Introduction

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. Our curriculum aims to situate European art in its global connectedness and its full complexities. You will study at a university steeped in 500 years of social and artistic development and rated top in Scotland for the impact of the work of its Art History researchers.

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
V350
Pathway Programme Available
Undergraduate Foundation Programme
Degree marketing image

Art History Art research at Aberdeen was ranked top in Scotland for its impact and second in the UK, in the latest UK Research Excellence Framework.

You will study in buildings centuries old, inspired by teachers and researchers whose cutting-edge research ranges from medieval religious art and early modern prints to art theory, exhibition history, and Scottish and British painting from the 17th to 20th centuries.

As a graduate, you will be ideally placed to pursue a career in the art gallery and museum sectors, arts education, auction houses, publishing and journalism, fine art conservation, or postgraduate study. Our recent graduates are working for Christie’s London, Sotheby's in Zurich, the Weiss Gallery in London, Aberdeen Art Gallery, the Pier Arts Centre in Orkney and the McManus Gallery in Dundee. You will acquire transferable skills including teamwork, time management, personal initiative and highly developed enquiry, analytical and presentational skills ideally suited to a range of careers.

You will enjoy all the benefits of our friendly and vibrant international community, on our beautiful campus with its own extensive art collections, great facilities for learning, sports and leisure and many opportunities to develop the extra skills to boost your employability, including broadening your horizons through study abroad.

What You'll Study

Art History at Aberdeen explores the artistic disciplines in Europe within its global networks. The programme offers a research-led introduction to the analysis of artworks and architecture up until the present day, with an emphasis on comparative thinking and theoretical reflection. You will develop an in-depth understanding of artworks and their historical contexts and will develop cutting-edge analytical skills by studying topics such as Classical Greek art, Renaissance altarpieces, modern and contemporary photography, and British and Scottish painting. By focusing on work with local collections we also aim to teach students relevant vocational skills, in order to train and educate the next generation of art history professionals.

Year 1

Year 1

Compulsory Courses
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.

View detailed information about this course
Academic Writing for Divinity, History & Philosophy (AW1007)

This compulsory evaluation is designed to find out if your academic writing is of a sufficient standard to enable you to succeed at university and, if you need it, to provide support to improve. It is completed on-line via MyAberdeen with clear instructions to guide you through it. If you pass the evaluation at the first assessment it will not take much of your time. If you do not, you will be provided with resources to help you improve. This evaluation does not carry credits but if you do not complete it this will be recorded on your degree transcript.

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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’.

View detailed information about this course
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'

View detailed information about this course
Encountering Art: Museums Through History (AH1502)

15 Credit Points

Collecting, like art-making, is a universal human activity. This introductory course takes you on a journey through the history of collecting, from early modern cabinets of curiosities, over the origins of the modern art museum, to questions of curation in the digital age. We will explore how changing modes of display affect our perception and understanding of artworks. The course also addresses key debates on the practice and ethics of museums, on restitution and decolonisation.

View detailed information about this course
Optional Courses

Select further courses of choice to make up 120 credit points.

Year 2

Year 2

Compulsory Courses
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.

View detailed information about this course
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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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’.

View detailed information about this course
Optional Courses

Select further courses of choice to make up 120 credit points.

Year 3

Year 3

Optional Courses

Select FOUR of the following:

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.

View detailed information about this course
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.

View detailed information about this course
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.

View detailed information about this course
Queer Beauty: Masculinities in 19th Century Art (AH3504)

30 Credit Points

This course focuses on representations of the male body in nineteenth-century art, from Neoclassicism over the Pre-Raphaelites to fin-de-siècle art. Subjects discussed range from ideals of androgynous beauty and Romantic ‘friendship’, to Orientalism, desire and perversion. We will discuss how the male body was aestheticised, sexualised and politicised in new ways – through close study of selected artworks, but also through engagement with recent critical theory.

View detailed information about this course
The Twelfth - Century Renaissance (AH3505)

30 Credit Points

The twelfth century was a period defined by upheaval and innovation, when ancient learning and new ideas combined to transform European society across the continent. This course explores the artistic dimension to cultural, social, and political change, and brings marginalised communities into focus. We will draw on a range of sources, including manuscripts, architecture, stained glass and metalwork to understand a range of lived experiences, from isolated monks to Jewish communities.

