School of Humanities and Performing Arts

BA (Hons) Art History

Discover why art from the past still matters to our modern society. The Tate galleries attract more than seven million visitors each year, and a Leonardo exhibition sells out as quickly as a music concert. You’ll investigate all aspects of visual culture, from paintings and sculpture to film and photography. Our connections with high profile, international art institutions will immerse you in the intriguing world of art, past and present, and prepare you for a career in this fascinating field.

You could get prepared for your future career by participating in an internship. You could gain experience in museum studies with our museum fieldwork classes, get inspired by regular visits to major UK galleries and museums, including the National Gallery, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate St Ives, Peninsula Art Gallery and Plymouth City Museum, and also expand your horizons with our international field trip module. Past destinations have included Rome, Vienna, Paris, Florence and New York City.

If you haven’t met our advertised UCAS tariff: please call our hotline anyway to see what options are available to you, as the tariff isn’t always the same in Clearing. If you are concerned you haven’t got enough points, you can also consider courses with a foundation year which lead straight onto a full degree.

2017 NSS results for BA (Hons) Art History

100% of students were satisfied overall; 100% of students agreed staff were good at explaining things; 100% of students agreed staff made the subject interesting; 100% of students agreed the course is intellectually stimulating and 93% of students felt the course challenged them to achieve their best work.*

Call our Clearing hotline – 0333 241 6929

Call our Clearing hotline on 0333 241 6929 to discuss your options and secure your place on one of our courses this September.

Key features

  • Benefit from assessment by coursework, with no written exams.
  • Take advantage of our small class sizes and one-to-one teaching from staff who are leading experts in their field.
  • Cover a wide range of art from the Renaissance period to the present, from 14th-century fresco painting in Italy to artistic responses to the atomic bomb.
  • Learn from the latest research we are working on. In the last national Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) ‘Art and Design: History, Theory and Practice’ at Plymouth scored 100 per cent for its ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ research environment, and 90 per cent for the international impact of its research case studies. This makes our unit a top five performer among University of Plymouth's research groups overall.
  • Prepare for your future career by participating in an internship. Our students have successfully interned at Tate Britain, Sotheby’s, the National Trust, Plymouth Arts Centre, Peninsula Arts and the Wallace Collection
  • Gain experience in museum studies with our museum fieldwork classes.
  • Be inspired by regular visits to major UK galleries and museums, including the National GalleryTate Britain, Tate ModernTate St IvesPeninsula Art Gallery and Plymouth City Museum.
  • Expand your horizons with the international field trip module. Past destinations have included Rome, Vienna, Paris, New York City and Washington, DC. The field trip in 2018 will be to Florence, Italy.
  • To complement your formal learning we offer regular PALS sessions that provide the opportunity for you to learn with and from your peers. Share knowledge, discuss ideas, and ask questions in a relaxed and friendly environment.
  • In the 2017 National Student Survey 100 per cent of students were satisfied overall; 100 per cent of students agreed staff were good at explaining things; 100 per cent of students agreed staff made the subject interesting; 100 per cent of students agreed the course is intellectually stimulating and 93 per cent of students felt the course challenged them to achieve their best work.*

Course details

  • Year 1
  • In your first year, we’ll introduce you to the discipline of art history. You’ll investigate the development of museums and galleries across the world, engaging in fieldwork using outstanding local examples. You’ll explore popular periods of art history, including 19th century French art and the Renaissance. To round off the year, you’ll analyse contemporary critical writings on art and develop your own critical skills.
    Core modules
    • ARHI401 Intensive Introduction to Art History

      This four-week intensive introductory module provides Single Honours Art History students with a comprehensive understanding of the discipline. It introduces the characteristic objects of study and methods of analysis typical of Art History. Writing and research skills will be developed in relevant exercises and group-based activities.

    • ARHI402 Art Historiography

      This module provides Single Honours and Joint Honours Art History students with a comprehensive understanding of the paradigms of Art History and their methodological implications. Basic research literacy will be developed in a number of exercises and group-based activities.

    • ARHI403PP Art History and Its Objects

      This module is geared toward fieldwork and independent study in a museum and/or gallery context. Following a Fieldtrip to a public collection in London and/or the Southwest students complete an Object Report on an artwork of their choice seen in situ.

