University of Oxford: History of Art and Visual Culture

InstitutionUniversity of Oxford
Department History of Art
Telephone 01865 270059
Study type Taught


**The information provided on this page was correct at the time of publication (November 2019). For complete and up-to-date information about this course, please visit the relevant University of Oxford course page via**

This nine-month programme offers a unique combination of methodological depth and access to excellent primary sources for students who wish to develop and extend their understanding of how visual styles at different times and in different places can be understood in relation to the aesthetic, intellectual and social facets of various cultures.

This course draws on the established strengths of the discipline of art history in formal, iconographic and contextual analysis in the Faculty of History's History of Art Department and links them to a rigorous approach to questions of theory and method.

The course will expose you to the ways in which the subjects of visual history are being redefined on a broad base to include a much wider range of artefacts and visual media, including images and objects produced in contexts ranging from the scientific to the popular.

Teaching and examination comprise:
- a compulsory methodology paper, Theories and Methods in the History of Art, which is taught in class and lecture series during Michaelmas and Hilary terms. There is also an associated lecture series and object-handling sessions in Oxford collections. It is assessed through three short essays in an examination at the end of Trinity term;

- one option paper, normally taught in small classes during Michaelmas and Hilary terms. Assessment is through two extended essays of between 4,000 and 5,000 words each. Students receive one-on-one supervision when preparing their essays. Some of the option papers will not be available every year, and new ones may be added. Prospective students should check on the availability of specific courses during the application process; and

- a dissertation of up to 15,000 words completed independently, under the guidance of an expert supervisor, on an topic of your choice and approved by the supervisor and the chair of examiners for the programme. The dissertation is submitted in Trinity term.

Please note that not every optional subject listed may be on offer every year, depending in part on levels of student demand. Full details of core and optional papers are available on the course webpage.

If you wish to apply for a doctoral programme, at Oxford or elsewhere, you will be encouraged to develop your doctoral proposal during the first few months of the course so that you will be well placed to make doctoral applications during or soon after completing the course.


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