BA History of Art / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course description

Miriam Dafydd - BA Art History and Visual Studies

"My favourite thing was how close-knit the department feels.

"When I hear of my friends being on courses with hundreds of other students, I feel fortunate that I was one of just 60, which meant we all got to know each other by name, and it was easy to make a lot of friends."

Miriam Dafydd / 2017 graduate

BA History of Art is a wide-ranging and in-depth degree which explores art history and visual culture from the Medieval era to the present. 

The broad range of staff expertise offers you the opportunity to study a varied and exciting curriculum. 

As you progress to Years 2 and 3, you will select pathways of study that suit your individual interests. 

We offer a broad choice of subject areas, paired with in-depth study and research. 

Strengths are in Medieval, Renaissance, Post-Renaissance, Modern, Contemporary and Global art history.

Our curriculum includes a pathway devoted to curating and gallery studies. 

Topics covered include the museum as institution, collecting, practical aspects of curating and making exhibitions, and art writing.

Special features

Joseph Turner - Warwick Castle
Joseph Turner - Warwick Castle
Edvard Munch - The Lonely Ones
Edvard Munch - The Lonely Ones

Placement year option

Apply your subject-specific knowledge in a real-world context through a placement year in your third year of study, enabling you to enhance your employment prospects, clarify your career goals and build your external networks.

Overseas opportunities

We offer two unique summer internships at the world-famous Venice Peggy Guggenheim Collection. In your second year you'll go on a five-day field trip to a European city, such as Paris, Rome, Barcelona or Berlin. The trip combines guided tours and talks with independent research and culminates in an extended essay on your return to the UK.

You may also apply to spend one semester studying abroad during the second year of your degree. Exchange partners are offered via the Worldwide Exchange scheme, in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong or Singapore.

Extracurricular opportunities

Join our student society, the Manchester Art Group, which curates events, talks, exhibitions and trips, and aims to link up with contemporary art practice in Manchester and across the North West.

You could also join Arts Emergency, which aims to encourage the production of a new generation of thinkers by highlighting the reversal of decades of social and educational access to arts and humanities, or the Whitworth Young Contemporaries Student Society , which brings together students who have an interest in the arts, culture and creativity to make the Whitworth part of students' academic, cultural and social life.

Teaching and learning

Teaching takes place in a variety of formats, including lectures, small seminar groups, workshops, gallery visits, and one-to-one tutorials. 

Seminars are normally very interactive - you may be given reading in advance that will form the basis of a class discussion and you will be expected to contribute occasional oral presentations, building your skills and confidence in presentation techniques. 

Some course units feature group projects culminating in online content development or a physical exhibition/display. 

Classroom time is frequently supplemented by new media, such as the virtual learning environment, Blackboard. 

You will also have access to other digital resources to support your learning. 

Many of our courses include fieldwork visits to galleries or special exhibitions throughout the UK. 

This means regular classes in Manchester at places like HOME , the City Art Gallery and the University's own Whitworth Art Gallery

We offer several travel bursaries through the Lady Chorley Fund to assist final-year students with their dissertation research. 

You will spend approximately 12 hours a week in formal study sessions. 

For every hour spent at University, you will be expected to complete a further two to three hours of independent study.

You will also need to study during the holiday periods. 

The individual study component could be spent reading, producing written work, or revising for examinations.

Coursework and assessment

You will be assessed in various ways, including:

  • written and oral examinations;
  • coursework essays;
  • research reports;
  • practical tests;
  • learning logs;
  • web contributions;
  • small-scale practical assignments;
  • seminar presentations and participation;
  • library research, linguistic fieldwork and data collection.

Many course units are assessed through a mixture of techniques.

In your final year, you can choose to write a dissertation.

Written feedback is provided in the form of essay and exam cover sheets and, in the case of orally delivered seminar papers, a verbal report from the tutor. We provide feedback on both the content of your writing and the construction and clarity of the argument posed.

As a student here you'll gain both academic writing skills and insight into the development of arts-specific composition, such as catalogue entries, gallery interpretation, exhibition reviews and journalistic articles.

Course tutors are available without appointment in their office hours twice a week outside scheduled teaching hours, allowing you to gain advice and feedback on your work.

Course content for year 1

This is a foundation year that introduces key art historical concepts and methods of analysis and interpretation as well as skills in academic writing. 

It includes a substantial amount of gallery-based teaching. 

In your first year you will follow five main course units. 

The lecture/seminar courses 'Art Works in History' (1 and 2) and 'Art Spaces' are designed to familiarise you with a range of materials from the ancient world to the present from around the world; they will also introduce you to the institutional and other spaces that mediate the reception of art, from the Renaissance to the present, from art academies, to the rise of the museum, through to art fairs and biennials. 

Lectures are complemented by weekly `Art History Tutorial' seminar courses, which run in both semesters. 

These courses offer interactive, personalised learning in small groups on a range of topics designed to refine critical and writing skills, and to introduce current issues in Art History. 

Finally, you must take one outside course unit from a wide-ranging selection of courses in other disciplines.

