BA (Hons) Fine Art & History of Art

  • UCAS
  • Length
    3 years full-time
  • Department
    Art, Visual Cultures

Course overview

This distinctive degree supports your individual concerns and development and enables you to navigate your way through theory and practice, various fine art media, and thematic strands within the study of art history and visual cultures.

Why study BA Fine Art & History of Art at Goldsmiths?

  • We're renowned for our strengths in the creative and visual arts, as well as humanities subjects, so you'll be able to benefit from this wide-ranging expertise
  • We'll equip you with the skills that will help you develop independent thought and confidence in your practice, as well as transferable skills suitable for employment in the creative industries
  • All staff on the programme are practising artists, curators, academics and writers, here to help you develop your practice, focus your research and respond to the work that you make
  • Our teaching takes advantage of the many galleries, art spaces, museums, cultural facilities and specialist libraries in London
  • You'll have access to a studio space and excellent facilities including specialist art practice areas
  • We're ranked top 6 in the UK (Guardian University Guide 2018), and top 15 in the world (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017) for art.
  • Invited artists, curators, gallerists, administrators and funders will provide you with specialist advice and further information to complement your studies and prepare you for professional life after graduation
  • Find out where life has taken our alumni on our interactive world map

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Roxy Walsh or Ayesha Hameed

Modules & structure


This programme allows you to integrate both fine art practice and the study of history of art in the context of contemporary visual culture. You'll be required throughout the programme to participate actively in seminars, discussing your own work and that of other students.

Made up of two elements – fine art studio practice, and history of art modules, together with an interdisciplinary Link Seminar – the programme allows you to explore and experience the interaction between art history and practice.

Fine art studio practice is taught in the Department of Art, and develops your work through experimentation, with the aim of achieving a thorough understanding of your chosen media and their relevance within contemporary culture. Three years of intensive studio and workshop practice culminate in the final year exhibition which is assessed and then opened to the public.

History of art and theory modules are taught through lectures, seminars and tutorials in the Department of Visual Cultures.

The Link Seminar, taught across both departments, explores the dynamic relationships between art history, theory and practice in large seminar and small workshop formats.

Year 1

Studio Practice focuses on the acquisition of fundamental knowledge and gives you the basic practical skills necessary to initiate your research. You will gain experience of making art independently and an awareness of the interaction between the History of Art and theory as it relates to your studio practice.

Your tutors assess your Studio Practice coursework continuously and your work is also assessed through an end-of-year presentation.

In Art History, 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. 

Each of our first year modules is taught by a team of four or five different teachers from the permanent faculty. 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.

All students take a compulsory core Art History module:


This module provides a historical preface for the whole of your degree studies, which centre on modern and contemporary art and visual culture. How has the concept of modernity arisen, and how has its meaning varied and evolved in recent history, in terms of art, ideas, events and technological change? 

Plus one of the following modules:

  • Seeing and Showing
In what senses may the meaning and effect of a work depend on the way we see it, and what factors are in play, in terms of subjectivity, exhibition, aesthetic ideas, and concepts of realism?
  • Space and Time

    How have space and time and their interaction come to play a central part in modern and contemporary visual practices? We consider the question under different headings: the photographic instant, memory, the present time of everyday experience, and imaginary dimensions of space and time. 

  • Beyond Boundaries

    Contemporary art has gone beyond the limits of traditional practice. How and why has this come about? How do we make sense of and evaluate these innovations in our field of study?

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.

You must pass all components to progress to the following year.

Year 2

Studio Practice in Year 2 begins to deal with more complex issues and a selective application of acquired knowledge and practical skills. It is a period of experimentation and synthesis, expanding and deepening your practice.

Your tutors assess your Studio Practice coursework continuously and you make a presentation of selected work for a viva voce in the third term, where you will be asked to discuss your work in depth.

History of Art in Year 2 will involve you taking two option modules. These currently include: 

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

You may also take one of the above Art History options with one Related Study module from another department within Goldsmiths.

Year 3

Studio Practice at this level reflects an independent, self-motivated practice and your potential to work as an artist. You will demonstrate a high degree of understanding, critical awareness and independent judgement. At this level you will have consolidated your practical and critical skills in preparation for the Final Exhibition and further independent practice.

Your tutors assess your Studio Practice coursework continuously and at the end of the year you mount an exhibition of your Studio Practice for assessment, which is then open to the public.

In History of Art you take 2 Special Subjects or 1 Special Subject plus a dissertation of 8,000–10,000 words. Special Subjects include:

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

Invited artists, curators, gallerists, administrators and funders will provide you with specialist advice and further information to complement your studies and prepare you for professional life after graduation.


Visual Cultures assessment are 100% coursework. Normally this consists of essays, sometimes accompanied by creative projects, group projects, multi-media projects, presentations, symposia, reviews, and studio work. 

Download the programme specification for the 2018-19 intake. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

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

Entry requirements

Our entry requirements for this programme are usually:

  • Successful completion of three A-levels, International Baccalaureate or an equivalent qualification
  • PLUS successful completion of an Art and Design Foundation diploma
  • Portfolio of work



Successful completion of a Foundation diploma, BTEC Extended Diploma in Art and Design (completed by the end of the academic year preceding entry).

Please note, students applying directly from A-Levels who have not completed an Art and Design Foundation or BTEC Extended Diploma in Art and Design will not be eligible for this programme.

