BA History of Art


Study Art History at UEA and learn from world-leading art experts in a setting unlike any other in the country. Immerse yourself in great works of art and join a revolution in the way we think about art around the world.

Watch It
"The course leaders are passionate and helpful, and have so much wonderful knowledge to give."

In their words

Jennifer Smith, BA History of Art with Museum and Gallery Studies

Read It
"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.


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 have the world-renowned Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts based on campus.

Course Structure

Your degree programme may contain compulsory or optional modules. Compulsory modules are designed to give you a solid grounding, optional modules allow you to tailor your degree.

The course modules section below lists the current modules by year and you can click on each module for further details. Each module lists its value (in credits) and its module code, a year of study is 120 credits. 


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.

Course Modules 2018/9

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. How their forms and functions relate may be straightforward and practical, or complex and elusive. Through a range of case studies, presented in lectures by our staff in Art History and World Art Studies, you will examine the connections between the uses, meanings, and appearances of art, culture, space, and landscape. You will also consider how these connections may change over time, especially in the context of cross-cultural contact. The opportunity to analyze texts on your own and in discussion groups will help you understand different points of view and construct an argument supported by evidence.




This module introduces you to the study of art history. You will discover what makes art history distinct as an academic discipline. By learning about the themes art historians have explored over time, and some of the methods they use to study art, you will start to understand the subject better - and to appreciate how it fits into your degree. As a seminar, this module also gives you the chance to experience the small-group discussions that are central to our teaching.




This module will introduce you to some of the key concepts underpinning art galleries and museums. You'll learn about the history of museums and their impact on society. You'll consider how museums and galleries today use not only their displays but also a range of activities to attract, educate, and inspire visitors. By visiting museums and galleries in Norwich as part of this module - including the Castle Museum and Art Gallery and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts - you'll gain a real-world perspective on museums today. You will also have a chance to study galleries and museums from around the world.




In this module, you'll discover the art and architecture that makes up our department's home in the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (SCVA). Designed by Lord Norman Foster and opened in 1978, this building and the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection have shaped the study of Art History and World Art Studies at UEA. Through readings, group discussions, and the close study of objects in the SCVA, you'll be encouraged to challenge assumptions and preconceptions about different kinds of art - from around the world, and from prehistory to the 20th century. This module will also develop your abilities in library research and academic referencing.




Making works of art - from objects to performances, bodies to buildings - involves a range of materials, activities and ideas. On this module, you'll learn about the physical and technical properties of different materials as well as their social, economic and symbolic significance. You'll hear from a range of experts in a series of lectures by our staff in Art History and World Art Studies. You'll gain a wider perspective on how people at different times, in different cultures, have designed, crafted and created works of art - challenging narrow ideas about what (and who) an artist is. You'll also develop the skills you need to write effective essays at university.




How do you represent a person? On this module, you will explore the genre of portraiture as it has been practiced by visual artists from the ancient world to the present day. You will develop the skill of visual analysis as you consider 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. You will also continue to develop your writing skills, as we analyze works of art 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


Art is a resource which can be used both positively and critically to affect the contemporary world around us. It may be exploited, most obviously for its economic value, but also for broader social or political gain. You will explore these different uses of art by addressing the factors that condition our contemporary reception of art works and visual culture. You will begin by examining some of the key methodologies for interpreting art's contemporary functions, including its capacity to create contemporary identities and world-views. You will then turn to focus on the museum and gallery as spaces for these contemporary issues to emerge, before considering the same ideas at work in more quotidian ways. And, finally, you will conclude with a reflection on your own position as art historians, anthropologists, and archeologists working with art in the contemporary world.