    • ARHI406 Lives and Afterlives of Renaissance Artists

      This module will introduce stage one students to the major artists and themes of the Italian Renaissance through the lens of the crucial early modern source, Vasari's Lives. Designed as a primer for the higher level Renaissance modules to be taken at stage two or three, it will also ask students to think about Renaissance artists¿ changing reputations since the period.

    • ARHI412 Image of the Artist

      To explore and critically engage with representations of artists throughout the history of art. To consider: the change in the status of the artist from 'craftsman' to 'creator'; the construction of their identity in writings and art criticism; their negotiation of the art market; the rise and fall of their reputations.

    • ARHI413 Modernisms and Modernities

      French art of the later nineteenth century has probably been more popular with the general public, in the past three or four decades, than any other kind of art. This module is designed to offer both an introduction to the art made in France between about 1855 and 1900 and an introduction to the current concerns that make the art of this period so important.

  • Year 2
  • In your second year, you’ll visit a major European city - a trip designed to complement your second year modules and give you the chance to get hands-on with fieldwork. Previous destinations include Rome, Vienna and Paris. You’ll also hone your critical skills by investigating critical art theory.
    Core modules
    • ARHI501 Self-Reflexivity in Western Art and Visual Culture

    • ARHI502 Collecting and Exhibiting Cultures in the 19th and 20th Centuries

      This module examines historical and contemporary cultures of collection, exhibition, and display. Artworks and objects will be considered from a range of international contexts. Specific attention will be given to the politics and ideologies of art ownership, theft, looting, and repatriation.

    • ARHI506 International Field Trip

      The module is an intensive 1-week period of study of painting, sculpture, architecture and environments which are not available in this country. The emphasis is upon sustained first-hand study of artefacts and buildings, through staff-led visits and group-work, introducing students to advanced fieldwork skills.

    • ARHI510 Art After 1950

    • ARHI511 Studies in 20th Century European Art

    • ARHI514 Regimes and Revolutions in European Art

      This module examines the visual culture of the long eighteenth century in Europe, and the development of art in relation to the age of revolution (1750 to 1850). Focusing on Britain and France, it will explore the changes occurring in art and society in this period. It will include such topics as Neo-Classicism and Romanticism; the Academy; the rise of portraiture and the changing status of history painting; in a context of politics, war and uprising.

  • Final year
  • In your final year, you’ll continue to prepare for your career in the arts with further training in art historical research methods, as well as giving you dedicated career guidance. You’ll have the chance to study optional modules, including power patronage and ideology and studies in 20th century European art. You’ll write a substantial dissertation on the topic of your choice, previous topics include the representation of Salome in French Symbolism, and the sculpture of Barbara Hepworth.
    Core modules
    • ARHI605 Dissertation 1: Theories and Methods

      On this module students research and write a dissertation on a topic of their own choosing, negotiated in consultation with Art History staff.

    • ARHI608 Dissertation 2

      On this module students research and write a dissertation on a topic of their own choosing, negotiated in consultation with Art History staff.

    Optional modules
    • ARHI601 Self-Reflexivity in Western Art and Visual Culture

    • ARHI612 Art After 1950

    • ARHI615 Studies in 20th Century European Art

    • ARHI616 Working with Culture: Professional Development Project

      In this module students will be asked to identify a specific professional working relationship with a mentor in which they will undertake a period of first-hand work and learning experience. This initiative, chosen in consultation with a member of staff who will act as a project supervisor, should reflect the student's personal development planning aims and support their career ambitions and life-long learning.

    • ARHI618 Regimes and Revolutions: European Art 1750-1850

      This module examines the visual culture of the long eighteenth century in Europe, and the development of art in relation to the age of revolution (1750 to 1850). Focusing on Britain and France, it will explore the changes occurring in art and society in this period. It will include such topics as Neo-Classicism and Romanticism; the Academy; the rise of portraiture and the changing status of history painting; in a context of politics, war and uprising.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BA (Hons) Art History programme specification 2018-19 0665

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

104 - 112

A level
Typical offer will be 104 points, minimum of 2 A levels, General Studies accepted.

International baccalaureate
26 points.

18 Unit BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma

BTEC National Diploma modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.

All access courses
Pass a named Access to Higher Education Diploma with at least 33 credits at merit and/or distinction.

Mathematics and English language grade C/4. If you do meet this criteria please seek further advice with the admission team on

Equivalent qualifications and ability may be considered.