View detailed information about this course
Year 4

Year 4

Compulsory Courses
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.

View detailed information about this course
Optional Courses

Select THREE of the following:

(AH4001) Curation: Theory and Practice

(AH4003) Materialising Faith: Women, Art and Religion, 1150-1500

(HA4012) Art & Society in 18th-century England

(AH4504) Queer Beauty: Masculinities in 19th Century Art

(AH4505) The Twelfth Century Renaissance

Curation: Theory and Practice (AH4001)

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.

View detailed information about this course
Materialising Faith: Women, Art and Religion, 1150 - 1500 (AH4003)

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.

View detailed information about this course
Art & Society in 18th Century England (HA4012)

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.

View detailed information about this course
Queer Beauty: Masculinities in 19th Century Art (AH4504)

30 Credit Points

This course focuses on representations of the male body in nineteenth-century art, from Neoclassicism over the Pre-Raphaelites to fin-de-siècle art. Subjects discussed range from ideals of androgynous beauty and Romantic ‘friendship’, to Orientalism, desire and perversion. We will discuss how the male body was aestheticised, sexualised and politicised in new ways – through close study of selected artworks, but also through engagement with recent critical theory.

View detailed information about this course
The Twelfth - Century Renaissance (AH4505)

30 Credit Points

The twelfth century was a period defined by upheaval and innovation, when ancient learning and new ideas combined to transform European society across the continent. This course explores the artistic dimension to cultural, social, and political change, and brings marginalised communities into focus. We will draw on a range of sources, including manuscripts, architecture, stained glass and metalwork to understand a range of lived experiences, from isolated monks to Jewish communities.

View detailed information about this course

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

In first year, students attend lectures and tutorials and may undertake tutor-led visits. Students take visual-based assessments and write essays for each course.

In second year, students attend lectures and tutorials as well as working in small groups to give group presentations. There are also tutor-led field trips. Students undertake a combination of essay and visual-based assessments.

Honours courses are generally taught in seminars held twice a week. Students are assessed by a combination of essay, online and visual-based assessment. A dedicated fieldwork course includes independent and tutor-led field trips. In addition, all single Honours students submit a dissertation.

Learning Methods

  • Field Trips
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • 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?

  • Teaching rated ‘Highly Satisfactory’ in the last national quality assessment.
  • 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.
  • A magnificent art collection, including gifts of paintings, and commissioned artworks adding value to campus ethos and environment.
  • Home to the Buildings of Scotland Project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the definitive inventory of Scottish architecture for Aberdeenshire, Moray and Aberdeen.
  • The north-east of Scotland’s distinguished architectural heritage from the Middle Ages onwards and 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, Glasgow and London, and a final year week-long visit to a city of artistic and cultural significance – most recently Paris.
  • Spectacular, award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library, with state-of-the-art technology, and an excellent modern collection of art history books covering all periods and particularly strong in 18th and 19th century material, including art theory and criticism, archaeology and travel literature.
  • Historic Collections include important medieval manuscripts and estate papers and the unique George Washington Wilson archive with over 45,000 original glass plate negatives made by this made by this pioneering Victorian photographer.
  • 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

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.

Undergraduate EU Scholarship

The Aberdeen Global Undergraduate Scholarship is open to European Union (EU) students.

This is an £8,000 tuition fee discount available to eligible self-funded Undergraduate students who would have previously been eligible for Home (Scottish/EU) fee status.

View Undergraduate EU Scholarship

Careers

Art History at Aberdeen explores the artistic disciplines of Europe within its global networks. The range of courses on offer will enable you gain an in-depth understanding of a range of periods, media, and theoretical approaches that particularly interest you. The historical knowledge and analytical skills, as well as the first-hand experience gained in working with collection will give you rigorous academic skills, as well as valuable vocational ones. Our previous graduates have gone on to work in museums and galleries, art publishing, the art trade, art tours, conservation of wall paintings and historic buildings, theatre design, libraries and universities.

Research 1st in Scotland, 2nd in UK

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, the impact of our research was rated first in Scotland and second across universities in the United Kingdom.

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.

Facilities

Aberdeen is the ideal location to study the Art History. You will have access to the city's many art galleries and museums and you will benefit from being able to experience Aberdeen's unique architectural history first-hand. The department is small and places a strong emphasis on applied learning, which is reflected in the field trips that the programme offers.

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