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Art history

Critically assess art from the medieval to modern periods, and learn to analyse their style, content, meaning, theory and aesthetics.

At St Andrews, you will focus on the major arts of painting, sculpture and architecture, but your studies can also encompass applied arts, performance arts, graphic arts and photography. 

Students visiting art gallery


Postgraduate taught

Postgraduate research

The School of Art History offers PhD and MPhil research degrees. Research strength and supervision areas include:

  • western and Islamic medieval objects
  • early modern painting, architecture and globalisation
  • history of photography
  • modern and contemporary art
  • decorative arts
  • museum studies.

To apply, you should first identify and contact a potential supervisor you would like to work with in your intended research area. Find out how to contact a research supervisor.

“I love how versatile the degree is and how engaging the lectures are. I really value the emphasis on independent research and the range of subjects to study. I like the open-minded attitude of the School of Art History and the small class sizes – you really receive individualised attention. St Andrews strikes the perfect balance between academic rigour and university life. The friendships you cultivate and the calibre of the education you receive is outstanding.”

- California, USA


First in the UK for the history of art

Guardian University Guide 2021

First in Scotland for the history of art

The Complete University Guide 2021

Top in Scotland for research excellence in art history

Most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014)