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BA (Hons) History of Art

  • UCAS
    V350
  • Entry requirements
    A-level: ABB
    BTEC: DDM
    IB: 33 points including three HL subjects
  • Length
    3 years full-time
  • Department
    Visual Cultures

Course overview

This degree encourages you to develop an independent critical involvement with works of art and visual culture, to examine changing historical conceptions of art and the artist, and to explore the visual arts in their wider cultural and political contexts.

Why study BA History of Art at Goldsmiths?

  • We approach the subject from a fresh perspective, emphasising important themes and areas of debate, rather than chronology
  • You'll investigate modern and contemporary art, art theory and visual culture from around the world
  • We'll introduce you to visual culture – not only the kinds of artefacts you might see in museums and art galleries, but those that make up our everyday environment: these include things like architecture, city and landscapes, adverts, TV and film, websites, the body, and street style
  • Staff are passionate about the subject and are at the sharp end of theoretical developments in the field, which makes the degree relevant and exciting
  • Our teaching takes advantage of the many galleries, art spaces, museums, cultural facilities and specialist libraries in London
  • Our 'Visual Cultures as Public Practice' module gives you the opportunity to link your studies to many interesting public institutions, including the V&AThe Live Art Development AgencyHackney Museum, and the Zoo
  • You'll develop key communication and presentation skills, and the ability to think creatively and critically.
  • We encourage you to get involved in student-led activities and personal development projects
  • Many of our recent graduates are now working as curators and exhibition managers with employers including Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert Museum and Edinburgh Castle, while others enter creative fields such as journalism and marketing. Find out where life has taken our alumni on our interactive world map

Follow us on Instagram at instagram.com/goldsmithsvcs

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Brendan Prendeville

Modules & structure

Level 4

On the BA History of Art you will develop an independent critical involvement with works of art and visual culture. Our first year modules enable you to examine changing conceptions of art and the artist, historically and also in terms of context, ideas, and kinds of practice.

In summary, your first year will introduce you to history of art as a discipline. And engage you in discussion of key aspects of contemporary visual culture – including not just artefacts in museums and art galleries, but also architecture, cityscape and landscape, adverts, TV and film, websites, the body, and street style.

Each of our first year modules is taught by a team of four or five different teachers from the permanent faculty. Our approach to learning, teaching and research is exploratory, innovative and rigorous. In this way, first year students soon get to know many of the Department’s core academic staff. You will therefore begin your second year with both rich insights from and a comprehensive overview of Department life as a whole.

Module title Credits
  Modernities 30 credits
  Seeing and Showing 30 credits
  Space and Time 30 credits
  30 credits

Our second and third year modules are also thematic in content, and the themes relate to five pathways running through the programme:

  • Art and ideas
  • Space and place
  • The Curatorial
  • Sound and image
  • Embodiment

Individual modules are identified with one or more of these pathways, to help you in defining your special areas of interest as you proceed.

Level 5

You take four options modules. At least three must be History of Art option modules. These include:

  • Beckett and Aesthetics
  • Cohabitations/Inhbitations
  • Art and Technologies of the Image
  • The Fact of Blackness
  • Fashion as a Dialectical image
  • Ornamentation and Materiality
  • Museums, Galleries, Exhibitions
  • Popular Modernism
  • Patterns of Perception
  • Postmodernities
  • Radical Imagination & Speculative Voyages

Your fourth option module could be a History of Art module, or a Related Study module from another department within Goldsmiths.

Level 6

You take two History of Art special subjects and a third module which may be a further History of Art special subject or an option module or a Related Study. You also write an 8,000 – 10,000 word Dissertation on a topic of your own choice supervised by a tutor. Special Subjects include:

  • Animating Architecture
  • Archive & Spectacle
  • Autobiographies
  • Curating
  • Fictioning
  • Film Fables and Documentary Lives
  • Forming the Commons
  • Philosophy and...
  • Sexual Poetics
  • The Truth in Painting

Placements

Link your studies to one of the many interesting public institutions through our 'Visual Cultures as Public Practice' module. Your research project could be based at the V&A, The Live Art Development Agency, Iniva, Hackney Museum, the Zoo, amongst many others.

Assessment

Essays, research files, creative journals, and a dissertation.

Credits and levels of learning

An undergraduate honours degree is made up of 360 credits – 120 at Level 4, 120 at Level 5 and 120 at Level 6. If you are a full-time student, you will usually take Level 4 modules in the first year, Level 5 in the second, and Level 6 modules in your final year. A standard module is worth 30 credits. Some programmes also contain 15-credit half modules or can be made up of higher-value parts, such as a dissertation or a Major Project.

Download the programme specification for this degree to find out more about what you'll learn and how you'll be taught and assessed.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Entry requirements

A-level: ABB
BTEC: DDM
International Baccalaureate: 33 points including three HL subjects

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of qualifications equivalent to the ones listed above. This includes:

Access: Pass with 45 Level 3 credits including distinctions/merits in subject specific modules
Scottish qualifications: ABBBC (Higher), ABC (Advanced Higher)
European Baccalaureate: 77%, you also need to show an interest in and aptitude for Art History
Irish Leaving Certificate: A1 A1 A2 B1

If your qualifications are from another country, find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us. 

For this programme we require:

IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.5 in the written test and no individual test lower than 6.0)

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for degree-level study.

Read more about our general entrance requirements

Department

In the Department of Visual Cultures we explore and produce
new forms of art history and theory

Visual Cultures

Study in a department that combines an innovative approach with passionate academics, and makes full use of London's many opportunities to study art history and curating.

