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Art History MA (Hons) 2021 entry

The MA (Hons) in Art History will teach you to critically and perceptively assess artworks of all kinds, allowing you to become visually and verbally articulate. The main focus of the course is on the major arts of painting, sculpture and architecture, but it also encompasses the applied arts, graphic arts and photography.

As part of your degree, you will learn to analyse the style, content, meaning, theory and aesthetics behind works of art. You will learn different approaches to art by studying patronage and social significance, and the implicit and explicit ideas behind each work.

How to apply Register your interest

UCAS code


Course type

Master of Arts (single Honours degree)

Course duration

Four years full time

  • Start date: 6 September 2021
  • End date: 30 June 2025

Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Entry requirements

These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.

    • Standard entry grades: AAAB
    • Minimum entry grades: AABB
    • Gateway entry grades: BBBB
    • Standard entry grades: AAA
    • Minimum entry grades: ABB
    • Standard entry grades: 36 (HL 6,6,5)
    • Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5)

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes. Please see our entry requirements for more information.

For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject specific entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.

International applicants

If English is not your first language you will need an overall IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English Language qualification.

How to apply

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

No previous knowledge of art history is required.

General entry requirements

All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.

Other qualifications

More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.

Course information

The MA (Hons) in Art History is a four-year course run by the School of Art History. Art history is a well-rounded discipline and embraces aspects of economic, social and political history, languages and literature, philosophy, and psychology, providing relevant contexts and critical approaches with which to analyse works of art.

In your first year, you will cover two main areas of study. The first comprises medieval and Renaissance art in Europe and beyond. This provides you with a thematic survey covering painting, sculpture and architecture in Southern and Northern Europe, as well as key points of contact with the non-Western world, from roughly 1300 to 1600. The second is a survey of European art and architecture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It covers the Baroque and Enlightenment eras, global networks of trade and exploration, and an introduction to early modern Islamic art.

In second year, you will take two modules. The first is in the history and theory of European art, architecture and design from the French Revolution to Vienna 1900. This focuses on the most significant art-historical developments of the long 19th century. The second module covers art, culture and politics from 1900 to now. Here you will explore some of the most compelling episodes and issues of international 20- and 21st- century art.

Alongside art history, in the first year of your studies, you will be required to study an additional two subjects. In the second year you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised

During your final two years, you may either retain this chronological breadth of study or choose a more in-depth focus of particular periods or topics. Specialist subject areas may include:

  • 19th-century art
  • 20th-century Modernism
  • Art of the medieval period
  • Contemporary art
  • Gothic architecture
  • History of photography
  • Islamic art
  • African art
  • Orientalism and art 
  • Renaissance painting, sculpture and architecture
  • Russian art.

Final year students must also complete either a 6,000 or 12,000-word dissertation on an art history topic chosen in consultation with teaching staff.

Graduates in art history from St Andrews can expect to have a highly developed sense of independent critical thinking and judgement and will have developed both a broad and in-depth knowledge of art and art history.

The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure web page.

Find out more about studying art history at St Andrews


In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours) you will take the required modules in art history alongside modules in at least one other subject.

Typically, you will take one art history module per semester during your first two years, and two modules per semester during your third and fourth year (known as Honours). Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

Students will take the following first-year modules:

  • The Art of the Renaissance in Italy and Northern Europe: a survey of painting, sculpture and architecture in Italy and northern Europe from 1280 to 1580.
  • European Art and Architecture in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries: an introduction to European art from Baroque Italian architecture to 18th-century French paintings.

Students will take both of the following second-year modules:

  • Art, Culture and Politics, from 1900 to Now: a survey of some of the most compelling episodes in 20th-century art, including Cubism, Abstract Expressionism and Postmodernism.
  • History and Theory of European Art, Architecture and Design from the French Revolution to Vienna 1900: a study of the most significant art developments in 19th-century Europe, along with a close study of the most significant artists and the emergence of avant-garde movements.

If you decide to take art history in your third and fourth years, you choose from a wide variety of advanced options, including modules in medieval art, Gothic architecture, and history of photography. Subject to availability, these may include:

  • African Modernisms
  • The Arts of AFrica: Histories, Themes and European Collections
  • A Survey of Islamic Art
  • Art and Politics in France, 1945-1975
  • Art, Science and Technology 1700 - 1900
  • Histories of Photography (1835 - 1905)
  • Images and Knowledge in Early Modern Europe
  • Leonardo da Vinci, 500 years later
  • Michelangelo: Sculptor, Painter, Architect
  • Modern Art Beyond the West
  • Portuguese Renaissance: From Local to Global
  • Principles and Protagonists of Italian Renaissance Architecture
  • Romanticism and Visuality
  • Seeing the Sixties
  • Spanish Painting in the Age of Velazquez
  • The Arts of Africa: Histories, Themes and European Collections
  • The Art of War:  Battle, Rivalry, Paragone, 1400-1700.

