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Department of History of Art



The History of Art course introduces you to the history of western and some non-western art and architecture from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century. Cambridge undergraduate courses 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 and architecture with a focus on the world-class collections and buildings on our 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 art, Renaissance Italy, Early Modern British art and architecture, eighteenth-twentieth-century European art, Surrealism, and contemporary art. Alongside these ‘Option Papers’, you will take a compulsory course each year. 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, art historians and theorists 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 affect the impression it makes on the viewer. There are also opportunities to pursue independent research on a topic of your choice for the compulsory dissertations that students write in the first and third years.