History of Art (Certificate of Higher Education)

If you would like to learn more about the history of art, then this introductory course is ideal. We offer modules covering a range of historical periods and themes. So, whether you are interested in medieval imagery, the Italian Renaissance, the Victorian period or contemporary art installations, you will have a varied choice that changes each year. 

Our modules offer informative and enjoyable introductions to the skills and ideas shaping the study of art history. They are led by experienced and enthusiastic lecturers and teaching is rigorous and engaging. Modules often include visits to galleries or other places of interest, while others also include study trips abroad. Some of our modules are taught as part of our undergraduate degrees, so you can study alongside first-year undergraduates and get a real sense of what it's like to study history of art at university.


  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked fourth best in London and 18th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2017-2018 World University Subject Rankings.
  • With its RIBA award-winning cinema and the Peltz Gallery, a specially designed small exhibition space, Birkbeck’s School of Arts provides students with a lively cultural hub in central London, in a historic building that was home to key members of the Bloomsbury Group including Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. 
  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Art and Design at Birkbeck achieved 100% for a research environment supporting world-leading or internationally excellent research.
  • With our location in Bloomsbury in central London, you can explore some of the world's best architecture, galleries and museums, collections and arts spaces - many of which are on our doorstep or a short distance away.
  • The Department of History of Art has been delighted to receive grant aid from the Royal Female School of Art Foundation to help support students on (or applying to study) the Certificate of Higher Education or BA History of Art programmes who are suffering short-term financial hardship.
  • We offer information evenings for prospective students interested in our history of art programmes throughout the year.

Progression to degrees at Birkbeck

Successful completion of this Certificate of Higher Education allows you to progress directly into the second year of the following undergraduate degrees at Birkbeck:

  • BA Arts and Humanities 
  • BA History of Art 
  • BA History of Art with Curating 
  • BA History of Art with Film

To progress onto the BA History of Art, you should take Introduction to Modern Art (worth 30 credits) as one of your option modules. 

To progress onto the BA Arts and Humanities, you should take Key Concepts in Cultural Analysis: The Production of the Human (worth 30 credits) as one of your option modules. 

Course structure

To gain the Certificate of Higher Education, you must successfully complete modules worth 120 credit points.

It is recommended that you start with the core module, Foundation in History of Art (worth 30 credits).

Then you take modules worth a further 90 credits from among the other courses offered as part of the programme. The links below take you to the course pages of the different modules on offer this year, where you can find further information on fees, and course timetables and syllabus.

Module groups

All of our modules form part of the Certificate of Higher Education, including modules that are part of the BA programme and which you study alongside undergraduate students.

You may also include modules worth up to 30 credits (excluding core modules) from the Certificates of Higher Education in History and Archaeology and in Philosophy.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    None. However, all modules are taught at university level and you should be able to read, write and speak English fluently. If you need help, we offer a range of academic English and language development modules.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months’ duration.
    • Courses of less than six months’ duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our three-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees, as these are classified as full-time study and qualify for student visa status. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time evening study degrees.

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • Fees


    Fees are payable per module and vary depending on the course. Please view the Course Structure and then click on the title of individual modules to see the fees for each module. The overall cost of the certificate will depend on the modules you choose. 

    If you intend to fund this certificate via a student loan, this may affect your entitlement for future full-time funding. Find out more about funding your studies with a student loan.

  • Teaching and assessment


    Our courses are taught at first-year university level, but designed for students with no prior knowledge of art history. The Foundation in History of Art is intended as an introduction to both the subject and the skills necessary for further study.

    Courses are taught in seminar groups of 12-20 students. Teaching is varied and may include interactive lectures, class discussion, set readings, group work and class visits. Some modules include visits or study trips abroad.



    Assessment is substantially by means of coursework essays. The foundation course introduces you to the skills of academic essay writing. Each essay receives careful feedback to enable you to improve as you progress through the award. Other means of assessment include class presentations and, for those modules that are also part of the BA programme, end-of-year examinations. 

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Our students develop the ability to think critically and creatively, and to articulate their ideas persuasively. Intellectual rigour, visual sensitivity and informed debate are fundamental to the discipline of history of art, as well as being transferable skills relevant to a range of careers. 

    Graduates can pursue jobs in arts management, conservation and policy, in education, marketing and publishing, in the museums and heritage sectors, and in research and academia.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    This is a modular enrolment certificate, so you will need to enrol onto individual modules (rather than onto the entire programme of study). Please view the Course Structure and then click on the title of individual modules to see class dates and times and to enrol.