Art History and History, MA

Art History and History, MA

Introduction

Art History and History at Aberdeen is the perfect combination to immerse yourself in all aspects of human activity in the past, with a fascinating in-depth study of the buildings, sculptures, drawings, paintings, prints, decorative and industrial arts of all periods. You will gain great specialist and transferable skills to open up a range of exciting career options.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MA
Duration
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
UCAS Code
VV13
Pathway Programme Available
Undergraduate Foundation Programme
Degree marketing image

You will be enthused and inspired by teachers who are leaders in their fields, with expertise as diverse as medieval Scandinavia, early-modern Poland and modern East Asia and enthralled by our wonderful collections of historic treasures collected by distinguished alumni over the centuries.

You will complement this with extensive specialised knowledge of the history of painting, sculpture, architecture and the decorative arts in Europe and North America from the Middle Ages to the present day.

You will study in buildings centuries old, yet with the most modern teaching and technology, inspired by teachers and researchers whose specialist areas range from Pictish art, medieval architecture, Italian Baroque painting, early modern prints and Scottish and British painting from the 17th to 20th centuries.

Your specialist skills make you ideally placed to enter the art gallery and museum sectors, arts education, publishing and journalism, or fine art conservation. Your language skills will open international opportunities and your transferable skills including teamwork, time management, and highly developed enquiry, analytical and presentational skills will appeal to employers in all fields.

What You'll Study

Year 1

Compulsory Courses

Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD1002)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 undergraduate students (and articulating students who are in their first year at the University), is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

Introduction to Art History (HA1004)

15 Credit Points

This course explores art history in the Western world from antiquity to the nineteenth century. We examine the artistic production of distinct historical periods, with reference to their social, religious, political and cultural contexts, and consider art history’s use of specific labels and chronologies, from Classical and Medieval, to Renaissance, Baroque, and Romantic art.

Making History (HI1027)

15 Credit Points

This course will introduce students to the subject of university level history. Team taught lectures will introduce students to approaches, sources, and the dilemmas facing academic historians.

Introduction to Modern and Contemporary Art (AH1503)

15 Credit Points

This course discusses key works and movements in the history of art from c. 1800 to today. It serves as an introduction to one of the most dynamic and multifaceted chapters in art history. Topics to be discussed may range from the Pre-Raphaelites and the rise of abstraction to contemporary performance art. The course will also consider the global intersections of Western art, aiming to de-centre our understanding of what counts as 'modern'

Optional Courses

Select 45 credit points from Level 1 History or Art History courses plus, further courses of choice to make up 120 credit points.

Year 2

Compulsory Courses

Art Matters: Materials and Techniques (HA2511)

30 Credit Points

This course focuses on how artworks are made. Students will be introduced to a wide range of materials, techniques and processes over the centuries relating to paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, photography and more. Each method and material will be examined using case-study examples, with discussion opening out to issues of the agency of materials and media and their cultural logics. In doing so, students will learn how artistic intentions are shaped and determined by material qualities.

Optional Courses

Select ONE of the following:

  • AH2001 - What is Art?
  • HA2012 - Object Lessons: Ten Works in Context

Plus, select a further 60 credit points from level 2 courses in History.

What is Art? (AH2001)

30 Credit Points

‘Art’ is a controversial category. In museums, you might see urinals and cardboard boxes exhibited – but what earns them this accolade? Is it about skill? Creativity? Beauty? Who decides what counts as ‘good’ art? And why are museums full of stuff made by white men? This course discusses these and related questions. It will introduce you to a wide range of historical definitions of art, and discuss key works, from antiquity to Instagram - many of which challenged the boundaries of ‘art’.

Object Lessons: Ten Works in Context (HA2012)

30 Credit Points

This course focuses on ten art objects, mapping the wealth and diversity of art historical research: from iconic 'masterpieces' to popular imagery, votive objects and craft. Works discussed may range from the Parthenon marbles and Velazquez' 'Las Meninas' to wax penises and pub signs.

Each case study introduces different questions and approaches for discussing art objects: a series of lessons in critical interpretation.

Year 3

Compulsory Courses

Thinking History (HI356J)

30 Credit Points

This course looks at how history is written. It considers the problems involved in studying and explaining the past, and the many dilemmas faced by historians in reconstructing it. By examining the ways in which history has been written from the Ancient Greeks to Postmodernism, it considers the limits of historical study, asks whether history can ever be a science, and reveals the assumptions behind the various approaches to history that inform its writing. It is designed to provide honours history students with an essential understanding of what they are doing when they study history.

