A-Z of Degrees: History of Art: Join the Cultural Evolution ; Our Weekly Series Designed to Help You Pick the Right Course. This Week: History of Art
Hodges, Lucy, The Independent (London, England)
What do you come out with? BA.
Why do it? Because you're interested in art or history or both and you know this degree has as much credibility in the jobs market as many other arts degrees. You think it will help you get a job as a museum curator - and it might. Or you fancy a job in a gallery.
What's it about? Some departments run "survey courses" which means you study everyone from Giotto to Cezanne. University College London falls into that category but also includes courses in philosophy, history and anthropology and gives you great dollops of theory as well. Sussex includes art from Asia, China and Japan as well as the history of architecture, Renaissance formal jewellery etc. Leeds introduces you to contemporary theory and culture. Plus the Leeds students study with art practitioners which locates them firmly in the present. Brighton has two degrees - in the history of design, culture and society and the history of decorative arts and crafts. In the former you study everything from the history of knickers to Philippe Starck's kitchenware. Falmouth College of Arts has a new degree in the history of modern art and design starting in 2001.
How long is a degree? Three years; four years in Scotland or if combined with a language.
What are the students like? Prince William. Depending on his A- level results today, the speculation is that he will be taking up a place on an art history course at St Andrew's after his gap year. But generally, more women than men, but not at Leeds where it's half and half. Some universities have an overwhelmingly private school intake. UCL is trying to do something about that, it says. There are quite a few mature students at Brighton.
How is it packaged? At Brighton University, it's 20 per cent exams to 80 per cent course work. At Sussex exams are less than 50 per cent of the course. At Leeds and Birkbeck it's 50:50. At UCL it's 60:40.
How cool is it? Coolish, particularly the more modern bits.
What A-levels do you need? Anything goes at most places. History is obviously useful. So are English, modern languages, and sociology.
What grades? BBB at Sussex; BBC at Leeds and UCL; BB to CD at Brighton.
Will it keep you off the dole? Yes. Graduates go to work for museums, galleries, the education sector, the heritage industry, picture research and conservation, and auction houses.
Will you be interviewed? Yes at Brighton and UCL. No at Leeds and Sussex, where they hold open days instead.
What do students say? "Art history at Sussex is very good. I enjoyed the interdisciplinary nature of the system. The faculty has a wide range of interests. I studied 15th-century Italian decorative arts alongside 20th-century photography, so I got a broad grounding." (Judith Green, graduated with a first class degree in 1995). "The course is extremely interesting. We cover 200 years of decorative art history in quite a short time. I think that we could have done with another day of lectures a week. I feel as though I know a little about a lot but I still don't know a lot about anything. …