds. 

Home/EU - The University of East Anglia offers a range of Bursaries and Scholarships.  To check if you are eligible please visit the website.


Undergraduate University Fees and Financial Support: International Students

Tuition Fees

Please see our webpage for further information on the current amount of tuition fees payable for International Students.


We offer a range of Scholarships for International Students – please see our website for further information.

How to Apply

Applications need to be made via the Universities Colleges and Admissions Services (UCAS), using the UCAS Apply option.

UCAS Apply is a secure online application system that allows you to apply for full-time Undergraduate courses at universities and colleges in the United Kingdom. It is made up of different sections that you need to complete. Your application does not have to be completed all at once. The system allows you to leave a section partially completed so you can return to it later and add to or edit any information you have entered. Once your application is complete, it must be sent to UCAS so that they can process it and send it to your chosen universities and colleges.

The UCAS code name and number for the University of East Anglia is EANGL E14.

Further Information

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances with the Admissions Office prior to applying please do contact us:

Undergraduate Admissions Office (Art History and World Art Studies)
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

Please click here to register your details online via our Online Enquiry Form.

International candidates are also actively encouraged to access the University's International section of our website.

    Next Steps

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    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515