Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2020/2021

MA Honours in History of Art

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by: n/a
Final award: M.A. Honours
Programme title: History of Art
UCAS code: V350
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): History of Art, Architecture and Design
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: ECA Quality Assurance Director
Date of production/revision: 4 Jul 2012 

External summary

Originally, History of Art focussed on fine art in the European tradition, stressing artistic progression and an ‘evolution’ of styles.  In the twentieth century such concepts were questioned, the discipline moved away from its Eurocentric focus and began to include visual and material culture that included media ranging from films to fashion.

The discipline aims to understand visual culture both in its intrinsic nature and in relation to the wider historical and social circumstances in which the works of art and architecture were created.

The Edinburgh degree is unique for a number of reasons:

  • Unlike most History of Art programs in Great Britain, it has a long tradition of including eastern cultures, especially Chinese and Middle Eastern, as an integral component of the program. Similarly, the modern and contemporary areas explore the effects of globalization on art.
  • Edinburgh’s position as a capital city with national collections and archives and a rich architectural heritage is essential to teaching and students’ independent projects. Our ties with institutions such as the national galleries, Historic Scotland etc. have been carefully forged and maintained.
  • Established, independent projects, such as Work Placement and Critical Portfolio, provide students with vocational skills necessary to today’s market.

The programme aims to equip students with:

  • a wide-ranging knowledge of the history of art and visual culture
  • an understanding of the historical, theoretical, and critical frameworks of History of Art and its methodologies
  • a familiarity with the roles of connoisseurship, collecting and criticism  as well as materials and display

Educational aims of programme

  • To enable students to engage in a more specialised way with the periods and cultures that especially interest them, both through their selection of Honours courses and through focussed Project and Dissertation work.  
  • To encourage an awareness of the insights to be gained from studying and analysing works of art in the original, not just in reproduction.  At all levels, teaching is conducted, where practical, in front of objects.
  • To prepare undergraduates for postgraduate study and for a range of careers in teaching, museums, galleries, heritage management and arts administration.  Students may opt for an element of vocational experience through three separate projects: Critical Portfolio, Work Placement and the Analytical Report.
  • o broaden students’ conception of what the history of art might embrace. For example, alongside mainstream post-classical Western art, we have traditionally placed an emphasis in our teaching on Eastern visual cultures, especially Islamic and Chinese.   All students are exposed to such less familiar material in the pre-Honours years, and may opt to undertake more specialist studies at Honours level.

 

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

During the course of the four-year degree programme, we expect our students progressively to develop:

  • Knowledge of the major artistic achievements of a wide range of world cultures.
  • A more sophisticated understanding of particular areas or aspects of the history of art.   This begins with the seminar-based element in pre-Honours teaching, and underpins the increasingly specialised courses that students select in 3rd and 4th year, and also the final-year dissertation (8-10,000 words).
  • An informed awareness of the variety of methods and theoretical frameworks that have shaped the ways in which art historians, past and present, have interpreted works of art. 
  • A capacity to place works of art or architecture in their appropriate historical contexts:  these might include available stylistic and technical resources, the concerns and evolution of individual artists, the determinants of patronage, and prevailing social, economic, political, intellectual, or religious circumstances and beliefs.
  • An ability to understand works of art or architecture as the outcome of a complex process of thought, which might be illuminated by documents, preparatory work, or adjustments and alterations evident within the actual making of the work.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

  • Engaging in independent and small-group work
  • Making appropriate use of published first-hand documentation and historical sources to illuminate works of art.
  • Employing the diverse resources that are available for obtaining information, ideas and images, such as books, journals, the internet, and slide and image libraries
  • Taking account of the element of interpretation that is necessarily involved in the display of any work of art, including the conservation to which it may have been submitted.  From first-year onwards, teaching will take place, where appropriate, in front of works in, for example, the National Gallery of Scotland.  In third year, students have the opportunity to take a Work Placement in a museum, gallery or arts organisation

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

By engaging with and completing the degree in History of Art, graduates will be able to develop and demonstrate:

  • appropriate intellectual scepticism, and a willingness to challenge received assumptions
  • ability to evaluate the different positions and arguments that arise in solving particular art-historical problems.
  • ability to read secondary texts critically, with an awareness of the assumptions and attitudes that underpin interpretation
  • ability to work independently, through the production of essays, and also, at Honours level, of longer pieces of written work, with supervision from academic staff.  In third year, students undertake Project Work, for which the following options are currently available: the Work Placement, the Critical Portfolio and the Analytical Report.  Each results in a written report.   In fourth year, they compile a 8-10,000 word dissertation.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

By engaging with and completing the degree in History of Art, graduates will be able to develop and demonstrate the ability to:

  • communicate an approach to a particular issue in a concise, lucid and coherent form, both oral and written
  • communicate effectively with other people, using verbal and written means and through presentations;
  • select the appropriate means and style of communication, in order to put ideas across effectively to differing audiences

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

By engaging with and completing the degree in History of Art, graduates will be able to develop and demonstrate

  • effective time management
  • the capacity to respond positively and creatively to criticism and feedback, while maintaining confidence in their own abilities
  • an understanding of the variety of contexts within which individual thought and practice operate
  • an awareness of personal strengths and areas for development

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

  • Knowledge of how to use and construct bibliographies.
  • The use of information technology, including word-processing, e-mail and on-line resources.
  • A sophisticated grasp of specialised terminology current within the discipline, including a capacity to describe the material, technical and formal features of a given work of art.

Programme structure and features

The undergraduate degree is a four-year degree.  The programme is arranged across eight 13 week teaching semesters, and 4 shorter periods in the summers devoted to examining.  The first two years comprise pre-Honours, and 3rd and 4th years constitute Honours.  Progression to Honours normally requires a pass (40%) in all courses taken in the first two years. However, passes (40%) in History of Art 2, Classical Art 2A: The Development of Greek and Roman Art and Architectural History 2B are required at the first attempt

PROGRAMME OF STUDY:

Year 1 COMPULSORY COURSES This year has 2 compulsory course(s).

Code

Course Name

Period

Credits

HIAR08009

History of Art 1

As available

40

ARHI08005

Architectural History 1

As available

40

COURSE OPTIONS This year has 1 set of course options with the following rules: Select exactly 40 credits from

Level 7 and 8 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W, as available

Year 2 COMPULSORY COURSES This year has 3 compulsory course(s).

Code

Course Name

Period

Credits

HIAR08012

History of Art 2

As available

40

CACA08009

Classical Art 2A: The Development of Greek and Roman Art

As available

20

ARHI08003

Architectural History 2B

As available

20

COURSE OPTIONS This year has 1 set of course options with the following rules: Select exactly 40 credits from

Level 7 and 8 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W, as available

Year 3 This year has no compulsory courses.

COURSE OPTIONS This year has 5 sets of course options with the following rules: Students must select at least one course and a maximum of two courses from the second set and at least one course and a maximum of two courses from the third set. Students must take 4 courses (80 credits) in total. They may also take up to a maximum of two courses from the final list. Students must take 4 courses (80 credits) in total.

Over both honours years, and including the 4th year dissertation, students must take a minimum of 80 credits and maximum of 100 credits in self-directed study options.

Course sets: Select exactly 40 credits from the following list of courses, as available:

Code

Course Name

Credits

HIAR10025

History of Art Critical Portfolio

40

HIAR10024

History of Art Work Placement

40

HIAR10004

History of Art Analytical Report (A)

20

HIAR10031

History of Art Analytical Report B

20

AND

Select a minimum of 20 credits and maximum of 40 credits from the following list of courses, as available

Code

Course Name

Credits

HIAR10082

The Rise of Islamic Art

20

HIAR10068

Sinners, Saints and Seers: Scottish, Irish and English art from 600-900

20

HIAR10008

Antiquity Recovered: Imag(in)ing Pompeii and Herculaneum

20

HIAR10070

Rome: From Imperial Capital to Holy City, c. 300-1300

20

HIAR10013

The Detailed Imagination: Netherlandish Painting in the Age of Jan van Eyck

20

ARHI10035

Scottish Architecture: Context and Conservation

20

Select a minimum of 20 credits and maximum of 40 credits from the following list of courses, as available