Your main objective in this module will be to develop your critical skills as they pertain to thinking, reading, writing and looking. To enable this, the module will fall into two main sections. In the first section, you'll focus on one particular methodology - object biographies - used in archaeology, anthropology, museum studies and art history. You'll examine this methodology in detail, breaking it down into its component sections. You'll then consider its strengths and its weaknesses, as we subject it to a thorough critical evaluation. In the second half of the module, you will study a range of theories and methodologies used in the study of material culture. In this part of the module, you will focus more broadly on what critical thinking is, both in general and within each of the four disciplines taught in the Department of Art History and World Art Studies. You'll be taught through a combination of two weekly lectures and one discussion seminar. The lectures will offer you an introduction to the relevant topic, and will end with an opportunity to discuss/debate the issues raised. During the discussion seminars, you'll consider key issues raised in preceding lectures and the weekly class readings which accompany them.



Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


You will explore the rich history of art made after 1945, with a particular emphasis upon the problem of the relationship between the idea of art's autonomy and claims for its capacity to engage directly with social and political conditions. You will be introduced to key tendencies in art and a wide variety of artistic media made since 1945, with a (non-exclusive) focus upon Europe and North America.




You will have the opportunity to work within a creative/cultural/media organisation for a semester. The module emphasises industry experience, sector awareness and personal development through a structured reflective learning experience. You will have the opportunity to work within your host organisations and undertake tasks that will help you to gain a better understanding of professional practices within your chosen sector. Your assessment tasks will provide you with an opportunity to critically reflect on the creative and cultural sector in which you have worked, as well as providing opportunities to undertake presentations, gather evidence, and articulate your newly acquired skills and experiences.




You will examine 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.



Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


Using a range of case studies from the Mediterranean World, you will be introduced to some of the most significant themes and debates in the archaeology of the Mediterranean, and archaeology more generally. Case studies will be drawn from a range of time periods and will address andquot;the big themesandquot; in archaeology, such as cultural transmission, cultural development, societal collapse, trade and exchange, conflict, migration, empire and expansion, the emergence of urban societies, climate and society, and ritual and religion. Often more than one theme will be included in a case study and your aim will be to understand how they relate to each other. For example, how does conflict or climate change contribute to migration or societal collapse?




You will begin 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 inter-disciplinary approach 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.




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. But was the Renaissance all that it seemed? We will reconsider some of the most famous (and infamous) artists and objects from renaissance Italy, questioning traditional assumptions about the nature and function of art during this period. Each week you will explore a selection of buildings, paintings, and sculpture alongside renaissance literature and modern theory, building a new and richer picture of this critical cultural moment.



Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


The art of ancient Egypt has been admired (and vilified), collected, and used as a source of inspiration for centuries, from Mozart's Magic Flute to the Harlem Renaissance to the Arab Spring. You will explore a number of themes in ancient Egyptian art, including the role of artists in ancient Egypt; art and religious rituals, such as mummification; and the impact of Egyptian art in the the Enlightenment, the age of colonial and imperial expansion, and up to the present day. You will visit at least one museum collection of Egyptian art (which varies depending on museum programming), and you will be able to develop a topic of special interest to you for your written coursework.




Born, bathed, dressed, worshipped, sexed, cut, bruised, ripped, split, buried: the human body offer historians a gateway onto understanding the cultures of the past. On this course you will examine several groups of objects from the visual culture of medieval Europe and the Middle East through this contemporary theoretical lens, building up a body of medieval artistic practice piece by bodily piece, and examining how the techniques and society of the medieval craftsman at once idolised and distorted the medieval body's forms. In previous years this course has also featured a study trip to museums and galleries in London to meet with curators and handle objects.



Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


You will explore 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.




Positioned at the hub of trade routes which spanned out across the known world, the city of Venice was a major commercial and political power during the medieval, renaissance, and early modern periods. It also grew to be one of Europe's most important centres of artistic production, with Venetian painters, sculptors, glassmakers, and architects channelling their city's diverse multiculturalism into a vast range of influential artworks. You will examine the development of art and architecture in the city from its earliest foundations through to the present day, tracing the aesthetic and urban history of what its inhabitants came to call andquot;La Serenissima,andquot; the most serene city on earth. In previous years this module has featured a study trip to Venice.



