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Art History (Certificate of Higher Education)

This Art History Certificate of Higher Education gives you an ideal introduction to this fascinating subject area. Our modules offer you 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. You will learn to look in detail at a range of art works, paintings, sculptures, architecture and photography, and gain understanding in the interpretation and discussion of art.

All of our art history courses are taught on campus, enabling you to expand your understanding of art and culture in a supportive classroom environment. Classes are based around interactive lectures in which you will be introduced to relevant themes and ideas and invited to explore these through various artworks.

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 art history at university.

This Art History Certificate of Higher Education gives you the opportunity to:

  • develop knowledge and understanding of the history of art
  • gain expert experience of art objects and images
  • develop your critical analysis and judgement
  • gain experience of close textual analysis of different kinds of art historical writing
  • develop your understanding of the importance of context and the relationship of art history to other disciplines such as literature, social history, film and visual media and the history of ideas.

You can enrol directly onto any of our modules without any prior knowledge of art history. The core course is Doing Art History and it is recommended you start with this if you are new to art history.


  • Birkbeck was ranked as one of the top four universities in the UK for its Art and Design research in the most recent 2021 Research Excellence Framework.
  • Our RIBA-award-winning cinema and Peltz Gallery, a specially designed small exhibition space, provide 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.
  • 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.
  • We offer information evenings throughout the year for prospective students interested in our art history courses.

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 Art History
  • BA Art History with Curating 
  • BA Liberal Arts

To progress onto the BA Art History, you should choose The Artwork in History and Debates in Art History as two of your three options in addition to the core module Doing Art History.

Course structure

To gain the Certificate of Higher Education you must register on and successfully complete individual modules worth 120 credits, consisting of:

  • one core module (30 credits)
  • three option modules (90 credits).

Most students complete the Certificate of Higher Education over two to four years. The course is flexible, so you can enrol on available courses as and when it suits you.

If you have any questions or need help enrolling, please email the course director, .

Module groups

  • 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 UK and you do not already have residency here, 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: Student visa
    • Courses of less than six months' duration: Standard Visitor visa

    International students who require a Student visa should apply for our full-time courses as these qualify for Student visa sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Student 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.

    Please also visit the international section of our website to find out more about relevant requirements by country.

  • 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. 

    Please note: if you intend to study this certificate part-time and fund your studies 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. Doing Art History 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. 


    Assessment on this course is mostly via coursework essays. Doing Art History 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 take-home, end-of-year examinations.

    For more specific details of assessment, please see each individual module. 

  • 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 career paths in:

    • arts management
    • conservation and policy
    • education
    • marketing and publishing
    • the museums and heritage sectors
    • research and academia.

    We offer a comprehensive careers service - Careers and Enterprise - your career partner during your time at Birkbeck and beyond. At every stage of your career journey, we empower you to take ownership of your future, helping you to make the connection between your experience, education and future ambitions.

  • 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 course). Please view the Course Structure and then click on the title of individual modules to see class dates and times and to enrol.