Join world-leading experts, benefit from proximity to London’s art collections and galleries, and take advantage of all the resources in Kent’s School of Arts including the Studio 3 Gallery and the student-curated, museum-standard Kent Print Collection, which includes works by artists from Dürer to Tracey Emin, and Gilbert & George to Liliane Lijn.
Why study Art History at Kent?
Our curriculum is inclusive, with a global reach. You might explore how disability is represented in the arts, find out how art can be made more accessible to everyone, discover how LGBT+ groups are represented (or not) in the arts, or ask what diversity in the media should look likeCreativity is at the heart of everything we do. You will have the opportunity to curate your own exhibition, publish a catalogue, take photographs, create a portfolio of drawings, put on a fashion show, and even, like a Surrealist, analyse your dreams.Get career-ready. You’ll graduate with skills such as curating, writing to publication standards, or producing a portfolio that meets a creative brief. Our close links with arts institutions and galleries and our vibrant alumni community will give you access to a professional network from day one.Become an art historian. You won’t just learn about the history of great art; you’ll discover how art is created and perceived, and how ancient debates about art can help us tackle contemporary questionsYour degree, your way. Our teaching brings the subject to life and encourages you to think independently. Customise your studies with elective modules, a year abroad or in industry, and a host of extra-curricular courses.
Our multidisciplinary team includes practising artists, art historians, curators and theorists. Located in the southeast of England, we’re at the centre of a thriving arts culture including The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge in Canterbury, Turner Contemporary in Margate, the Folkestone Triennial and Whitstable Biennale, which are all within a short distance.
What our students say:
"My proudest achievement at Kent would definitely be organising and curating a public exhibition. Over the course of a term we got the opportunity to liaise with artists and contact galleries to put together an exhibition of almost 50 art works which was open to the public for two weeks. It was hugely exciting!" - Georgina Rehaag, BA Art History.
Art History at Kent is ranked 5th in the Complete University Guide 2022 and achieved a 100% overall approval rating in the National Student Survey 2021.
Art History at Kent looks forward, informed by the way that the arts have developed over hundreds of years. You’ll find modules that range from Plato to contemporary photography, debate cutting-edge issues in digital culture, and consider how the art world might change in the future.
Your first year will give you compulsory and optional modules that give you a broad introduction to the subject.
In your second year, you will be able to tailor your degree and choose from (subject to approval) topics such as:
Photography: Contexts of PracticeMuseum StudiesDialogues: Global Perspectives on Art HistorySurrealism: Myth and ModernityPrint Collecting and CuratingThe Art of the Nineteenth CenturyLatin American ArtThe Dutch Golden Age: Seventeenth-Century Art and CultureThe Art and Aesthetics of the Natural Environment.
Your third year courses are likely to include:
Study of a Single ArtistArts CriticismDrawing: History and PracticeThe Art and Architecture of the RenaissanceCostume and FashionSex, Gender and Digital Culture.
During your course you are likely to be writing essays and giving presentations, but might also find yourself producing creative and digital portfolios, curating exhibitions, creating photographs and drawings, or putting on fashion shows.
An Arts Internship or an Arts Project module will help shape your own independent project, giving you valuable professional skills. You might also choose to take modules from other subject areas, subject to availability, to make your degree your own.
Tailor your course to suit you with Kent Extra, which provides a range of co-curricular activities to enhance your employability and add a new dimension to student life. You can spend a year abroad, work in industry, attend a summer school, volunteer, or take a Study Plus course. You could even add a year in Computing, Data Analytics, Journalism or a Language to your degree.
Do you have a passion for film? BA Art History and Film is also available.
Your Art History course will provide you with skills and experiences that will equip you for a career in the art world.
In the course of their degree our students participate in curating, cataloguing, purchasing art works, editing, publishing, picture research and copyright, negotiating loans, art handling, interviewing, logistics and planning, fundraising, managing a budget, marketing and publicity, event management, education, and a range of different types of art writing from exhibition proposals to press releases.
This will give you a real experience of what it is like to work in a museum or gallery, and key professional skills that will enhance your employability.
Art History, like other Humanities subjects, also provides valuable transferable skills like research, analysis, and communication. It is particularly important for developing visual literacy, an increasingly important skill in an image-saturated world.
We are proud that School of Arts graduates have taken the skills they developed at Kent into to successful careers in a wide range of arts organisations including national institutions like The Royal Academy and The Art Fund, national and regional museums, and commercial art galleries and auction houses.
To find out more about the Department, our students, staff and alumni, visit our blog, Artistry.
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 discipline 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 resources 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.