 Code

Course Name

Credits

HIAR10078

Velázquez in context

20

ARHI10005

Evolution of the Edinburgh Townscape

20

ARHI10031

Leon Battista Alberti: Theory & Practice of the Visual Arts in 15th-century Italy

20

HIAR10108

Romanticism to Expressionism

20

HIAR10114

How to Make Italian Renaissance Art: Media, Methods and Materials in Theory and Practice 1400-1550

20

Select a minimum of 0 credits and maximum of 40 credits from the following list of courses, as available

Code

Course Name

Credits

HIAR10082

The Rise of Islamic Art

20

HIAR10068

Sinners, Saints and Seers: Scottish, Irish and English art from 600-900

20

HIAR10008

Antiquity Recovered: Imag(in)ing Pompeii and Herculaneum

20

HIAR10013

The Detailed Imagination: Netherlandish Painting in the Age of Jan van Eyck

20

HIAR10029

Europe 1900: Nationalism and Decadence at the Fin-De-Siecle

20

HIAR10035

Scottish Art in the Age of Change 1945-2000

20

HIAR10078

Velázquez in context

20

HIAR10070

Rome: From Imperial Capital to Holy City, c. 300-1300

20

HIAR10097

The Death and Life of Painting

20

HIAR10104

Dada and Surrealism: The Shattered Subject

20

ARHI10027

Architecture and Empire in Britain and the British Colonial World 1783 - 1947

20

ARHI10032

Barcelona and Modernity

20

ARHI10035

Scottish Architecture: Context and Conservation

20

HIAR10107

Modern Art in Shanghai, 1840-1930

20

HIAR10066

Sexual Politics and the Image

20

ARHI10005

Evolution of the Edinburgh Townscape

20

ARHI10031

Leon Battista Alberti: Theory & Practice of the Visual Arts in 15th-century Italy

20

HIAR10108

Romanticism to Expressionism

20

HIAR10114

How to Make Italian Renaissance Art: Media, Methods and Materials in Theory and Practice 1400-1550

20

Select a minimum of 0 credits and maximum of 40 credits from Level 9 and 10 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W, as available

Year 4 COMPULSORY COURSES

This year has 1 compulsory course:

Code

Course Name

Period

Credits

HIAR10006

Dissertation (History of Art and Combined Degrees)

As available

40

COURSE OPTIONS This year has 4 sets of course options with the following rules: Students must select at least one course and a maximum of two courses from the second set and at least one course and a maximum of two courses from the third set. They may also take up to a maximum of two courses from the final list of all courses. Students should be taking 4 courses (80 credits) in total.

Select a minimum of 20 credits and maximum of 40 credits from the following list of courses, as available

Code

Course Name

Credits

HIAR10074

Persian Painting

20

HIAR10014

Expanding Vision: Visual Culture in France from the Limbourgs to Leonardo

20

HIAR10106

Chinese Painting and Calligraphy: The Elite World of China

20

HIAR10084

Eve's Children: Art and Gender 600-1400

20

ARHI10035

Scottish Architecture: Context and Conservation

20

Select a minimum of 20 credits and maximum of 40 credits from the following list of courses, as available

Code

Course Name

Credits

HIAR10053

The Renaissance Body

20

HIAR10014

Expanding Vision: Visual Culture in France from the Limbourgs to Leonardo

20

HIAR10009

From Jacobitism to Romanticism: The (Re)invention of Scotland in Visual and Material Culture

20

HIAR10016

Rubens and His World

20

ARHI10005

Evolution of the Edinburgh Townscape

20

ARHI10031

Leon Battista Alberti: Theory & Practice of the Visual Arts in 15th-century Italy

20

Select a minimum of 0 credits and maximum of 40 credits from the following list of courses, as available

Code

Course Name

Credits

HIAR10074

Persian Painting

20

HIAR10014

Expanding Vision: Visual Culture in France from the Limbourgs to Leonardo

20

HIAR10030

France, 1850-1900: Visual Culture and Social Change

20

HIAR10077

Impressionism, Decadence, Rhythm: Artists in France and Britain 1870-1914

20

HIAR10034

Myth and History in Scottish Modern and Contemporary Art 1945-2000

20

HIAR10016

Rubens and His World

20

HIAR10053

The Renaissance Body

20

HIAR10009

From Jacobitism to Romanticism: The (Re)invention of Scotland in Visual and Material Culture

