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

History research at Aberdeen is rated top in Scotland for its impact and 2nd in the UK in the latest UK Research Excellence Framework (Ranked by Times Higher Education based on REF 2014 GPA scores), with teaching rated ‘Highly Satisfactory’ in the last national quality assessment and student satisfaction of 95%.

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

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’.

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Introduction to Art History (HA1004)

15 Credit Points

This course investigates key episodes in the history of art in the western world from antiquity to the nineteenth century. Students will be introduced to the artistic production of distinct historical periods, with reference to their social, political, religious and cultural contexts.

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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.

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Modern Art (AH1501)

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'

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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

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.

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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’.

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Year 3

Year 3

Optional Courses

Select ONE of the following:

  • AH3001 - Curation: Theory and Practice
  • AH3003 - Materialising Faith: Women, Art and Religion, 1150-1500
  • HA3012 - Art & Society in 18th-century England

Also, select ONE of the following:

  • AH3504 - Queer Beauty: Masculinities in 19th Century Art
  • HI356J - Thinking History

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

  • CE3088 - Tales of Vengeance & Enchantment: The Heroic Age in Saga Literature
  • DR302D - Reformation, Reason & Revolt: Church, Politics & Theology
  • ME33HM - History of Medicine
  • DR355D - Scottish Revivals
Materialising Faith: Women, Art and Religion, 1150 - 1500 (AH3003)

30 Credit Points

From Hildegard of Bingen to Isabella D’Este, women played a defining role in the commissioning, making and experiencing of devotional art and architecture. This course explores the opportunities nuns, sisters, mystics, wives and widows had to express their faith, status and power by material means. Equally it focuses on the way in which such devotional works could shape women’s visions and modes of contemplation. Case studies are drawn from across Europe, with a primary focus on Italy and Germany during the period 1150-1500.

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Art & Society in 18th Century England (HA3012)

30 Credit Points

This course focuses on English art across the eighteenth century, and addresses developments across a range of genres, from portraiture and historical narratives to sporting art and political satires. Artists studied include William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds and Joseph Wright of Derby. This course also considers the broader impact on the visual arts of a burgeoning exhibition culture, the collecting ethos of the Grand Tour and greater European travel, and the intellectual reforms of the Enlightenment age. Download course guide.

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Curation: Theory and Practice (AH3001)

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.

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Reformation, Reason & Revolt: Church, Politics & Theology (DR302D)

30 Credit Points

The European Reformation was a time of immense ecclesiastical, social, intellectual and political transformation that changed the religious and cultural landscape of the West forever. By way of regular seminars, this course draws students into detailed exploration of critical events, developments, ideas and debates of this tumultuous period in history to consider the nature of the transformations which it bequeathed to subsequent centuries up to and including our own.

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Tales of Vengeance & Enchantment:the Heroic Age in Saga Literature A (CE3088)

30 Credit Points

This course explores and compares the legendary saga-narratives written in medieval Ireland and Iceland which dramatize the great deeds and even greater misdeeds of Celtic and Scandinavian ‘heroes’. Characters studied range from the frenzied Ulster warrior Cu Chulainn to the tragic and troll-like Icelander Grettir the Strong and the mythic dragon-slayer Sigurdr the Volsung, made famous by Wagner but much wilder in the original. Stories studied will include cattle-raids, bloodfeuds, Otherworld quests and fights with zombies. By the end of the course, students will know how to go berserk in an informed and critically aware manner.

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Year 4

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:

  • AH4001 - Curation: Theory and Practice
  • AH4003 - Materialising Faith, Women, Art and Religion, 1150-1500
  • HA4012 - Art & Society in 18th-century England

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Special Sub.: the Thirty Years' War (HI4004)

30 Credit Points

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Special Sub.: French Revolution (HI4006)

30 Credit Points

The French Revolution is among the most widely written about events in history. It has long provoked passionate responses, not only in France but also in many other parts of the world where people have lived through massive political and social upheaval. For anyone who has ever thought about what it means to transform society, the French Revolution stands out as a compelling example of how such a transformation may unfold in all its breathtaking complexity. This course follows a chronological route through the various stages of the French Revolution.

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Special Subject: Women and Men (HI4007)

30 Credit Points

This course will address a number of themes, including modern studies of marriage; the western medieval church and marriage law, sexuality and gender in the middle ages; attitudes to love, marriage and the family; and sex roles and gender differences. We will examine the way in which gender and ideology influence the lives of both ordinary and not-so-ordinary people in the middle ages by examining a variety of primary and secondary sources.

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Special Subject: Hitler (HI4008)

30 Credit Points

Hitler is omnipresent in modern life. He appears everywhere in the media and he is invoked all the time in public and private discourse. Yet Adolf Hitler remains an enigma. While he tends to be reduced to a one-dimensional cardboard cut out villain outside of academia, inside academia there has been a tendency in recent years to diminish Hitler’s importance and to push Hitler to the sidelines.

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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.

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Special Sub:european Constitutional Monarchies in the Long 19thcentury (HI4023)

30 Credit Points

On the eve of the First World War Europe was a continent of monarchies. A long 19th century of revolutions, wars, growing literacy, an expanding public sphere, changes in social, economic, intellectual and technological life and imperial expansion lay behind them, but the continent’s monarchical systems had survived in surprisingly rude health. That monarchies had flourished throughout these profound transformations points to their suppleness and ingenuity. This course offers new perspectives on the political cultures of the states and societies of 19th-century Europe.

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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.

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Special Subject: Myths of the North (HI4026)

30 Credit Points

This course critically evaluates representations and functions of Old Norse myth and legend in both medieval and modern contexts. It will enable students to better understand the myths, beliefs and stories of Viking and medieval Scandinavia in their own historical contexts, and to analyse the political and cultural implications of their endurance, significance and popularity into the modern world.

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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

  • Ranked top University in Scotland for the impact of its History research, and second in the UK in the latest UK Research Excellence Framework. (Ranked by Times Higher Education based on REF 2014 GPA scores)
  • 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

2021 Entry
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.

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
Students Admitted in 2020/21
International Students £17,200
Students Admitted in 2020/21

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.

Discover Uni

Discover Uni draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

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