Kent's School of Arts is well-known for its innovative programmes in the visual arts. Our Art History programme combines a comprehensive review of art movements, artists and artistic media with opportunities to put your knowledge into practice.
As an arts student, you become part of an artistic community based within the School of Arts’ Jarman building – a creative hub for students of art history, film, drama and media studies.
Our degree programme
This programme offers a critically engaging and expansive approach to the discipline of art history. It equips you with the key visual, critical and professional skills necessary for a career in the art world and for a range of other employment opportunities.
In your first year, you take an introductory module on the history of art. Further modules are available on the philosophy of art, photography or contemporary art. You can also choose modules from our film or drama degrees, or from other humanities subjects.
Throughout your second and third years, you develop and expand your engagement with the discipline through a range of specialist modules. As well as options that explore Renaissance and Baroque art, modernism, contemporary art, Surrealism, photography and aesthetics, the degree also offers an introduction to work-related skills directly relevant to employment in the visual arts sector, such as visual arts writing and exhibition curation.
To enhance your employability, you have the opportunity to undertake an internship. Spending time on a placement you gain invaluable workplace experience and also have the chance to evaluate a particular career path. We offer all our students support with their CVs and personal statements. See Course structure for more details.
You can also choose to study abroad for a term or a year but certain conditions apply. In the past, students have spent time in countries including Canada and Hong Kong, as well as countries in Europe. See Course structure for more details.
This programme can also be studied on a part-time basis and as part of a joint honours degree, combined with programmes such as English Literature, History and Archaeology or with a European language.
Our first-class resources allow us to offer innovative modules and ways of learning. These include:
the Studio 3 Gallery – a high-calibre exhibition space where you can develop professional curatorial and gallery management skills the Kent Print Collection – our collection of works by contemporary artists and Old Masters gives you the chance to get involved in the acquisition of valuable works of art on behalf of the department.
All modules are assessed by coursework – essays, presentations, image or text analyses and other module-related activities. We do not schedule exams. This approach to assessment helps you to develop an in-depth knowledge of topics within modules that are most interesting and relevant to your study aims, and to acquire a wide range of generic and transferable skills.
Our programmes emphasise a close working relationship with students. The academic adviser system ensures that all of our students have access to a designated tutor for pastoral support and academic guidance throughout their time at Kent.
All modules include weekly lectures and small group seminars, but a distinctive feature is that many modules involve visits to London galleries, overseas visits to museums and other out-of-classroom activities. Helping students to acquire independence of thought and the skills of autonomous study are central to our teaching ethos.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- particular forms of the visual arts and the way in which they can be interpreted
- the historical evolution of visual traditions, artistic movements, media and genres of art
- the works of a range of significant artists, in particular from the Renaissance to the present day
- the cultural, social and historical contexts in which works of art are produced, and the uses to which they are put
- the techniques and processes through which artefacts are constructed in the cultures studied
- modes, formal conventions and styles of representation in the fine arts, photography and related visual media
- critical tools, theories and concepts that have evolved for interpreting works of art
- methodologies and approaches to the study of visual arts, including the terminology used in art history
- substantive areas of current research in history of art.
You develop intellectual abilities in the following:
- engaging critically with major thinkers, intellectual paradigms, scholarly literature and issues and debates within art history
- understanding the historical emergence of forms of visual culture and the discipline of art history
- undertaking informed examination of the social and historical context in which art is produced
- combining empirical and historical information with relevant concepts in articulating your knowledge and understanding of the discpline of art history
- applying your knowledge and experience to address problems within the subject
- analysing and interpreting works of art in a manner that demonstrates critical evaluation and contextual understanding
- critically reflecting upon your own work and your understanding of the subject in an open-minded and receptive manner to unfamiliar artefacts, issues and ideas
- conducting various forms of research for essays, projects, seminar assignments and dissertations involving independent inquiry
- formulating appropriate research questions and employing suitable methods and reources for exploring those questions
- drawing upon and evaluating a range of sources and the conceptual frameworks appropriate to researching in the chosen subject area
- reflecting upon the underlying cultural and epistemological assumptions that structure the understanding of the chosen subject.
You gain subject-specific skills in the following:
- analysing and interpreting visual artefacts with an informed knowledge of the conventions of visual traditions
- critical skills of visual observation, description and analysis
- the effective deployment of terms and concepts specific to history of art
- locating and evaluating evidence from a wide range of primary and secondary sources (visual, oral or textual) and interpreting it in relation to relevant issues and inquiries
- drawing upon and bringing together ideas from different sources of knowledge, not only from the subject area but also from other academic disciplines
- articulating an understanding of visual media orally and in writing
- demonstrating the ability to marshal an argument, summarise and defend or critique a particular interpretation or analysis supported by relevant visual, textual or other evidence as appropriate
- evaluating a range of different methodologies and approaches within the subject.
You gain transferable skills in the following:
- organising information clearly, responding to written sources, presenting information orally and adapting your style for different audiences, using images as a communication tool; presenting arguments cogently and effectively in written, spoken or other form
- IT – producing written documents, undertaking online research, communicate using email and process information using databases
- exploring your personal strengths and weaknesses, critical and analytical skills, self-discipline and self-direction, independence of thought, time management and develop specialist learning skills, such as foreign languages, seeking and utilising feedback and critically reflecting upon and improving your own performance
- working with others, in particular define and review the work of others, work co-operatively on group tasks and understand how groups function
- problem solving – identifying and defining problems, exploring alternative solutions and discriminating between them. Focusing and applying attention to detail and working diligently to fulfil briefs and deadlines and taking responsibility for your own work.
Our aims are to provide students with:
- a broad understanding of the history of art, as well as a critical and analytical approach to interpreting art and the opportunity to study selected areas of art history in depth
- an informed knowledge of the principles of art history, visual traditions and traditions of art historical writing
- teaching that is informed by current research and scholarship
- knowledge to enhance students' awareness of sensitivity to the context of the production and reception of the arts over a range of historical periods
- the ability to think, and work, independently
- a distinctive focus on interdisciplinary and practice-based learning
- the ability to interact with others and develop critical reflexivity in individual and group work
- opportunities to develop students' personal, communication, research and other key skills.