In fourth year, students also undertake either a 6,000 or 12,000-word dissertation on a topic of their choice. This independent project enables you to develop key research skills which are desired by both prospective employers and by graduate schools offering postgraduate degrees.

The compulsory modules listed here must be taken in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules appropriate to the programme for the current academic year can be found in the programme requirements.


Teaching format

Art history sub-honours modules are primarily delivered through formal lectures (130 to 200 students) complemented by small group tutorials (8 to 10 students). Lectures are illustrated by visual presentations, with tutorials providing an opportunity for students to develop and discuss their thinking in a small and friendly environment.

At Honours level, students attend smaller lectures (15 to 25 students) along with seminars (8 to 12 students).

Regular visits, both at sub-honours and Honours level, are organised to galleries and museums around Scotland.

When not attending lectures, tutorials and seminars you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study.  Typically, this will involve:

  • working on individual and group projects
  • undertaking research in the library
  • preparing coursework assignments and presentations
  • preparing for examinations.

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise in art history. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module co-ordinator.

You can find contact information for all art history staff on the School of Art History website.

In addition to your studies in the School of Art History, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University.

The University’s Student Services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page. 



Almost all the modules in Art history are assessed by a balanced combination of coursework and written exams. At Honours level, some modules are assessed entirely by coursework, while others include written examinations.

Examinations are held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand.

The School aims to provide feedback on assessments and coursework within three week to help you improve on future assessments.

Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale

Meet us online

If you're interested in studying at St Andrews, join us on a virtual visiting day or daily information session to find out about our courses, how to apply, and to meet current students.


Upcoming online visiting days:

  • Wednesday 30 September 2020
  • Wednesday 7 October 2020
  • Wednesday 14 October 2020
  • Wednesday 28 October 2020
  • Wednesday 4 November 2020


Tuition fees for 2021 entry

Scotland Tuition fees for Scottish applicants have yet to be set for 2021 entry.
Rest of the UK £9,250
EU and overseas £25,100

For overseas students, tuition fees will be fixed at this level for the duration of your programme.

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Accommodation fees 

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation. 

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year.

In taking a joint degree, you are required to take core modules in all of your subjects. Find out more about joint degrees.

Your future


A degree in art history provides an excellent foundation for a career in museums and galleries, arts administration, the art trade or teaching. As art history is studied in social, geographical, cultural and psychological contexts, you will develop an understanding of how different societies evolve and how art impacts our lives.

Popular career areas for art history students include:

  • business and finance
  • catering and hospitality 
  • cultural institutions
  • curatorship 
  • law
  • marketing 
  • media 
  • public relations.

In recent years, art history graduates at St Andrews have secured employment in a wide range of positions at various companies, including:

  • BBC
  • the British Library
  • Christie’s
  • Country Life magazine
  • Legal and General
  • National Museums Scotland
  • Phaidon Press
  • Royal Archives
  • Sotheby’s
  • Tiffany and Co.
  • Vertigo Films
  • The Week magazine

In your degree, you will also gain a number of transferable skills which are highly valued by employers across all sectors. These include the ability to:

  • understand aspects of culture and history in different time periods and geographical locations.
  • produce logical and structured narratives and arguments supported by evidence.
  • effectively communicate ideas by deploying visual material in conjunction with written or oral presentation.
  • work constructively and productively in groups.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Study abroad

Art history students may participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the study abroad site.

Student life

From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions - notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.

Students of art history may be interested in joining the following student societies:

  • ArtsSoc holds weekly life drawing classes, goes on trips to exhibitions, and organises talks with artists.
  • Art History Society promotes the enjoyment of art through criticism and study.

The School of Art History is located in a handsome terrace of townhouses in the centre of St Andrews next door to the University Library. Students will usually attend lectures, seminars and tutorials at this location.

The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings, parks and beaches, providing a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. Find out more about the town of St Andrews.

Find out more about student life at the University of St Andrews.


School of Art History
University of St Andrews
79 North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2399

School of Art History


Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online (PDF, 84 KB).

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