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 community-based social practice to internet art, 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, artists, 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.

Our foundation units, ARHT1001 Style + Substance: Introducing Art History and ARHT1002 Shock of the Now: Global Art since 1900, introduce the key issues and foundational skills of our discipline. Our approach is thematic and committed to a fully world-wide, connected and decolonial history of art that is also sensitive to Indigenous Australian art.

Second year Art History units introduce more complex concepts, and more specific fields within art history. They address the geographical and temporal diversity and complexity of art and its contexts. They also make more complex analytical demands of students. In your third year, our 3000-level units deepen your engagement with the philosophical and methodological issues facing art historians and curators, 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.

Requirements for completion

The Art History major and minor requirements are listed in the Art History unit of study table.

Honours

An honours year in Art History allows students to specialise further in their area of interest. The honours year comprises two 4000-level seminar units of study and a thesis of 18,000-20,000 words in length.

Honours admission requirements
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 or later:
- Admission into 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 and completion of a second major.
- Prior to commencing honours, you will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Arts or other bachelor degree, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units.

Requirements and units of study for honours can be found on the Art History honours units of study page.

Advanced coursework

The Bachelor of Advanced Studies the School of Literature, Art and Media offers students a program tailored to their disciplinary interests. Through units of study and individually designed projects, each student, guided by a disciplinary expert, will engage in advanced seminars that complement their individual research in project units. This may be within the study of arts-based practices such as visual art, film, performance and writing, as well as literature, linguistics, or live and digitised media.

Each student will be encouraged to develop and apply advanced disciplinary knowledge and methodologies to researching the past, present and future at local, regional and global levels in creative ways. In the Bachelor of Advanced Studies, students will have the opportunity to apply disciplinary knowledges and methodologies to the legacies of the past, the complexities of the present and possible futures in the areas of communication, literature and art.

Requirements and units of study for advanced coursework can be found on the Art History advanced coursework units of study page.

Contact and further information

Contact details can be found on these websites:
Department of Art History
School of Literature, Art and Media

Example pathways
Art History major pathway
Art History Major
Year 1       Sem 1        

Core: ARHT1001 Style + Substance: Introducing Art  History

Sem 2         Core: ARHT1002 Shock of the Now: Global Art since 1900
Year 2 Sem 1 Selective: 2000 level unit from  the Art History major table
Sem 2 Selective: 2000 level unit from  the Art History major table
Year 3 Sem 1 Selective: 3000 level unit from the Art History major table

Selective: 3000 level unit from Art History major  table

Sem 2 Selective: 3000 level unit from the Art History major  table Interdisciplinary Project unit: ARHT3999  Interdisciplinary Impact
Art History minor pathway
Art History minor
1st year Sem 1 Core: ARHT1001 Style + Substance: Introducing Art History 
  Sem 2 Core: ARHT1002 Shock of the now: Global Art since 1900 
2nd year Sem 1 and/or Sem 2 Selective: 2000 level unit from
the Art History major table
Selective: 2000 level unit from
the Art History major table
3rd year Sem 1 and/or Sem 2 Selective: 3000 level unit from
the Art History major table
Selective: 3000 level unit from
the Art History major table