Art History

About the major

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 land art to bark paintings. 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. Many of our graduates go on to careers in the visual arts industry, as curators, critics, art advisers, collection managers, registrars or educators. They work in art museums, commercial galleries, auction houses, state and local government or community arts programs, as well as in art journalism and criticism.

Requirements for completion

A major in Art History requires 48 credit points from the Unit of Study table including:
(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level selective units
(iii) 18 credit points of 3000-level selective units
(iv) 6 credit points of 3000-level Interdisciplinary Project unit

A minor in Art History requires 36 credit points from this table including:
(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units;
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level selective units
(iii) 12 credit points of 3000-level selective units

First year

In your first year, you complete 12 credit points of 1000 level units in Art History. ARHT1001 Style + Substance: Introducing Art History 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 Shock of the Now: Global Art since 1990 explores modern and contemporary art and visual culture with a global outlook that is fundamental to our commitment to a fully world-wide, connected history of art that is also sensitive to Indigenous Australian art.

Second year

In your second year, you complete 12 credit points from a selection of 2000 level units in the Art History major table. Art History units at 2000 level 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.

Third year

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. You will have the chance to participate in a Fieldwork unit which will take you to a key city or cultural site outside Australia for an intensive 2 week course, in which you will encounter art, architecture and monuments in situ. You will also have the opportunity to explore how your expertise in visual literacy and other key skills may combine with peers from other disciplines in an interdisciplinary project.

Honours

If you commenced your degree prior to 2018: Admission to Honours requires a major in Art History with an average of 70 percent or above.

If you commenced your degree in 2018: Admission to Honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies and requires the completion of a major in Art History with an average of 70 percent or above. You will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Advanced Studies, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and a second major, prior to commencing Honours.

An honours year in Art History allows students to specialise further in their area of interest. The honours year comprises two semester-long units of study and a thesis of 18,000-20,000 words in length.

Advanced coursework

The requirements for advanced coursework in Art History are described in the degree resolutions for the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Advanced Studies.

24-36 credit points of advanced study will be included in the table for 2019.

Contact/further information

Department website: http://sydney.edu.au/arts/art_history/
School of Literature, Art and Media website: http://sydney.edu.au/arts/slam/

Undergraduate Coordinator: Dr Louise Marshall
Phone: +61 2 9351 3073
Email:

Honours Coordinator: Dr Richard Smith
Phone: +61 2 9351 4208
Email:

Example Pathways
Art History Major
Year 1 Sem 1

ARHT1001
Style + Substance:
Introducing Art
History

1000 level unit 1000 level unit 1000 level unit in another major/minor from Table A or S
Sem 2 ARHT1002
Shock of the Now:
Global Art since 1990
1000 level unit 1000 level unit 1000 level unit in another major/minor from Table A or S
Year 2 Sem 1 2000 level unit from
the Art History major
table
2000 level unit 2000 level unit/OLE 2000 level unit in another major/minor from Table A or S
Sem 2 2000 level unit from
the Art History major
table
2000 level unit 2000 level unit/OLE 2000 level unit in another major/minor from Table A or S
Year 3 Sem 1 3000 level unit from
the Art History major
table

3000 level unit from
Art History major
table

3000 level unit in
another major from
Table A or S
2000/3000 level unit in another major/minor from Table A or S
Sem 2 3000 level unit from
the Art History major
table
FASS3999 Interdisciplinary
project unit
3000 level unit
in another major
from table A or S
2000/3000 level unit in another major/minor from Table A or S
Learning outcomes
  1. Exercise sophisticated skills of visual and spatial observation and analysis of works of art, architecture and visual culture.
  2. Demonstrate understanding of the depth and complexity of art and the relationships between art and specific historical, cultural and social contexts in a diverse range of global examples.
  3. Exhibit knowledge of the diversity and multiplicity of materials and techniques that comprise art as it is practiced worldwide and to recognize and distinguish between materials and techniques.
  4. Engage with the physical presence and contexts in museums, sites and other settings of artworks and spaces encountered first hand and in situ.
  5. Use a variety of tools and methods to research artworks and sites, and to critically evaluate sources of information about artworks.
  6. Demonstrate specific and in-depth knowledge of particular periods, forms, genres and areas within the larger field of art history.
  7. Participate actively in communicating and presenting in oral, written and digital forms.
  8. Explore artworks in their relation to other cultural forms and modes of expression.