Optional Courses

Select ONE of the following:

  • AH3501 - Curation: Theory and Practice
  • AH3507 - Climates of Classicism: Scottish Travellers in Greece, 1770-1880
  • HA351A - Italian Mural Painting and the Making of Visual Cultures, 1400-1500

Plus, select ONE of the following:

  • HA3082 - Painting in Tudor and Early Stuart England
  • AH3008 - Reproduction and the Body in Modern and Contemporary Art after 1945

Plus, select 30 credit points from Level 3 History courses or one of the following approved courses:

  • DR302F - Christianity in Scotland: History & Theology of The Church in Scotland
  • ME33HM - History of Medicine
Painting in Tudor and Early Stuart England (HA3082)

30 Credit Points

This module develops students' knowledge and understanding of early modern European painting, providing a chronological overview of elite portraiture and diplomatic commissions in England between 1530 and 1650. Artists studied in their English contexts include Hans Holbein, Nicholas Hilliard, Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyck. Furthermore, this module asks important questions about the persuasive and diplomatic possibilities of the visual arts, the relationship between painter and patron, and the impact and legacy of foreign artists on British painting and visual culture through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and beyond.

Reproduction and the Body in Modern and Contemporary Art After 1945 (AH3008)
Curation: Theory and Practice (AH3501)

30 Credit Points

This course focuses on the theory and practice of curation, making use of the internationally renowned University Museums and Special collections, which include artworks and material culture from the earliest times to the present day. The course comprises a series of seminars covering topics, including museum and exhibition history, object selection, exhibition texts and education, which prepare the ground for student curatorial teams to design an exhibition proposal. The course is assessed by portfolio work, a presentation and a position paper. It is co-taught by Art History and Museums and Special Collections.

Climates of Classicism: Scottish Travellers in Greece, 1770 - 1880 (AH3507)

30 Credit Points

Throughout the 19th century, countless artists travelled to Greece in search for the splendours of antiquity. Many were disappointed by the rugged and mountainous country -

but for many Scottish travellers Greece proved surprisingly similar to their homeland. We will focus on these Scottish artists and antiquaries travelling to Greece, and their experiences.

The course is based on the study of material in Aberdeen collections, serving also as hands-on training in work with primary sources.

Italian Mural Painting and the Making of Visual Cultures, 1400 - 1500 (HA351A)
Christianity in Scotland: History & Theology of the Church in Scotland (DR302F)

30 Credit Points

What was the situation of the Church in medieval Scotland? What changes did the Reformation of 1560 bring? Who were the main players in the Scottish Reformation and beyond? Who were the covenanters and which policies and theologies did they represent? What changes did the 19th and 20th centuries have in store for the Kirk? This course introduces students to the landmarks of Scottish Church history with reference to relevant primary sources. Assessment is based on two essays.

History of Medicine (ME33HM)

30 Credit Points

The course will involve each student working individually on a historical project of his or her own choice, under the supervision of the course co-ordinator.

Students will be required to produce a research proposal and progress reports, to prepare an essay and make a presentation of their findings to the class. The aim of the option is to give students the opportunity to research and present, individually, in spoken and written forms, a history of medicine topic of their own choice, using both primary and secondary sources.

Year 4

Optional Courses

Select ONE of the following dissertation options:

  • Dissertation in History (HI4516)
  • Art History Dissertation (HA4588) AND History in Practice II (HI4518)

Also, select ONE of the following:

  • AH4008 - Reproduction and the Body in Modern and Contemporary Art after 1945
  • HA4082 - Painting in Tudor and Early Stuart England
  • HA4011 - Art and the City

Select a Special Subject course (listed below), plus 30 credit points of Level 4 Art History courses if the dissertation is taken in History.

  • HI401A - Special Subject: Peacemaking and Bloodfeud
Undergraduate Dissertation in History (HI4516)

30 Credit Points

The undergraduate dissertation is the final-year major research undertaking, based on primary and secondary material and providing a critical analysis of a specific subject chosen by the student. It is obligatory for Single Honours students, whereas Joint Honours students choose to write their dissertation in either of the two subjects. After initial sessions about the nature of the dissertation and research approaches, students develop a topic with the help of a member of staff, who will also supervise their project throughout.