After submitting your application you'll be asked to upload a portfolio online. If selected for interview, you'll be asked to bring along a portfolio of recent work and an essay.

 Find out more about the electronic portfolio requirements

Mature students without formal qualifications who have relevant experience are also welcomed.

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

Scottish qualifications: Successful completion
European Baccalaureate: Successful completion
Irish Leaving Certificate: Successful completion

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 6.5 in writing and no element 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


We have a world-leading reputation that brings together
students and researchers from all over the globe


We specialise in making, curating and writing about contemporary art in a dynamic, critical and interdisciplinary environment.

And we work with a network of artists, curators, galleries and museums in both London and internationally to create an inspiring and dynamic place in which to study and develop an artistic practice.

Our alumni go on to do great things. Many of them are among the most recognised names working in art today, and since 1990 they’ve been nominated for the Turner Prize more than 30 times, winning the prize on seven occasions.

Find out more about the Department of Art.

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 be taught through intensive studio and research art practice, tutorials, and mixed-year studio practice presentations.

Each year you'll be allocated a studio space that will be the focal point of your activities. All the studios are mixed, with students from all three levels sharing the studio spaces, providing valuable peer support. You will determine the nature of your practice and, with guidance from the tutorial staff, be encouraged to work in any medium that you choose.

Studio teaching is enhanced by technical support, which introduces you to techniques relevant to the practical development of your work. You'll also be expected to research the appropriate context and debates around your chosen area of working practice.

You'll attend weekly art history 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, we expect you to complete another 5-6 hours of independent study. This typically involves carrying out research, or producing 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:

  • Tutorials
  • Studio seminars
  • Lectures
  • Presentations
  • Discussions
  • Independent learning
  • Presentations
  • Assessments

Find out more about these learning and teaching approaches.

Skills & careers


All undergraduate programmes in the aim to equip you with the necessary skills to develop independent thought and confidence in your practice. These skills will also be of use in other career paths you may wish to follow. You'll develop the following transferable skills:

  • critical and analytical skills
  • creative and practical skills
  • ability to express ideas clearly
  • IT skills

We provide you with a series of opportunities for specialist advice and further information to complement your studies and prepare you for professional life after graduation. Our students actively seek opportunities to exhibit their work beyond Goldsmiths through external networks while they are here. 


Many graduates have continued to be successful, practising artists long after graduating, winning major prizes and exhibiting around the world. The Turner Prize shortlist has consistently included at least one of our former undergraduates, including Angela de la Cruz in 2010. Six of the prize-winners have studied here: Grenville Davey, Antony Gormley, Damien Hirst, Gillian Wearing, Steve McQueen and Mark Wallinger.

The interdisciplinary nature of the programme will enable you to work in a variety of fields (eg media, museums, education, the music business, and academia) and progress to a variety of careers, including:

  • practising artist
  • art historian
  • arts administrator
  • gallery curator
  • arts journalist
  • teacher
  • lecturer
  • writer
  • conservationist
  • designer

You can find out more about the career paths open to you after gradaution on our Department of Art careers page.

Student work

BA Fine Art and History of Art
BA Fine Art and History of Art
BA Fine Art and History of Art
BA Fine Art and History of Art
BA Fine Art and History of Art
BA Fine Art and History of Art
BA Fine Art and History of Art


Student profiles

Wai Ching Lee

"My tutors give me a different understanding of life"

Goldsmiths has very good facilities for art students, and the tutors I have give me a different understanding of life and ways of studying.

Before I came, I was studying in China for IB. Even though I developed my skills there was not much time to express them; Goldsmiths provides me the opportunity to do that. 


"I learnt to take risks and push boundaries."

"At Goldsmiths I learnt how to be an independent and critical thinker. I learnt to take risks and push boundaries. Although I felt that I didn't graduate with the practical skills to get a job/funding in the arts I had the confidence and support from ex tutors to go for it anyway! I was lucky enough to get involved in projects outside of the 'classroom'. I took part in the Trondheim Biennale as part of the course which was an amazing experience. Directly because of my involvement in that project I got invited to do an artist residency in Finland where I met people that I then went on to set up the European organisation To Culture With Love with. Everything went from there! Not only did I make life long friends but I also met people I still work with. On graduation I set up the collective X presents - made up of almost 20 current and former Goldsmiths students.

I'm now Curator at Romford Contemporary Arts Programme, which I started from scratch. It's an attempt to start a contemporary arts 'scene' in TOWIE land! It's such an opportunity to be in a place with so little expectation and so much support from the Council and locals - so much has been possible. Our last project saw a group of 100 artists take over the former Outback Steakhouse unit in the centre of Romford and turn it into the Outback Art House."


"Since graduating I have continued to make work, exhibit and curate."

"This course is unique. It provides it students with the opportunity to study within two departments of a university. It enables you to explore your own independent artistic research, which is fed and nurtured by theoretical element of the course. It teaches you the importance of being able to work both collectively and independently, to be critically aware of one’s subject position and surroundings, and what it means to be creative.

Since graduating I have continued to make work, exhibit and curate. This year I have completed two residencies – one in Harlow New Town (UK) and one in Rotterdam (NL). In the past two years I have shown work at Bold Tendencies, South London Gallery and TENT. I’m now studying for an Art Science MA at The Royal Academy of Art in The Netherlands."

See more profiles for this programme

Fees & funding

Related content links

University statistics for this course