20

HIAR10109

Expressionism, Dada, Bauhaus and Beyond

20

HIAR10106

Chinese Painting and Calligraphy: The Elite World of China

20

HIAR10084

Eve's Children: Art and Gender 600-1400

20

HIAR10065

The Aesthetics and Politics of Contemporary Art

20

ARHI10005

Evolution of the Edinburgh Townscape

20

ARHI10027

Architecture and Empire in Britain nd the British Colonial World 1783 - 1947

20

ARHI10032

Barcelona and Modernity

20

HIAR10105

Art After Photography

20

HIAR10086

Francis Bacon and his Artistic Affinities

20

ARHI10031

Leon Battista Alberti: Theory & Practice of the Visual Arts in 15th-century Italy

20

ARHI10035

Scottish Architecture: Context and Conservation

20

Select a minimum of 0 credits and maximum of 40 credits from Level 10 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W, as available

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Teaching and Learning strategies employed at the University of Edinburgh consist of a variety of different methods appropriate to the programme aims. The graduate attributes listed above are met through a teaching and learning framework (detailed below) which is appropriate to the level and content of the course.

Teaching Methods: As the degree unfolds, there is gradually less emphasis in the teaching on formal lectures, and more on small group seminar teaching.   At each stage within the degree, courses and independent learning projects are conceived as progressively more challenging for students.

Teaching and Research: In the Honours years especially, students benefit from studying fields and topics in the History of Art which relate closely to the current research interests of members of staff. This can provide first-hand insight into the process of developing new approaches and knowledge, which students usually find very stimulating

Choice:  Throughout the programme students have the opportunity to take courses in other academic disciplines. Students choose Honours courses from a wide list of options, and construct their own programme of study in consultation with their Director of Studies.   There are several options for 3rd year Project work, and the Dissertation topic arises from the personal engagement and enthusiasm of the individual student.

Facilities: Students have access to the specialist collections held in the ECA Library, Evolution House and Art and Architecture library, Minto House, as well as to the other University libraries.  There are a range of other library facilities in the city, including the Fine Art department of Edinburgh City Library and the National Library of Scotland, situated very near ECA’s buildings.   Edinburgh’s many galleries and museums provide not only collections and exhibitions useful for teaching and personal research, but also an extensive range of educational events, from lectures to conferences.

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 123770
Year 223770
Year 312880
Year 411890

Assessment methods and strategies

Assessment. Students are required to pass all first year courses to proceed into second year, and to achieve a higher level of pass in their second year History of Art courses in order to proceed to Honours.   The final degree is based on the more varied kinds of teaching and independent learning that characterise the Honours years.  Third and Fourth year Honours courses are assessed by a combination of essay and examination (each weighted at 50%). 

Students in all years for the programme are encouraged to attend and participate in research seminars and the wide range of public lectures, exhibitions and cultural activities arranged by ECA and the University throughout academic year, and also with the many wider opportunities for engagement with the wider creative culture of Edinburgh, Scotland and beyond as they present themselves.

Teaching and Learning Activities

In All years

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials, including presentations

In Honours years

  • Optional work placement
  • Personal research work via dissertation

Feedback: Written work is usually returned, and feedback provided, at individual tutorials.  Project Work is supported by supervision and group discussions, the Dissertation by the supervision of an individual member of staff who specialises in the area.

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 142058
Year 226272
Year 333067
Year 433067

Career opportunities

History of Art students from Edinburgh have gone to all manner of successful careers in the art world, working in education, the museum and commercial galleries sectors, the heritage industry, and arts administration.  The Work Placements scheme has prepared our students for employment. The University Careers service also offers effective help and advice.

Other items

Study Abroad: The University has well-established exchange schemes in place with leading Universities in North America and Europe.  Many students over the years have arranged to spend the whole of third year abroad.