skip to primary navigationskip to content

Course Overview

Barbara Rae

Detail from Evening at Mecina Fondales (n.d. pre 1993) by Barbara Rae (Credit: Kettle's Yard)

The History of Art Tripos introduces you to the history of western art and architecture, mainly from the Middle Ages to the mid-twentieth century. Cambridge ‘Triposes’ are divided into two parts, of one or two years each. In Part I (year 1) you will gain an overview of over 2000 years of art and architectural history, exploring the meanings and materials of art, with a special focus on the world-class collections on our own doorstep, in Cambridge’s many museums and colleges. In Part II (years 2-3) you will have the opportunity to specialise in areas that interest you. The courses offered change from year to year, but typically include Medieval English and/or French art, Renaissance Italy, Early Modern British art and architecture, nineteenth- and twentieth-century Modern art, and Surrealism. Alongside these ‘Special Subjects’ (two each year, taken in separate terms), you will take two general courses. The ‘Approaches’ course (year 2) will introduce you to History of Art’s own history, as you discover how 2,000 years of philosophers, historians and art historians have approached the study of art. In year 3, you will learn about the history of the ‘Display’ of art; how museums and collections developed, and how the physical context of an object in an exhibition, gallery or private collection can alter and distort the impression it makes on the viewer. There are also several opportunities to pursue independent research on a self-chosen topic, including the final year dissertation.