History of Art and History (BA): 3-year, full-time

The past, and the visual art it has bequeathed to us, continues to fascinate. This is richly evident in media productions, the thriving heritage sector, and record visitor numbers to galleries and museums. This wide-ranging BA in History of Art and History will take you from the ancient world through to the present day.

You will explore social, cultural, intellectual and political histories, and develop your understanding of  visual culture within those contexts. You will acquire the analytical skills and critical approaches that enable you to investigate both texts and images for yourself, and to develop your competence in visual perception and historical interpretation.

This course is also available for part-time evening study over four years and part-time evening study over six years.

We offer information evenings for prospective students interested in our History of Art programmes throughout the year.

Highlights

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • See videos of our students and staff talking about this programme, and our home in Gordon Square.
  • You will benefit from small, highly interactive classes, alongside students of different ages and from various walks of life. You can take advantage of field trips, including an annual visit to a European city, which takes place in the Easter vacation.
  • As a student here, you'll be invited to a dynamic range of events, many of which are organised through our research centres, including the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre; Architecture, Space and Society Network; Vasari Research Centre for Art and Technology; the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism; the Raphael Samuel History Centre; the Institute of Historical Research; and the Institute of Classical Studies. These give you access to some of the foremost figures in the discipline, and insight into the most recent and up-to-date research.
  • Our graduates have gone on to a range of impressive careers, working as arts officers, producers and directors, public relations professionals, secondary and further education teaching professionals, university researchers and lecturers, museum and gallery marketing and sales directors, curators, journalists, and civil servants.

Course structure

This BA programme is a modular degree involving a combination of compulsory and option modules. Each module is worth 30 credits and you take 12 modules over three years, to a total of 360 credits. You take modules in both History and History of Art, which provide you with key study and research skills in those disciplines. Option modules allow you to select areas of specialism and to learn about certain topics and periods in depth. In your final year, you will submit a dissertation on a topic of your choosing.

In Year 1, you take two compulsory History of Art modules at Level  4 and choose two option modules in History, one at Level 4 and one at Level 5.

In Year 2, you take one compulsory module in History of Art at Level 4, choose one compulsory research skills for dissertations module (in either History, or History of Art, depending on which subject you wish your dissertation to focus on), choose one option module in History of Art at Level 5 and choose one option module in History at Level 5.

In Year 3 the pattern of study depends on whether you choose to complete the dissertation in History of Art or History. The History of Art dissertation at Level 6 is a single module of 30 credits and is studied alongside one History of Art option module at Level 6 and two History option modules at Level 6. The History dissertation at Level 6 is a double module of 60 credits and is studied alongside two History of Art option modules at Level 6 or one History of Art option module at Level 6 and one option module in History at Level 6.

Module groups

Year 1 compulsory modules

Year 2 compulsory modules

Indicative Level 4 History option modules

Level 5 History of Art option modules (choose one)

Indicative Level 5 History option modules

Indicative Level 6 History of Art option modules

Indicative Level 6 History option modules

BA History of Art with History dissertation (choose one)

You may also select options from another programme at Birkbeck, or taken on an intercollegiate basis at another College of the University of London. Programme Director approval is required in order to take such modules.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    We welcome applicants without traditional entry qualifications, as we base decisions on our own assessment of qualifications, knowledge and previous work experience. We may waive formal entry requirements based on judgement of academic potential.

    UCAS tariff points

    112

    The UCAS tariff score is applicable to you if you have recently studied a qualification that has a UCAS tariff equivalence. UCAS provides a tariff calculator for you to work out what your qualification is worth within the UCAS tariff.

    Foundation Year Degrees

    You can progress onto this degree if you successfully complete the foundation year of our BA Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year course. This is an ideal route onto an undergraduate degree if you are returning to study after a gap, or if you have not previously studied this subject, or if you didn't achieve the grades you need for a place on this degree.

    Certificates of Higher Education

    Students who successfully complete Birkbeck's Certificate of Higher Education in History of Art are guaranteed a place on this BA, with the possibility of exemption from the first-year modules. Applicants in this position do not need to complete an admissions exercise.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don’t meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    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.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees

    Fees

    Full-time home/EU students: £ 9250 pa
    Full-time international students: £ 13350 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    Additional costs

    As well as fees, you should expect to pay other study-related expenses, for travel to and from College, books, stationery, etc. Birkbeck provides advice and financial support for students who experience hardship in meeting the travel costs of essential fieldwork or study visits.

