Art History

Student Satisfaction

1st in the UK

Art History is 1st in the UK in the National Student Survey 2023*

Art History

Art History empowers us in our increasingly visual world

The Art History programme at the University of Aberdeen provides students with an extensive knowledge of the history of art from the Middle Ages to the present day, covering a wide range of media and techniques, and offers applied learning through museum history and curating. Our curriculum aims to situate European art in its global connectedness and its full complexities.

Undergraduate Study

We offer a four-year undergraduate programme leading to an Honours degree in Art History, together with a wide range of joint degree options. Our teaching is informed by our staff’s cutting-edge research, providing an education that engages with the latest debates of the discipline. The university’s prestigious art collection, as well as Aberdeen’s internationally-renowned galleries and museums forms a significant part of this degree programme and allow for first-hand encounters with a wide variety of artworks and architecture.

Find our courses in the online catalogue.

Postgraduate Study

At postgraduate level, we offer taught and research degree options:

  • MLitt in Christianity and the Visual Arts, taught jointly with the department of Divinity. On campus or online, full time or part time modes of study available.
  • Scottish Visual History, a short course to be taken separately or constituent to the MLitt in Scottish Heritage available OnDemand.
  • MLitt or PhD research in Art History. We welcome informal enquiries.

We are an active group of researchers, furthering specialist knowledge and understanding in a range of areas including late medieval art and architecture, early modern British and European art, art theory and historiography, contemporary art and visual culture, the history of collecting and exhibitions. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, the impact of our research was rated first in Scotland and second across universities in the United Kingdom.

Find out about staff research areas and current PhD researchers on our Research pages.

We hold a regular series of research seminars across the academic year to which all are welcome. Find out more about our activities on our News and Events pages, and follow us on Twitter: @abdn_arthistory

Read our first annual Art History roundup

Why study Art History at Aberdeen?

We are ranked 1st for Art History in the UK in the 2023 National Student Survey and 1st for overall student satisfaction (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales).* This is the third time in four years that we have achieved this ranking. 

*measured by % positive responses to UK-wide questions in the National Student Survey 2023 from a list of providers included in the Guardian University Guide 2023.

We are a small and accessible department, with a strong interdisciplinary outlook. Aberdeen is an excellent location in which to study Art History in an academically rigorous way and with close attention to the materiality of the object.

In our increasingly visual world, art historical skills have become indispensable for an ever-increasing range of professions, and for navigating contemporary culture more broadly. Aberdeen’s Art History degree with its strong vocational focus offers an ideal pathway for careers in many areas of the art and culture sector. The programme teaches students critical skills in how to look, to think and to present ideas succinctly and persuasively.

Many of our students go on to pursue careers in the art gallery and museum sectors, arts education, auction houses, publishing and journalism, and fine art conservation, together with further postgraduate study. Employers of our most recent graduates include Christie’s London, Sotheby’s Zurich, the Weiss Gallery, London, Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums, the Pier Arts Centre, Orkney, and the McManus Gallery, Dundee.

Art History students also acquire transferable skills during the course of their degree which are valuable across a range of career possibilities. These include teamwork, time management, and personal initiative, while focused historical study encourages the development of analytical and presentational skills. These abilities are consistently drawn upon and developed during the four years of undergraduate study in Art History, through the completion of essays and reports, seminar presentations, and the final year dissertation.

Art History Staff

Name Position Room Ext Email address
Dr Joanne Anderson  Reader in Art History, Head of Department CB406 2619
Dr Isabelle Gapp Interdisciplinary Fellow CB405 2297
Dr Hans Hones Senior Lecturer CB204 2411
Dr Karl Kinsella Lecturer CB201 2946
Dr Catriona McAra Lecturer CB403 2561 
Dr Helen Pierce Senior Lecturer CB401 2621