History of Art Dissertation (HA4588)

30 Credit Points

Your dissertation is intended to give you the opportunity to carry out a piece of sustained research on a topic of your own choice and to demonstrate to the examiners your ability to present the results of such research in a proper, scholarly manner. Your research may be of various kinds. It may address works of art (or a single work of art) directly, through first-hand study in galleries, museums, or private collections, or it may be of a more literary kind, addressing critical or theoretical problems. Or it might involve both.

History in Practice (HI4518)

30 Credit Points

History is not simply a dry, academic study of the past; it shapes a host of contemporary political, economic and cultural attitudes and is a central underpinning to the tourist and heritage industries - now one of the largest sectors of employment among mature western economies. This course is designed to give a critical understanding of the theoretical and practical links (as well as clear distinctions) between the practice of 'academic' History and 'public' History. This is done by having students assess how heritage and tourist businesses project a particular version of the past.

Reproduction and the Body in Modern and Contemporary Art After 1945 (AH4008)
Painting in Tudor and Early Stuart England (HA4082)

30 Credit Points

This module develops students' knowledge and understanding of early modern European painting, providing a chronological overview of elite portraiture and diplomatic commissions in England between 1530 and 1650. Artists studied in their English contexts include Hans Holbein, Nicholas Hilliard, Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyck. Furthermore, this module asks important questions about the persuasive and diplomatic possibilities of the visual arts, the relationship between painter and patron, and the impact and legacy of foreign artists on British painting and visual culture through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and beyond.

Special Sub: Enlightenment Compared: Ireland, Scotland, Central Europe (HI4003)

30 Credit Points

This course examines the emergence and the variations of Enlightenment thinking in Scotland and Central Europe (with particular emphasis on the German and East Central European Enlightenment, to which the Scottish Enlightenment had strong historical links). It emphasises the varieties of the European Enlightenment, against the traditional assumption that the Enlightenment was exclusively 'located' in France.

Special Sub.: the Scottish Wars of Independence, 1286 - 1328 (HI4009)

30 Credit Points

In 1286 Alexander III of Scotland was found dead at the foot of a cliff and Scotland was engulfed in a period of political instability and eventually war that was to have a profound impact on the future development of the British Isles. The course considers key stages of the ‘wars of independence’ period in chronological sequence until the final triumph of Robert I in 1328. Due consideration will be given to international perspectives in trying to understand the Anglo-Scottish struggle, notably in relation to Ireland, France, Flanders and the Papacy.

Special Sub.: Britain and Revolutionary Russia 1917 - 1924 (HI4012)

30 Credit Points

This course explores British relations with Russia during the early years of the Soviet regime. It highlights a series of key developments in the relationship, especially major changes in British government policy that charted a course from military intervention to diplomatic recognition. Most of the seminars trace an aspect of the relationship within a fairly short time-frame, but some seminars investigate a particular issue through the whole period 1917–24. Several sessions will be used specifically for analysing gobbets. Knowledge of the Russian language is not required.

Special Subject: History of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict (HI4025)

30 Credit Points

The course examines the origins of the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and its developments from multiple angles in order to provide a comprehensive understanding of the complex dynamic that constitutes ‘the conflict’. The course will investigate the causes of the Palestinian refugee crisis and of the Arab-Israeli wars. It will introduce students to the Arab-Israeli peace process and familiarise students with the polarised historiography surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Special Subject: Atlantic Encounters: Western Africa and Portugal (HI405W)

30 Credit Points

This course explores the relations between Portugal and Western Africa in the early modern period. It focuses on the period from 1415 to 1670 in which Portugal became the first European maritime power to establish contacts with societies in West and West Central Africa. Key themes include maritime navigation, Afro-European trade, and cultural contact. Particular focus will be placed on African responses and indigenous perspectives on European cultural contact.

Special Subject: the Black Radical Tradition (HI406C)

30 Credit Points

'The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.’ So declared African American intellectual WEB Du Bois at the dawn of that era.

In the period since this prophetic claim was made – and indeed in our own time – Black-led movements have challenged multiple structures of domination (racism, colonialism, patriarchy, capitalism) in the Americas, Africa, and Europe. This module focuses on the history of these transformative movements through an exploration of political thought in the Black Radical Tradition.