Students must study the following modules for 30 credits:

Name Code Credits


On this module you will undertake a research project on a topic related to your 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


Representations are not unconditional or without engagement. In this module, representation is not merely understood as praxis, but as praxis with agency. Following Alfred Gell's notion of the agency of art, we will consider representation as a process that not merely describes, displays and communicates, it also does. Clues to its agency lie in the processes from which it emanates and in which it eventuates. We will discuss contemporary views on the Pacific by particularly focusing on the role of visual and material culture in these representations. The aim is to promote a critical awareness of what artefacts socially do in the Pacific, to understand how they materialise relationships, are condensations of knowledge and how people use these forms to engage with their life worlds.




Intense debates rage around monuments that represent historical figures as our most celebrated heroes. But why are our monuments epicentres of public debate and political contestation? This module examines how and why public art and performances commemorate historical events. To find answers to these questions, you'll study the monuments that remember the First World War, the Holocaust, the Slave Trade and Colonialism. But you will also be encouraged to ask how memorials makes us remember and, indeed, whether there are alternative ways of remembering. You'll study commemoration in spirit possession, pilgrimage, and popular music. Considering case studies from across the world, you will review the role of memory and commemoration in the constitution of our society. This module encourages you to consider why alternative forms of memory are required for a more just society.




An altarpiece is dismembered and hung on a gallery wall, an ivory comb is locked within a display case, a manuscript closed in a museum. The way in which we encounter medieval artworks today is radically different from the time of their creation. What affects the ways in which we see these works now, and how were they seen when they were first created hundreds of years ago? Is it possible to look at Gothic art through 'Gothic eyes'? Merging science, faith, philosophy, and material histories, you will explore the changing experiences of viewing medieval art. The theme of 'vision' will be your guide through the a spectrum of medieval objects drawn from across northern Europe. Each week you will investigate a different theme # such as light, mirrors, space, veils, and dreams# in relation to a set of related artworks, medieval texts, and modern theories. As the course progresses, you will turn from actual vision to imagined vision, investigating how medieval artists pictured dreams, visions, and impossible things.



Students will select 30 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


In this module, you'll explore a variety of practical and conceptual considerations in Gallery and Museum Studies by focusing on specific aspects of these institutional structures: from building and housing collections, to curating shows, producing exhibition texts, and writing art criticism. You will then develop your engagement with the practice of conceiving, designing and mounting exhibitions, exploring both the conceptual demands of putting on a successful show and the practical considerations involved in doing so: from meeting artists in the studio, to transporting works, to making funding applications. Finally, we'll consider the role of interpretation and learning in galleries and museums practice, thinking also about how texts of various sorts operate in exhibitions and collections displays. The module has previously involved a study trip to London.




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.




In this module, you'll examine 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'll 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.



Students will select 30 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


Ancient Mesopotamia, what is now Iraq and parts of Iran, is recognisable today by two of its most impressive and powerful cultures, the Sumerians and the Assyrians. Situated between the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers, Mesopotamia remained largely autonomous for nearly 3000 years, during which time its power and influence over neighbouring regions ebbed and waned. At the heart of Mesopotamian society was competence and skill in a broad range of arts and crafts, but it is most famous for being the world's first literate society. Along with writing, the glue of Mesopotamian society was cultic practice and religious belief, most visibly attested to in the art of temples and burials. At all periods art was fundamental to Mesopotamian culture; it coloured their rituals and beliefs, it was integral to their writing system, and was used in both politics and warfare. You will explore the significance of artistic practice in the development of Mesopotamian society.




Mapping helps us to conceive of abstract concepts in tangible visual form. Be it geographical notions of the globe and the heavens, or more complex outlines of the body, the mind, time, even history, a map helps to bound and give features to otherwise inexplicable space and knowledge. This course uses historical maps and modern theories of cartography as the jumping-off point for an in-depth investigation of the visual and imaginative cultures of Europe and the Middle East from the prehistoric and classical eras through to the Middle Ages and Renaissance. In previous years this course has also featured a study trip to museums and galleries in London to meet with curators and handle objects.




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. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading

  • Cover Up

    Mummies' bodies tell historians a lot about ancient Egypt. At UEA we're unwrapping Egypt's past using a surprising source - mummies' bandages.

    Read it Cover Up
  • At A Crossroads

    Since 2011, researchers from UEA’s Sainsbury Research Unit have been conducting yearly archaeological field trips to the banks of the Niger River in northern Benin, West Africa, as part of the Crossroads of Empires research project.

    Read it At A Crossroads
  • Medieval Parish Churches of Norwich

    Fifty-eight parish churches are known to have stood within the walls of medieval Norwich. Despite damage and loss, thirty-one remain today, which is the largest concentration of urban medieval churches north of the Alps.

    Read it Medieval Parish Churches of Norwich
  • Spirits of Clay

    Dogu – the enigmatic, beautifully-sculpted clay figurines found abundantly throughout Japan – have fascinated archaeologists for over a century.

    Read it Spirits of Clay
  • Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

    The Sainsbury Centre is one of the most prominent university art galleries in Britain, and a major national centre for the study and presentation of art.

    Read it Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
  • The Mummy: what our obsession with ancient Egypt reveals

    Tut-mania reigned in the 1920s – and keeps returning to haunt us.

    Read it The Mummy: what our obsession with ancient Egypt reveals

    Your University questions, answered

    Read it #ASKUEA
  • UEA Award

    Develop your skills, build a strong CV and focus your extra-curricular activities while studying with our employer-valued UEA award.

    Read it UEA Award

Entry Requirements

  • A Level AAB
  • International Baccalaureate 33 points overall. If no GCSE equivalent is held, offer will include Mathematics and English requirements.
  • Scottish Highers Only accepted in combination with Scottish Advanced Highers.
  • Scottish Advanced Highers AAB. A combination of Advanced Highers and Highers may be acceptable
  • Irish Leaving Certificate 4 subjects at H2, and 2 subjects at H3
  • Access Course Distinction in 36 credits at Level 3 and Merit in 9 credits at Level 3. Humanities or Social Sciences pathway preferred. Other pathways are acceptable, please contact the University directly for further information.
  • BTEC DDD. BTEC Public Services is not accepted

Entry Requirement

UEA recognises that some students take a mixture of International Baccalaureate IB or International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme IBCP study rather than the full diploma, taking Higher levels in addition to A levels and/or BTEC qualifications. At UEA we do consider a combination of qualifications for entry, provided a minimum of three qualifications are taken at a higher Level. In addition some degree programmes require specific subjects at a higher 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 speaking, listening, reading and writing) at the following level:

  • IELTS: 6.5 overall (minimum 6.0 in any component)

We will also accept a number of other English language qualifications. Please click here for further information.

INTO University of East Anglia

If you do not meet the academic and/or English language requirements for this course, our partner INTO UEA offers guaranteed progression on to this undergraduate degree upon successful completion of a foundation programme. Depending on your interests and your qualifications you can take a variety of routes to this degree:

INTO UEA also offer a variety of English language programmes which are designed to help you develop the English skills necessary for successful undergraduate study:


Gap Year

We welcome applications from students who have already taken or intend to take a gap year.

We also welcome applications for deferred entry, believing 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 may wish to contact the appropriate Admissions Office directly to discuss this further.


This course's annual intake is in September of each year.

Alternative Qualifications

We welcome a wide range of qualifications - for further information please email

GCSE Offer

GCSE Requirements:  GCSE English Language grade 4 and GCSE Mathematics grade 4 or GCSE English Language grade C and GCSE Mathematics grade C.

Fees and Funding

Undergraduate University Fees and Financial Support

Tuition Fees

Information on tuition fees can be found here:

UK students

EU Students

Overseas Students

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. 

The University of East Anglia offers a range of Scholarships; please click the link for eligibility, details of how to apply and closing dates.

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

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515