BA History of Art / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

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
Students Observing Collections
Anne Anderton leads seminar on rare Romantic and Victorian materials in the Special Collections, Rylands Library for level two Art History students.

BA History of Art is a wide-ranging degree which explores art history and visual culture from the Medieval era to the present. As you progress to Years 2 and 3, you will select pathways of study that suit your individual interests.

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

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.

We also benefit from the expertise of staff within the Institute of Cultural Practice and several course units include study of the museum as institution, collecting, practical aspects of curating and making exhibitions, and art writing.

Special features

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.

* If overseas travel is affected by restrictions due to public health concerns related to the pandemic, suitable alternative arrangements may be provided. 

Extracurricular opportunities

Join student societies including the Manchester Art Group , Arts Emergency and the Whitworth Young Contemporaries Student Society , who all aim to bring together students who have an interest in the arts, culture and creativity and encourage the production of a new generation of thinkers.

Teaching and learning

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

Our aim throughout is to support your interests and to help you to improve your skills and become confident independent learners.

Seminars are normally very interactive, they are an opportunity for you to discuss readings and ideas in a supportive environment and to build your skills and confidence. Some course units feature group projects culminating in online content development or a physical exhibition/display.

Your learning will be supported by material on our virtual learning environment, Blackboard, including access to core texts and recorded lectures.

Where possible 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.

Coursework and assessment

We use assessments including essays, exams, presentations, small-scale practical assignments, and learning logs - designed to help you develop a range of skills. Many course units are assessed through a mixture of techniques. In your final year, you will write a dissertation on a subject of your choice.

Throughout, you will benefit from expert support and supervision provided by lecturers and professors who are authorities on their subjects.

You will get written and verbal feedback and will be able to meet with your tutors on a one-to-one basis to discuss your progress. 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 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

Facilities

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.

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 (the John Rylands Library) on Deansgate which contains an internationally important 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 providing a pleasant and quiet working environment for students.

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