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History of Art with Foundation Year (BA): 4-year, full-time

The BA History of Art at Birkbeck offers you the chance to study all kinds of artworks, from buildings to installations, sculpture to digital media, paintings to photography. You will take a range of courses, from medieval to contemporary art, learning how to place artworks within their historical and cultural context, and to think more broadly about the role of images within society. If you are contemplating a career in the arts, this course will give you the chance to develop a range of key skills, from critical thinking and writing, to effective visual analysis.

Before proceeding to the main degree, you will spend your Foundation Year preparing yourself for a degree in the arts by improving your study and research skills and gaining arts-related knowledge and understanding. You will also have the opportunity to take a language module as part of the Foundation Year.

Upon successful completion of the Foundation Year, you can automatically progress on to our three-year, full-time evening study BA History of Art.

Highlights

  • Our Foundation Year programmes will fully prepare you for undergraduate study. They are ideal if you are returning to study after a gap, if you have not previously studied the relevant subjects, or if you did not achieve the grades you needed for a place on your chosen undergraduate degree.
  • Arts and humanities at Birkbeck are ranked fifth best in London, 18th in the UK and 87th globally in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject.
  • Established almost half a century ago, Birkbeck's Department of History of Art is an internationally respected centre for research and teaching. Keep up to date with our activities on the Birkbeck History of Art blog. We offer information evenings for prospective students interested in our History of Art programmes throughout the year. As well as regular gallery and museum visits, we offer an exciting study trip abroad every spring.
  • 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.
  • We have a state-of-the-art cinema and exhibition spaces, all housed in a historic building that was a former home to key members of the Bloomsbury Group, including the author Virginia Woolf and the artist Vanessa Bell. See a video about our home in Gordon Square. Students are encouraged to become involved in the lively research culture of the Department through the Centre for Museum Studies, the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre, the Architecture, Space and Society Centre and the Vasari Research Centre, which has pioneered the field of digital art history.
  • The School of Arts is an official partner of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London. Opportunities for students have included a year’s free membership of the ICA, private views, discounts on all talks and events, free members' screenings and £3 cinema tickets on Tuesdays, up to 25% off ICA Artists' Editions and a monthly e-newsletter.

Course structure

For the Foundation Year, you undertake three core modules and choose one option module: either The Arts: Questioning the Contemporary World or a language module (1 or 2, depending on your prior knowledge of the language).

If you successfully complete these modules, you will automatically advance on to our three-year, full-time evening study BA History of Art.

Module groups

  • 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

    64

    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.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 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 full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. 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 courses (with the exception of some modules).

    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, Year 1: £9250 pa
    Full-time international students, Year 1: £14000 pa
    Full-time home/EU students, Year 2+: £9250 pa
    Full-time international students, Year 2+: £14000 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.

    TUITION FEE AND MAINTENANCE LOANS

    Eligible full-time and part-time students from the UK and the EU don’t have to pay any tuition fees upfront, as government loans are available to cover them.

    Maintenance loans are also available for eligible full-time and part-time UK students, to assist with covering living costs, such as accommodation, food, travel, books and study materials. From 2018, maintenance loans are available to part-time students for the first time. The amount you receive is means-tested and depends on where you live and study and your household income.

    Find out more about tuition fee and maintenance loans for full-time and part-time students at Birkbeck.

  • 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

    Lectures, seminars, gallery visits and field trips, hands-on workshops and individual tutorials.

    The Foundation Year is composed mainly of interactive lectures for large groups and tutorial-style classes that support the development of knowledge, skills, confidence and self-awareness.

    Staff teaching on 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.

    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 vary 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.

  • 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.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    If you are applying for a full-time undergraduate course at Birkbeck, you have to apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). To apply, go to the UCAS website and click on ‘Sign in’. You will have to register, giving UCAS a few personal details, including your name, address and date of birth, and then you can start working on your application.

    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.

    UCAS Code

    V35A

    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.