History of Art

Where better to enjoy an illuminating introduction to the history and criticism of the art and architecture of Western Europe and beyond… than Cambridge? This city is home to a rich architectural heritage and many internationally renowned museums and galleries to enhance your studies.

Why Study History of Art at Christ's?

Christ’s very central location puts you within easy walking distance of the Department of History of Art, several museums and the university library – not to mention the vast range of clubs and societies Cambridge has on offer. Following study here, our graduates go on to work in areas including further education and museums.
 

Course structure and content

The History of Art course (or ‘tripos’) is a three-year degree which focuses on direct contact with, and analysis of, works of art and architecture right from the start.

Please visit the University website for full details of the History of Art course content and structure.
 

Teaching

Your lectures and seminars take place in the Department of History of Art (10 mins walk from Christ’s) and – especially in first year – on site in colleges, chapels, libraries, museums and conservation studios around Cambridge.

You discuss your written work at weekly supervisions (small group teaching sessions with 2 to 3 students) and have regular term-time meetings with Christ’s Director of Studies Dr Lucia Tantardini, whose research centres on the Italian Renaissance and Early Modern period.
 

Student Q&A film
  Watch the Christ's student Q&A film

What do our students think?

Arianna and Ruby are History of Art students here at Christ's. They have written about their experiences in their student profiles:

If you’d like to hear from other Christ’s students, please watch the Christ's student Q&A film, and visit our Student Profiles page.

"It’s worth remembering when considering this course that art can, of course, be very broadly defined"

Arianna

How to apply to Christ's College

Visit How to Apply for full details and a timeline of the application process. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds and school types, all over the world. If you're applying from outside the UK, please read our international students section.
 

News

University-wide statement: In order to minimise Covid-related risks to our applicants, students and staff in the coming undergraduate admissions round, we are making plans to interview applicants this year without requiring them to travel to Cambridge in December. We will release further details about alternative arrangements as soon as we can.

At Christ's we have a page for Coronavirus disruptions and applying this year - we recommend reading and then keeping an eye on it.


Subjects: what do you need?

This is an academic course, so although practical artistic skills may help your understanding of media and technique, they’re not essential. We recommend you study subjects such as the following to A-level (or equivalent):

  • History
  • English
  • A foreign language (especially Italian, French or German)
  • Greek and Latin

You don’t need any previous knowledge of History of Art, but we do expect you to have a basic understanding of the subject and to show enthusiasm for, and visual sensitivity to, works of art.

Written work

After we receive your application, we ask you to send us one essay you feel accurately reflects your abilities and interests. This should be work written during the normal course of your studies and already marked by a teacher. We recommend you keep a copy for your own reference as we may discuss it at interview.

We publish full guidelines on written work in the Current Applicants section on 20 September each year.

Interviews

University-wide statement: In order to minimise Covid-related risks to our applicants, students and staff in the coming undergraduate admissions round, we are making plans to interview applicants this year without requiring them to travel to Cambridge in December. We will release further details about alternative arrangements as soon as we can. This does mean that there may be changes to the details of interviews below (which sets out what normally happens).

If we invite you for interview in Cambridge, you have two interviews in early December. As part of the interviews, we usually show you one or more images/works of art and ask for your comments.

Read the information and watch the short films on Cambridge admissions interviews for an idea of what to expect when you come. In the case of History of Art, international applicants are advised to apply for interview in Cambridge rather than an overseas interview (please check the eligibility criteria for any overseas interview location you are considering).

Admissions Assessment

If we invite you for interview in Cambridge we ask you to take a written assessment, usually on the same day. We arrange this automatically so you don’t need to register, and you do the same assessment regardless of which college you apply to. This assessment forms part of our holistic admissions process and examines your academic abilities, knowledge-base and potential.

Read more about the assessment, including sample papers and subject content, on the University Admissions website.

Offers

Our typical offer for History of Art is

  • A*AA at A-level (with the A* in a subject other than Art and Design)
  • 42 points overall in the International Baccalaureate Diploma with 7,7,6 at Higher Level
  • If you're taking another qualification, we expect you to be working at or close to the top of the mark range i.e.
    • Option Internationale du Baccalaureat: at least 17/20 overall, with 17 or 18 in relevant subjects
    • European Baccalaureate: at least 85% overall, with 9/10 in relevant subjects

Read about offer levels in other exam systems and international entrance requirements.

If you will have finished school when you apply, read about post-qualification applications.
 

Helpful resources

Suggested reading Advice from the History of Art department

The Fitzwilliam Museum

The University of Cambridge's arts and antiquities museum
Kettle's Yard The University of Cambridge's contemporary art collection
Museums, exhibitions and buildings near you or in places you are visiting.

Visit when you can, taking descriptive notes / sketches / photographs of what you see. If you're looking for suggestions try museums.co.uk or Google for art galleries and museums in your area

Art UK A showcase of the UK's national art collection
Art History Journal The journal of the Association of Art History
Google Arts & Culture Explore collections of museums and galleries around the world/
Slade Art lectures David Ekserdjian on Drawing in Italy before 1500; Michelangelo; Raphael; Correggio; Parmigianino; and Barocci.
Dawn Ades on Surrealism and Art History (lecture 1; lecture 2; lecture 3; lecture 4; lecture 5; lecture 6; lecture 7; lecture  8)
ARTiculation  A public speaking initiative designed to promote the appreciation and discussion of visual culture.
CamGuides Introducing the academic and information skills that you will need during your studies, as well as how and where you would be working.


Come to an Open Day or Online Event

Online events: Our open days and events page advertises online opportunities as well as events you can attend in Cambridge.

If you can come along to a College Open Day, we‘ll be glad to tell you more about the College and what it’s like to study History of Art here.
 

Need more information?

For more detail of what the course involves, please read Undergraduate History of Art admissions on the University website and visit the Department of History of Art site too.

If you have any questions, please get in touch at admissions@christs.cam.ac.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

"For History of Art you want a place with galleries nearby, because it’s important to be able to look at art first hand. For me Cambridge was the right balance of city to art."

Arianna