Art history

Critically assess art from the medieval period to the present day, and learn to analyse its 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 art, performance art, graphic art and photography. 

Students visiting art gallery


Postgraduate taught

Postgraduate research

The School of Art History offers PhD and MPhil research degrees. Research strengths 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 history of art

Guardian University Guide 2023

First in Scotland and second in the UK for history of art

The Complete University Guide 2023

97% of research activity rated 3* or 4*

Most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021)