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&A, The Live Art Development Agency, Hackney 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
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Contact the department
If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Brendan Prendeville
What you'll study
Year 1 (credit 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.
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.
In the first year, you study the following compulsory modules:
|Year 1 modules||Module title||Credits|
|Seeing and Showing||30 credits|
|Space and Time||30 credits|
|Beyond Boundaries||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
Individual modules are identified with one or more of these pathways, to help you in defining your special areas of interest as you proceed.
Year 2 (credit level 5)
In your second year, you study the following core module:
You then study option Modules to the value of 90 credits from an approved list available annually from the Department of Visual Cultures. This currently includes:
- Beckett and Aesthetics
- 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
- 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.
Year 3 (credit 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
- Film Fables and Documentary Lives
- Forming the Commons
- Philosophy and...
- Sexual Poetics
- The Truth in Painting
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.
This programme is taught through scheduled learning - a mixture of lectures and seminars. You’ll also be expected to undertake a significant amount of independent study. This includes carrying out required and additional reading, preparing topics for discussion, and producing essays or project work.
The following information gives an indication of the typical proportions of learning and teaching for each year of this programme*:
- Year 1 - 19% scheduled learning, 81% independent learning
- Year 2 - 15% scheduled learning, 85% independent learning
- Year 3 - 11% scheduled learning, 89% independent learning
How you’ll be assessed
You’ll be assessed by coursework only. Normally this consists of essays, sometimes accompanied by creative projects, group projects, multi-media projects, presentations, symposia, reviews, and studio work.
The following information gives an indication of how you can typically expect to be assessed on each year of this programme*:
- Years 1, 2 and 3 - 100% coursework
*Please note that these are averages are based on enrolments for 2016/17. Each student’s time in teaching, learning and assessment activities will differ based on individual module choices.
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.
Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.
We accept the following qualifications:
International Baccalaureate: 33 points overall with Three HL subjects at 655
Access: Pass with 45 Level 3 credits including 30 Distinctions and a number of merits/passes in subject-specific modules
Scottish qualifications: BBBBC (Higher) or BBC (Advanced Higher)
European Baccalaureate: 75%, you also need to show an interest in and aptitude for Art History
Irish Leaving Certificate: H2 H2 H2 H2
We also accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.
If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score of 6.0 with a 6.0 in writing and no element lower than 5.5 to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for degree-level study.
Fees & funding
Find out about our undergraduate tuition fees and funding opportunities.
Reading material is available digitally, however printed copies are available to purchase from the department at less than cost price.
We encourage you to make the most of the exhibitions and events in London and some modules include compulsory trips to free exhibitions as part of your studies. Sometimes we might suggest you also attend paid exhibitions or events, however these are optional and we encourage you to apply for funding from the Students' Union Academic Communities Fund.
As a joint honours student, access to, and support using, the Fine Art studio spaces and art practice areas is covered by your tuition fees. Some materials are available to purchase in the art practice areas, however you may also choose to purchase your own materials.
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.
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.