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.

2020 NSS results for BA (Hons) Art History

94% of students were satisfied overall; 94% of students agreed staff made the subject interesting; 94% of students agreed the course is intellectually stimulating; 94% of students felt that the course had provided an opportunity to apply what they had learnt; and 100% of students agreed that staff were good at explaining things.*

Careers with this subject

Our Art History students have tremendous opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for employment in a variety of work settings. Our methods of teaching and learning throughout this course will provide you with the topical skills and experience that you can apply to the wide range of career options open to art history graduates.

Where could an art history degree take you?

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, The Arts Institute 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 IvesThe Arts Institute 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 2020 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 2019 National Student Survey 90% of students were satisfied overall; 100% of students agreed staff were good at explaining things; 90% of students agreed staff made the subject interesting; 90% of students agreed the course is intellectually stimulating and 90% 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
    • 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.

    • ARHI411 Continuity and Change in Western Art

    • 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.

    • ARHI414 Introduction to Art History and Visual Culture

      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 for visual culture. Basic research literacy will be developed in a number of exercises and group-based activities.

    • ARHI415 Cultural Practices in Context

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

  • 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.

    Choose an option from our new group of modules on future societies and the environment:
    In your second year of study, you will be able to choose from modules across english and creative writing, history, and art history (ARHI516, ENGL527, HIST511) on our theme of ‘Future Societies and the Environment’. Aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the modules focus on the challenges for future societies, including sustainable communities and the environment, and the ways in which the humanities can engage and make a difference.

    Optional 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

    • 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.

    • ARHI516 Imagery in Online and Offline Worlds

      This module provides Single Honours and Joint Honours Art History students with a comprehensive understanding of current approaches towards mass media and visual culture. Particular emphasis will be put on medium-specificity, content analysis and audience studies.

    • HIST511 Heritage and Public History

      The module content will examine the theory and practice of the presentation of the past to public audiences. In it, students will examine the creation, nature, use and understanding of heritage and public history, nationally and internationally. They will examine these issues in case studies of historical `sites¿ of different types, to gain a critical awareness and understanding of the theories and controversies surrounding heritage and public history. This is a work facing module, where students will consider the theory and practice of `using¿ `sites¿ of heritage and public history from the point of view of a range of stake holders.

  • 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

    • 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.

    • ARHI621 Imagery in Online and Offline Worlds

      This module provides Single Honours and Joint Honours Art History students with an in-depth exploration of the characteristic procedures, methods, and objects of study within contemporary visual culture. It offers a detailed and coherent understanding of current approaches towards the use of images in film, television, video games and social media. Through a combination of Lectures and Seminars, in addition to Guided Independent Study, this module ensures students gain competency in using and evaluating disciplinary knowledge to investigate contemporary virtual worlds critically and analytically. Integral to the module is the analysis of the creation and reception of visual materials in online and offline contexts. The combination of visual and anthropological tasks ensure that individual students can effectively apply interdisciplinary research procedures.

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 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
26-28 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

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

The UK is no longer part of the European Union. EU applicants should refer to our Brexit information to understand the implications.

New Student 2020 2021
Home £9,250 £9,250
International £13,800 £14,200
Part time (Home) £770 £770
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 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. For more information about fees and funding please visit

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

To reward outstanding achievement the University of Plymouth offers scholarship schemes to help towards funding your studies.

Find out whether you are eligible and how you can apply

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business additional costs.

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

Work Placements

<p>Robyn Art History placement</p>
"Working with a Senior Research Curator, I transcribed original documents from the National Gallery archives and helped to prepare a Walking Tour of the Gallery" - Robyn
<p>Philip Mould art History</p>
"The opportunity to gain work experience at Philip Mould’s gallery where BBC One’s Fake or Fortune is also filmed was amazing" - Megan
<p>Kyle Art history placement</p>
"I joined my course with the intention of one day working for a London auctioneers, so the opportunity to experience it first-hand at Christie's has been incredible" - Kyle

"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 BA (Hons) Art History programme has topped the Guardian University League Tables 2019 in the ‘Value-Added’ category. We are the only history of art department in the UK to score 10/10 for what our programme adds to a student’s incoming level of education, resulting in a much boosted exit profile and performance. To quote the Guardian, 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.”

We also moved up six places in the same Guardian University League Table in our overall national placing, to number 11. This is just outside the top 10 UK institutions offering history of art, which include Oxford, Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute.

Our students like us! From 2013-2018, we also topped the NSS (National Student Survey) for UK art history programmes for five years running, with a rating of 100% for ‘student satisfaction’.*


Field trips with BA (Hons) Art History

We believe strongly in the experience of seeing works of art first-hand. Each semester 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 2020, the first year field trip will be to London and Oxford. The second year International field trip will be to Florence, Italy. Part of the assessment of the module is in the form of a student-made short film for social media.

Watch our student-made film about the Florence field trip.

Read more about our field trips

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 another season.

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% 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.

Study Abroad with BA (Hons) Art History

“The University of Plymouth has been an excellent choice for me, because I was supported all the way as an international exchange student and endowed research scholar in the United States. As the first Black Mountain College Legacy Research Intern, I received funding for my dissertation and access to archives, college tutors and alumni. I’m now studying at Oxford for my postgraduate degree, taking all that I have learnt at Plymouth and University of North Carolina, Asheville, with me.”

Joshua spent his second year as an art history exchange student at the University of North Carolina in the USA. In 2019, Joshua completed his Master of Studies degree in History of Art and Visual Culture at the University of Oxford.


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