English language requirements

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2018 2019
Home/EU £9,250 To be confirmed
International £13,000 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances.

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code.

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Intercalating students wishing to apply for the final year of this course should complete a direct entry form.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

"Studying in the South West is unique. You have all of this culture that sometimes feels hidden, like it's just waiting to be discovered - time capsules from decades gone by, all set in this beautiful landscape".

Final year student Melia explains what being a student of Art History means to her.

Want to know more about careers in Art History? 

From the Tate Galleries to the Royal Academy of Art, Sotheby's to the London Transport Museum, our graduates can be found working and studying in a range of prestigious locations.

Let nine of our graduates now working in London, the UK’s art capital, introduce themselves to you.

League table success

Plymouth’s Art History programme has topped the NSS 2018 (National Student Survey) for the fifth year running. 

We continue to be ranked joint first in the UK for art history courses, with a rating of 100% student satisfaction *.

We have also moved up six places in the Guardian University League Tables 2019, to number 11. This is just outside the top 10 UK institutions offering history of art, which include Oxford, Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute of Art. And, we topped the whole table, the only art history department in the UK to score 10/10, in the Guardian’s category, ‘Value-Added’. To quote, this score “compares students’ degree results with their entry qualifications, to show how effectively they are taught. It is given as a rating out of 10.”

Field trips with BA (Hons) Art History

We believe strongly in the experience of seeing works of art first-hand. Each term we take students to London and other local collections. In year two, you take the international field trip module, an intensive week of study in a major city.

Field trips (flights, accommodation and entry tickets) are included in course fees. In 2019, the field trip will be to Florence, Italy.

Read more about our field trips

Art history research

On the art history course, you will engage with the very latest research delivered by staff with international reputations for expertise in the history of art and visual culture from the Renaissance period to the present day. Areas of specialism include but are not limited to: European modernism; international mural painting and public art; the reception of Renaissance artists; meta-painting; art and ethics; the history of exhibitions and collecting. Art history staff are committed to research-informed teaching which emphasises active learning, specialist knowledge and professional skills. Encouraged to participate in research projects from their first year of study, our undergraduates have an enhanced experience of learning at higher education level, as evident in the National Student Survey results of 2016 which ranked the programme joint-first in the UK with student satisfaction rated at 100 per cent. Staff contribute to a research environment that was rated 100 per cent ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ in the national assessment of UK research. (REF2014)

Discover more about art history research within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

Art History Research

What does an art historian do? Dr Gemma Blackshaw, Professor of Art History at University of Plymouth, speaks about her work as a researcher, curator and lecturer

Lawrence Hendra filming the Antiques Roadshow in Plymouth

When the BBC One Antiques Roadshow came to Plymouth

Plymouth’s art history students got a unique opportunity to go ‘behind-the-scenes’ at the Antiques Roadshow in June 2015, when programme filming – complete with presenter Fiona Bruce – came to the city’s historic waterfront at the Royal William Yard. Current students met up with Plymouth graduate and Antiques Roadshow presenter Lawrence Hendra, who showcased his job filming pieces to camera. The Antiques Roadshow from Plymouth was broadcast in October 2015. Lawrence continues to work on the Roadshow and has just completed his third season (updated November 2017).

Student profiles - BA (Hons) Art History

Do you want to pursue a masters degree and obtain a doctorate in art history? Or work in the museum and heritage sector? Whatever your goals, we’ll help you achieve them.

75 per cent of our art history graduates are working or undertaking further study after six months.

Find out more about some of our students.

The Young Explainers programme

Experience is invaluable when it comes to securing employment in arts. Get involved with the Young Explainers programme at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, and get a headstart in your career.

Enhance your career prospects with practical experience of working in culture, heritage and business.

Find out more about the Young Explainers programme.

Alice French on her exchange year in Utah.

Study abroad with BA (Hons) Art History

The exchange year is a great opportunity to meet new people and make life-long friends as well as to travel and build independence. In Utah I experienced four seasons in a day, from 20 degree heat to it snowing buckets! A stunning experience.

Alice French spent her second year as an Art History exchange student at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, during 2013.

Read more about Alice's experience

*These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Unistats is updated annually in September.

The results of the National Student Survey (NSS) and the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey (DLHE) are made available to prospective students and their advisors through the Unistats website.