History of Art

Study in a city that is home to historic examples of art and architecture, as well as internationally renowned academic staff to guide and inspire you.

Course details

Number of students per year
Typical offer
A*AA at A-level; 40-42 points with 776 at Higher Level for the IB.
Useful subjects
An essay-based subject (e.g. English Literature, History)

At Homerton

Homerton has established an outstanding record in History of Art, with Homerton students achieving the highest marks of the year in both 2014 and 2016. We take up to two students per year. Homerton has a small but tight-knit community of art historians with a friendly atmosphere.

Homerton itself houses various works of art, including an important painting by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Jane Benham Hey, ‘A Florentine Procession’ (1867), which hangs on the east wall of the Great Hall.

The Director of Studies, Dr Krisztina Ilko is Lecturer in History of Art and Bye-Fellow at Homerton, and specialises in social, cultural, and artistic exchange in the global medieval world. Before returning to Cambridge, Dr Ilko served as a Research Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. At Cambridge, beside contributing to various modules in the core curriculum on European and global art between 1000 and 1600, she developed and taught a new Special Subject for second- and third-year undergraduates, entitled ‘Early Renaissance Art from a Global Perspective’. Global art history until very recently has been traditionally focused on the origins of the modern (post-1500) era. Yet, artistic interconnectivity, transcultural exchange, and multi-ethnic diversity are present already earlier and provide fresh perspectives to explore the development of Renaissance art.

At Cambridge

Cambridge is an ideal place to study the History of Art. The city and University are home to some of the most important examples of art and architecture, from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. Not only does Cambridge boast a host of museums, amazing libraries and wonderful collections of art in the University’s Colleges, it also has internationally renowned and dedicated academic staff to guide and inspire you.

The History of Art degree introduces you to the history of western art and architecture, mainly from the Middle Ages to the mid-20th century. Cambridge degrees are divided into two parts, of one or two years each. In Part I (year one) you will gain an overview of over 2,000 years of art and architectural history, exploring the meanings and materials of art, with a special focus on the world-class collections on our own doorstep, in Cambridge’s many museums and colleges, including the renowned collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum. In Part II (years two and three), you will have the opportunity to specialise in areas that interest you. The courses offered change from year to year, but typically include Medieval English and/or French art, Renaissance Italy, Early Modern British art and architecture, 19th- and 20th-century Modern art, and Surrealism.

Alongside these ‘Special Subjects’ (two each year, taken in separate terms), you will take two general courses. The ‘Approaches’ course (year two) will introduce you to History of Art’s own history, as you discover how 2,000 years of philosophers, historians and art historians have approached the study of art. In year three, you will learn about the history of the ‘Display’ of art; how museums and collections developed, and how the physical context of an object in an exhibition, gallery or private collection can alter and distort the impression it makes on the viewer. There are also several opportunities to pursue independent research on a self-chosen topic, including the final year dissertation.

What We Look For

We are looking for students who have the academic ability and potential to succeed on the course, as well as the necessary interest in and motivation for the subject.

In order to explore History of Art in more detail we would recommend the introductory reading for prospective applicants and offer holders listed here.

How To Apply

There are no required subjects to be studied but we would expect to see evidence of critical essay writing as might be found in a number of arts subjects.

Admission Assessment: Applicants for History of Art will be required to take a written assessment, if shortlisted for interview. Further information about the format and content for this assessment is available here

Written Work: Submit one or two pieces of completed and marked school work (essays) - we don't usually expect these to be art history essays, most applicants will not be taking that subject (as it is rarely available in schools).

There will normally be two interviews, one of which will be given by a tutor from Homerton, who may not be a specialist in art history but will have an interest both in your abilities in the subject and your more general academic capacity. The second will be more specifically about your engagement with the history of art, and will usually be given by Homerton's Director of Studies in History of Art and a colleague from the department.


Many of our students go on to further study, to complete Masters’ degrees and/or PhDs in related fields. Students frequently gain employment in areas related to their degree such as museums, galleries, the care and maintenance of collections, conservation and heritage management, design, the fashion industry, film and television, advertising, the built environment, and the art market. Some become practising artists themselves. Others use the skills and insights gained in their studies to pursue successful careers as lawyers, bankers, actors, writers, doctors, accountants, politicians, and in business, as well as in many other walks of life.

Teaching Fellows