Why Study History of Art at Christ's?

Visiting Christ's
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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.


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.

What do our students think?

Student Q&A film
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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"


How to apply

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.

  • On interviews: students who apply in October 2022 and are selected for interview will be interviewed online - you will not need to travel to Cambridge. For more detail see the interviews section below.
  • The written assessment for History of Art is College registered. That means that you do not need to register for it. If you are invited for online interviews, we will organise it for you automatically. See the written assessment section below.

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. There are no required subjects. 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 or 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 (online in 2022)

If we invite you for interviews, these usually take place in early December. Those invited for Cambridge interviews are normally interviewed for 35-50 minutes in total. At Christ’s, we usually split the time into two interviews with academics in History of Art. 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.

Written Assessment (College registered)

If we invite you for interview in Cambridge we ask you to take a written assessment at the end of November. 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 subject content, in the University History or Art information. See the entrance requirements tab.

You will be able to complete the assessment remotely and upload your work - you will not need to travel for it. Details of how the assessment will work will be given to students selected for interview by email.


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.
HE+ History of Art Website for secondary school students who would like to explore History of Art.
CamGuides Introducing the academic and information skills that you will need during your studies, as well as how and where you would be working.

Events (online / in person)

Our open days and events page advertises regular online opportunities as well as events you can attend in Cambridge. If you can, sign up for a College Open Day (our October, February and September events normally include a meeting with a subject specialist). Between February and August we run regular webinars:

  • Subject Matters: The importance of post-16 subject choices (this one is also run Sept - Nov)
  • Cambridge for Beginners
  • Christ's College: A look at the Grounds and Facilities
  • Personal Statements and preparing for an application

Further subject-specific opportunities you might wish to consider include Subject Masterclasses organised by Cambridge Admissions Office, and subject-specific talks in the July Cambridge Open Days. If you are a UK student from a background where there is little tradition of entry to Higher Education, you can apply to attend a Sutton Trust Summer School in History of Art or to shadow a current undergraduate studying History of Art via the Cambridge SU Shadowing Scheme (do be aware that there's a high proportion of applicants to places for both of these last two opportunities so please don't be discouraged if you don't get a place).

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."