Sponsored editorial

Have you considered History of Art?

 

History of Art is considered something of a niche degree choice in Britain. While no-one would deny that art is a fascinating subject with a longer and more diverse history than, say, English literature, History of Art exists on the margins at most universities, the preserve of a few dedicated students.

But although it has a small following, it is anything but insignificant in scope or academic rigour. It’s about art, of course, but there’s much more to it than staring at paintings and stroking one’s chin.

“History of art is more than simply the study of creativity and aesthetics,” according to James Bevan, an alumnus of the Courtauld Institute in London, which is a specialist university that focuses entirely on the subject. “It incorporates all aspects of history, as well as philosophy, anthropology, politics and religion. Art is an insight into the zeitgeist, as well as some of history's most fascinating protagonists.”

Jerome Hasler, another recent graduate, agrees: “History of art gave me the opportunity to explore the stories within works of art, addressing social, political or personal reasons behind their particular appearance or fame.”

So it’s clearly a very interesting subject to study, covering a huge slice of the human experience, but what can you do with it? Gareth Evans, a spokesman for the Courtauld, believes that History of Art is crucial for the development of public culture. "The Courtauld produces the museum directors of the future," he says.

Anyone who wants to be seriously involved in museum and gallery curation needs to get their academic grounding sorted out with a degree. You don't get to be director of the Tate without a deep knowledge of the art world as a whole - one you can't just get from avidly attending exhibitions. “Wherever you go in the art world, even internationally, you will find someone from the Courtauld,” adds Evans

Not everyone who attains a degree in history of art is forced into the art world, however. Hasler, for instance, now works for a crisis management consultancy. “It’s not a directly vocational position,” he admits, but history of art has still been very beneficial. “It taught me to be creative, to research thoroughly and to appreciate that many factors can contribute to a final product, things I use and value every day in my job.”

Bevan concurs: “Had I wanted to work in an auction house, curate or write for an art magazine, then I would have been very well placed, especially if I'd continued on with an MA, and there were some tempting options at the Courtauld, such as art restoration. History of art led logically for me into more writing, specifically journalism, and achieving a good degree from a prestigious university did my job prospects no harm at all.”          

There is a slight perception, perhaps, that history of art is an elitist subject. Professor Joanna Woodall, who teaches at the Courtauld, is at pains to disagree.

“People often think of art history as elitist, but it's a subject in which everyone has something to contribute. People notice different things and ask different questions,” she says. “What we are trying to look for is someone who might not have the traditional qualifications but has the passion for the subject.

“We try to look for someone who shows a demonstrable interest in the subject - but that doesn't mean they have to know reams about art history. Those coming to history of art from other disciplines bring something different and enliven the discipline for everyone.”

And what’s it actually like to study history of art as a subject? Kate Roberts, who graduated from the Courtauld this year, enjoyed every minute.

“If you've never studied the subject before, you start with a leveller course,” she says. This introductory course gives new students an overall perspective on their degree. As you progress, you get a more in-depth look, and the chance to learn about things you are personally interested in.

“As you progress, you cover all the different aspects of theory, and every term you get to learn about a different period. In the first couple of years you get to build up this knowledge and then in the third you get to tackle your particular interests.”

Hasler is convinced it was worth it, making firm friends with an inspiring bunch of people, while studying for a fascinating degree. “Before the course I didn’t know anyone who lived in another country, for instance. Now I have even better reasons to travel to New York, Vienna or Paris!”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: 1st Line IT Support - Surrey - £24,000

£20000 - £24000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Support Helpd...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Audit Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Audit Graduate Opportunities ar...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

SThree: TRAINEE RECRUITMENT CONSULTANT - IT - LONDON

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £50k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 bus...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015