    On this programme, you will also have to pay for the following additional costs:

    An optional field trip is available as part of this programme, for which the Department does not charge a fee for attendance. Students are, however, responsible for paying all other costs, including travel, accommodation, food and drink and other subsistence costs, gallery fees, etc. The Murray Bequest offers a limited number of bursaries every year to students who would not otherwise be able to take the field trip. Details on how to apply are usually circulated to students in December or January.

  • Teaching and assessment

    Teaching

    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

    In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    While some of our students have studied art history and/or history at school or have completed short courses, most haven't studied these subjects in any depth prior to starting this course. The first-year modules are therefore intended to provide you with academic skills and a good grounding in the disciplines. As you progress through the course, you will have opportunities to explore different historical periods, themes and topics and different types of visual culture in more detail - from buildings to installations, sculpture to digital media, paintings to photography.

    We use a variety of formal and informal teaching methods, including lectures, seminars, workshops, gallery visits, group and individual tutorials, and field trips.

    Gallery and museum visits, attached to particular modules, mostly take place during weekends, in term time. Some of these are self-guided, while others are tutor led. There is also an annual History of Art study trip abroad (this has been to Rome, Paris and Berlin in recent years) during the Easter break.

    Find out more about the teaching staff for this course.

    Contact hours

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Alongside this, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and fieldtrips.

    On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students are encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies, but you may have limited or no face-to-face contact with your module tutors.

    The following information gives an indication of how many contact hours you can expect for each year of this course:

    Year Contact hours
    1 144
    2 144
    3 84

    Timetables

    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

    Study skills and additional support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

    Assessment

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Our assessment methods are equally varied, ranging from essays and examinations to research portfolios and oral presentations, so as to develop a range of subject-specific and transferable skills. The programme culminates in a 10,000-word dissertation on a chosen topic.

    All our classes are held in the evening, to enable you to continue your career - or gain valuable intern or work experience - during the day.

    Breakdown of assessment on this course

    The balance of assessment by examination and assessment by coursework will often depend on the option modules you choose. The approximate percentages for this course are as follows:

    Year % Exams % Practical % Coursework
    1 75 0 25
    2 50 0 50
    3 33 0 67
  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Our students develop the ability to think critically and creatively, and to articulate their ideas persuasively. Intellectual rigor, 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.

    Jobs gained by some of our BA and MA graduates include:

    • Head of Learning, Design Museum
    • Curator, Schools Programmes, Tate Modern
    • Curatorial Assistant, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
    • Curatorial Officer, National Army Museum
    • Head of Campaign Management, Science Museum
    • Curator, Handel House Museum
    • Head Curator, National Maritime Museum
    • Director, Foundling Museum
    • Curator, British Art 1850-1915, Tate Britain
    • Courses and Events Programmer, National Gallery.

    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.

    Graduate Destinations

    Average salary six months after the course: £28000

    Go on to work and/or study:

    Go on to work and/or study
    Now working: 60%
    Doing further study: 25%
    Studying and working: 0%
    Unemployed: 5%
    Other: 5%

    Read more of the statistics for this course on the Unistats website.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    If you are applying for a three-year, full-time undergraduate degree at Birkbeck, you have to apply through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). To apply, go to the UCAS homepage and click on 'Apply and Track'. You will have to register, giving UCAS a few personal details, including your name, address and date of birth, and then you complete an application form.

    Birkbeck offers a range of free face-to-face advice and support to help you make a successful application.

    Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.

    The Department of History of Art typically has some bursary funding available from its annual application to the Royal Female School of Art Foundation, which supports undergraduate students who are experiencing short-term financial hardship.

    Bursaries are available through the Murray Bequest to help students fund their place on the annual History of Art study trip abroad (this has been to Rome, Paris and Berlin in recent years) during the Easter break.

    UCAS Code

    VV11

    Application deadlines and interviews

    15 January is the first UCAS deadline and the majority of university applications through UCAS are made by then. We welcome applications outside of the UCAS deadlines, so you can still apply through UCAS after 15 January, depending on the availability of places. We also take late applications via the UCAS Clearing system in August.

    Read more about key dates for UCAS applicants.