Concentrating on the US and the Anglophone world, but encompassing contributions from the Francophone Caribbean and Lusophone Africa, the module will encourage students to critically engage with the global history of Black thought and protest.

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • Coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course.
  • Practical assessments of the skills and competencies they learn on the course.
  • Written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, years of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Art History and History?

Why History

  • Teaching rated ‘Highly Satisfactory’ in the last national Teaching Quality Assessment, and with student satisfaction of 95% – way above the national average of 86%.
  • Particular strengths in Irish and Scottish studies, Scandinavia, late medieval/early modern period, and research centres studying global empires, history and philosophy of science, technology and medicine, and Russian and Eastern European history.
  • The inspiration of our beautiful historic campus in Old Aberdeen, where King’s College Chapel, begun in 1495 by University founder Bishop Elphinstone, is a treasure-house of history and religious turbulence.
  • Major international treasures including 7,000 early printed books, the magnificent 12th century Aberdeen Bestiary, large Jacobite collection, works of the Scottish Enlightenment, and fascinating local records dating from the middle ages.
  • A packed campus programme of student and public events, exhibitions, seminars, invited speakers and the annual May Festival which welcomes world-famous authors, broadcasters and personalities including well-known historians to campus every spring.
  • Spectacular, award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library, combining top-class study facilities with state-of-the-art technology, and an online catalogue giving you access to thousands of books and millions of journal articles on the web.

Why Art History

  • Ranked the leading university in Scotland for the impact of Art History research, and second in the UK in the latest UK Research Excellence Framework.
  • Teaching rated ‘Highly Satisfactory’ in the last national Teaching Quality Assessment.
  • Our magnificent art collection, including the generous gifts of alumni through the centuries, and modern artworks by leading Scottish artists making our spaces special, and adding thought-provoking inspiration to our campus.
  • The inspiration of the beautiful King’s College Chapel, begun in 1495 by University founder Bishop Elphinstone, a treasure-house of history, showcasing some of the finest work of medieval craftsmen in Europe.
  • Spectacular, award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library with an excellent modern collection of art history books covering all periods, particularly strong in 18th and 19th century material, including art theory and criticism, archaeology and travel.
  • Home to the Buildings of Scotland Project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the definitive inventory of Scottish Architecture for Aberdeenshire, Moray and Aberdeen.
  • Historic treasures including important medieval manuscripts and estate papers, and the unique George Washington Wilson archive with over 45,000 original glass plate negatives made by this pioneer Victorian photographer.
  • North-east Scotland’s distinguished architectural heritage from the Middle Ages onwards, the Aberdeen Art Gallery collections of French and British art, including one of the best collections of Victorian painting outside London.
  • The National Galleries of Scotland, the Burrell Collection, Glasgow Art Gallery and the Hunterian Museum are within easy reach by train, bus or car.
  • Visits to major galleries and architecture in Edinburgh, London and Paris, as part of your programme, and a final year week-long visit to a city of artistic and cultural significance – most recently Paris.
  • A packed campus programme of student and public events, exhibitions, seminars, invited speakers, and the annual May Festival which includes tours and talks on our medieval architecture and art treasures.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.


General Entry Requirements

2022 Entry

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB

Minimum: BBC

Adjusted: CCC

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

2023 Entry

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB

Minimum: BBC

Adjusted: CCC

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

The information displayed in this section shows a shortened summary of our entry requirements. For more information, or for full entry requirements for Arts and Social Sciences degrees, see our detailed entry requirements section.


English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.0 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

TOEFL iBT:

OVERALL - 78 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 59 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 169 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

International Applicants who do not meet the Entry Requirements

The University of Aberdeen International Study Centre offers preparation programmes for international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements for undergraduate study. Discover your foundation pathway here.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / RUK £1,820
All Students
RUK £9,250
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year
International Students £17,200
Students Admitted in 2020/21
EU / International students £19,800
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year
Home Students £1,820
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year

Scholarships and Funding

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who pay tuition fees may be eligible for specific scholarships allowing them to receive additional funding. These are designed to provide assistance to help students support themselves during their time at Aberdeen.

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Careers

There are many opportunities at the University of Aberdeen to develop your knowledge, gain experience and build a competitive set of skills to enhance your employability. This is essential for your future career success. The Careers and Employability Service can help you to plan your career and support your choices throughout your time with us, from first to final year – and beyond.

Our Experts

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

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Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX