Art History


Art is a profound and persistent human impulse. Art History explores the history of making, viewing and experiencing works of art and architecture. It asks key questions such as what is art for, what does it mean, and how does it function in broader culture? These questions will be part of a dynamic encounter with complex and compelling works of art. You will gain the historical knowledge and analytical skills to make sense of such works across time and space, to relate them to each other and to the specific historical and cultural contexts for which they were created.

You will be trained in the skills of visual and spatial analysis that are fundamental to our discipline - the ability to critically interpret the visual appearance of a given object. As well as the canonical forms of painting, sculpture and architecture, you will encounter a wide spectrum of media and art practice, from body art to video installation, from fresco to pop, from processional ritual to performance art, from early prints to land art. Studying the history of art fosters insight and skills in understanding and interpreting visual communication, expression and innovation that are highly relevant in today’s image-saturated world.

Major outline

A major in Art History requires 36 senior credit points from the table of units of study for Art History, including at least 12 credit points of core units at 3000 level, and a maximum of 6 credit points from elective units of study.

Junior units of study (1000 level):
You complete 12 junior credit points in Art History before enrolling in senior units. ARHT1001 Art and Experience introduces the key issues and foundational skills of our discipline, focusing on the history of Western art from classical antiquity to the early modern period. ARHT1002 Modern Times: Art and Film explores modern and contemporary art, including the relationships between ‘still art’ and the moving image.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level):
Senior-intermediate (2000 level) units of study introduce more complex concepts, and more specific fields within art history and address the diversity and complexity of art and its contexts within a variety of geographies and temporalities. They also make more complex analytical demands of students.

Senior-advanced (3000 level) units deepen your engagement with the complex philosophical and methodological issues facing any scholar or student of Art History, and demand both greater depth of analysis and more focused and longer written tasks.

3000 level units of study will be available from 2015.

Art Workshops/Studio Electives:
Students enrolled in Art History units may also enrol in ONE art workshop/studio unit in their junior year and ONE workshop/studio unit in their senior years. These units are offered on campus at the Tin Sheds, through the Faculty of Architecture (unit of study code beginning with AWSS).

Note that these units do not count towards a major in Art History, but are made specially available to currently enrolled students who are interested.

Graduate opportunities

Sydney Arts and Social Sciences graduates work in government departments at all levels, and major private sector consultancies and corporations, locally and overseas. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences offers a range of subject areas that prepare graduates for careers in administration, education, business research, marketing, media, management consultancy, public relations, gallery and museum curatorship, hospitality and tourism, community and welfare. Our graduates are proficient in research and inquiry, and demonstrate personal and intellectual autonomy, and ethical, social and professional understanding, qualities sought after by leading employers all over the world.

Further study for major

Eligible candidates may proceed to an Honours year in the Bachelor of Arts, or apply for admission to a rich postgraduate program in the humanities and social sciences, comprising advanced learning and professional courses. Master degrees include capstone projects ranging from internships with government and non-government organisations in Australia and overseas, the gallery and museum sector, and leading media organisations, to opportunities for independent research projects which prepare students for higher degrees by research.

Related subject areas

Film Studies, French Studies, Italian Studies

Our courses that offer this major

Not available in 2014