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Art Spaces AHCP10051 20 Mandatory
Art History Tutorial 1 AHCP10381 20 Mandatory
Art History Tutorial 2 AHCP10382 20 Mandatory
Ice Age to Baroque: Artworks in History SALC10041 20 Mandatory
Rococo to Now: Artworks in History SALC10042 20 Mandatory
Cultural and Creative Industries SALC10402 20 Optional
Introduction to World Cinema SALC11002 20 Optional

Course content for year 2

In second year, you take a mix of core and optional course units. 

The objective is to provide you with a deeper understanding of theories and approaches in the study of art history, and a broad-based knowledge of both pre-modern and modern art, architecture and visual culture. 

You will learn about different historical periods in the optional courses.

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Art in Theory AHCP20432 20 Mandatory
European Art History Fieldtrip AHCP20701 20 Mandatory
Art in Britain AHCP20221 20 Optional
Art in South Asia AHCP20802 20 Optional
Renaissance and Baroque Architecture 1450-1750 AHCP22121 20 Optional
The Neo-Avant-Garde and the Crisis of Medium, 1945-1974 AHCP22811 20 Optional
Art in Vienna 1880-1938 AHCP24102 20 Optional
Digital Ways of Seeing: Theory and Practice AHCP24232 20 Optional
The Italian Renaissance ITAL21011 20 Optional
Core Themes in Animated Film and Visual Culture of Postwar Japan JAPA20131 20 Optional

Course content for year 3

In the third year you take two seminar courses each semester, allowing you in-depth contact with a wide range of subjects (many of which are the specialist areas of the members of teaching staff). 

These 'Option' courses are focused on an area of study defined by genre, artistic identity, medium or approach. 

They are taught in small groups and encourage participation and active learning. 

Finally, you will also write a dissertation of 10,000-12,000 words on a topic of your own choosing. 

The dissertation, supervised by a member of staff, gives you the chance to research a subject in depth and helps you to refine your research and study skills. 

It also gives you the skills necessary to organise a coherent argument over a long piece of writing. 

Your four option course units will be chosen from a wide array of choices.

Course units for year 3

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
History of Art Dissertation AHCP30000 40 Mandatory
The English Baroque: Architecture and Society 1660-1730 AHCP30011 20 Optional
Art and Ecologies AHCP30052 20 Optional
The Global Renaissance AHCP30551 20 Optional
Art After Modernism: Approaching Contemporary Art AHCP30561 20 Optional
Picasso AHCP33132 20 Optional
The Art of Medieval Manuscripts AHCP33612 20 Optional
Producing Digital Projects AHCP33922 20 Optional
Travellers' Tales: Italy in the British Imagination ITAL30582 20 Optional
Global Cultural and Creative Industries SALC30402 220 Optional

What our students say

What impressed me most about studying here is the amount and quality of support that the staff provided throughout my course.

Whether you go to see them about personal or academic issues, they always have time for you.

Michaela Blackburn, BA (Hons) History of Art

My favourite thing was how close-knit the department feels.

When I hear of my friends being on courses with hundreds of other students, I feel fortunate that I was one of just 60, which meant we all got to know each other by name, and it was easy to make a lot of friends.

Miriam Dafydd (pictured), BA (Hons) History of Art

Studying History of Art in Manchester has been an amazing experience. The University has a partnership with my university in China and when I heard about what the course offered, I just had to take part!

I have been exposed to various artists, works, stories and ideas. They have really changed my views of the world. Now I understand art and artworks more. They are full of fun and not that mysterious.

I found the lecturers to be super approachable, it's made studying at the University a superb experience.

Anran Zhao, BA (Hons) History of Art

From career events and placements at local galleries to the amazing internship at the Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Manchester really helps students to acquire the essential skills employers look for.

It's my first year and I have already started an Internship at the Whitworth Art Gallery as a member of the curatorial team for a new exhibition.

Francesca Casaburi, BA (Hons) History of Art with French Studies

Facilities

Whitworth Art Gallery Exterior
Whitworth Art Gallery Exterior
John Rylands Library
John Rylands Library

The rich cultural heritage and attractions of Manchester and the north-west are within easy reach. 

The Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery offer unique access to the environment of the working museum and art gallery, as well as to important works of art. 

The Whitworth is a major resource, and its outstanding collections of paintings, prints, textiles and wallpapers are used extensively in our teaching. It is also home to collections from world-renowned artists such as Blake, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Munch and others.

You can also explore original art in the city's famous galleries, such as the Lowry, Manchester Art Gallery and the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art. 

The main library provision is the University Library, one of the UK's top university libraries with arguably the best access to electronic resources of any library in Europe. 

This is one of the largest academic libraries in Britain and houses a Special Collections Department on Deansgate which contains a superb and diverse collection of manuscripts, illustrated books and other material relevant to Art History. 

Art History students also enjoy a discipline-specific library in the same building as our department. 

It provides a pleasant and quiet working environment for students, with access to the most used publications. 

A convenient and comfortable study environment, it also houses a very large, well-organised slide, video and computer-based image collection. 

Learn more on the Facilities page.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants from the Disability Support Office. Email: disability@manchester.ac.uk