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History of Art (Certificate of Higher Education)

Our History of Art Certificate of Higher Education is an ideal introduction to this fascinating subject area. We offer modules covering a range of historical periods and themes. So, whether you are interested in the Renaissance, the Victorian period or Modernism, you will have a choice of different modules that change 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. 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 our art history courses this year will be taught online, enabling you to expand your understanding of art and culture from the comfort of your own home. Classes are based around interactive live sessions in which you will be introduced to relevant themes and ideas and invited to explore these through various artworks.

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.

Our History of Art 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.


  • 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 most recent 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.
  • 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 History of Art 
  • BA History of Art with Curating 
  • BA History of Art with Film
  • BA Liberal Arts

To progress onto the BA History of Art, you should take Art History: A Survey and/or Material and Process in Art (each worth 30 credits) as one/two of your option modules.

Course structure

To gain the Certificate of Higher Education you must register on and successfully complete individual modules worth 120 credit points. One-week and one-term-long courses are worth 15 credits each and two-term courses are worth 30 credits each.

It is recommended that you start with the core module, Doing Art History (worth 30 credits). You then take option modules worth a further 90 credits.

You may also include option modules worth up to 30 credits from the Certificate of Higher Education in History and Archaeology and in Philosophy.

Most students complete the Certificate of Higher Education over two to four years. The programme 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 programme director, .

Module groups

You can take these modules as part of this certificate, or as standalone short courses.

  • 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. Art History: An Introduction 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 introductory 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 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.