Our approach

Our degree programmes deliberately move away from chronological histories: the innovative art of our time arises out of the conflict of ideas. So you’ll explore the subject in the context of pertinent social, cultural and political issues and phenomena.

That means not only investigating artefacts you might see in museums and galleries, but also those making up our everyday visual and technological environment: including urban landscapes, film and video, and popular culture.

Our academics

Our academics are passionate about the subject and are at the sharp end of theoretical developments in everything from architecture to spatial theory. Some are practising artists and curators, which makes our degrees relevant and exciting.

Our location

Our teaching takes advantage of the many galleries, art spaces, museums, cultural facilities and specialist libraries in London.

Find out more about the Department of Visual Cultures.

Learning & teaching

On this degree you'll attend lectures and seminars where you'll hear about ideas and concepts related to specific topics, and where you'll be encouraged to discuss and debate the issues raised. This will enhance your academic knowledge of the subject, and will improve your communication skills.

But this is just a small proportion of what we expect you to do on the degree. For each hour of taught learning in lectures and seminars, we expect you to complete another 5-6 hours of independent study. This typically involves carrying out required and additional reading, preparing topics for discussion, or producing essays or project work.

This emphasis on independent learning is very important at Goldsmiths. We don't just want you to accept what we tell you without question. We want you to be inspired to read more, to develop your own ideas, and to find the evidence that will back them up. Independent study requires excellent motivation and time management skills. These skills will stay with you for life, and are the kind of that are highly sought after by employers. 

Learning and teaching on this degree will take place through:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Independent learning
  • Presentations
  • Assessments

Find out more about these learning and teaching approaches.

Skills & careers

Skills

Our degrees develop your critical and analytical skills with respect to modern and contemporary art, ideas and visual culture. More generally, they also develop your ability to express ideas clearly and your expertise in gathering insights from a range of subjects.

Careers

These skills are all appropriate to careers in museums and galleries as administrators or curators, as artists or art historians/ theoreticians, in journalism and the media, teaching and research and the commercial world. Indeed, many of our alumni are active in the contemporary art world, whether working for major art and cultural institutions, or having set up cultural initiatives of their own. You can read more about the career options open to you on our dedicated Visual Cultures careers page.

Alongside our lecture and seminar programmes, we run a series of events and workshops specifically aimed to help students prepare for their future directions.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths

Student profiles

Yat Lun Yo

"The intellectual and artistic experiences have nurtured me into a richer and more thoughtful art worker."

"The degree equipped me with the appropriate knowledge and skills to share history of art and ways of creating art with the others. The programme has widened my horizon of arts and enhanced the development of my own thinking. The intellectual and artistic experiences have nurtured me into a richer and more thoughtful art worker. 

I'm now Adjunct Lecturer at HKU SPACE, and a part-time Lecturer at the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. I share drawing, painting, combined media and theories of the history of art."

Julia Alvarez

"Goldsmiths helped me to develop the skills required to operate both in the contemporary art world and work with local government and other businesses to build art into the fabric of society."

"I'm responsible for the overall running of BEARSPACE Gallery from selecting and promoting artists to managing staff. BEARSPACE regularly shows as part of art fairs and larger international projects and I am ultimately responsible for the success and development of the business. The South London Art map was started as a promotional tool for galleries in Deptford and now represents over 150 galleries and studios in Deptford, running tours and SLAM Fridays events to lobbying government for the needs of art organisations.

Goldsmiths helped me to develop the skills required to operate both in the contemporary art world and work with local government and other businesses to build art into the fabric of society. Whilst at Goldsmiths I also worked as an intern for other local galleries which gave me practical experience of the day to day running of a gallery. I am still in contact with my peers some of whom are artists, gallerists or academics in the arts. I have also been asked to return to Goldsmiths to give talks on professional development, and work on joint projects with academic departments."

Carolina

"After graduation I worked for a gallery and at ArtBO, Bogotá’s art fair. I met many gallery owners and artists."

"It has been seven years since I graduated from the BA. I actually wanted to continue with an MA after I finished the BA; I was completely taken with my chosen career but sometimes things don’t quite work out as you plan them so in the end, I couldn’t accept the offers that I had for MAs and instead had to get a full time job. I ended up working in the area of fundraising for five years, more specifically donor data management, and although I enjoyed it and learned a lot, I always knew that I had to continue with the plan that I left behind.

Two years ago, I moved to Colombia with the view of embarking on an MA in Latin American Art, as it kind of made sense studying a ‘topic’ in ‘context’. Here I worked for an important gallery and was able to work at ArtBO, Bogotá’s art fair, which is pretty new in the circuit but it already features as one of the most poignant. Without me realising, the fair ended up being an excellent networking place and I had the opportunity to meet various people, mostly gallery owners and artists from around the continent. Although Colombia’s contemporary art scene is up and coming, there are not a lot of options to pursue an academic career; hence I have decided to do my MA in Buenos Aires.

Argentina seems to have a much older and prestigious academic tradition in the field of the arts and humanities so the offer there is pretty interesting, and most of the universities are public, therefore higher education is actually extremely affordable. I will be applying to both the MA in Cultural Criticism at (IUNA) National University Institute for the Arts and the MA in Curating Visual Arts (UNTREF) Universidad Nacional del Tres de Febrero. Whilst I am there, I will be working in an art gallery, and hopefully developing my practice working collaboratively in art related projects. My main interest remains linked to a course in the BA, called Practising Theory given by Dr Gavin Butt, and the writings of Peggy Phelan, Jane Blocker, Amelia Jones and Judith Butler."

See more profiles for this programme

Fees & funding

Related content links

University statistics for this course