History of Art


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 twenty-first 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. Why not come and join us?

The History of Art degree introduces you to the history of western art and architecture, mainly from the Middle Ages to the mid-twentieth century. Cambridge degrees are divided into two parts, of one or two years each. In Part I (year 1) you will gain an overview of over 2000 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 (note particularly the Fitzwilliam Museum). In Part II (years 2-3) 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, nineteenth- and twentieth-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 2) 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 3, 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.



Homerton has established an outstanding record in History of Art in the last five years, with Homerton students achieving the highest marks of the year in both 2014 and 2016. We take up to two students per year. The Director of Studies, Dr Amy Tobin is a Lecturer in the History of Art and Curator of Exhibits, Events and Research at Kettle's Yard.


Homerton houses an important work by the Pre-Raphaelite painter, Jane Benham Hey, A Florentine Procession of 1867.


You apply to History of Art in the same way you do to other subjects (through UCAS). The typical offer in A Levels is A*AA, with the A* to be in an essay-based subject (and not, for example, in Art and Design). We can advise you in case of uncertainty as to what constitutes an essay-based subject. For IB students the typical offer would  be 40-42 pts overall with 7,7,6 in Higher Level subjects.

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. Homerton may ask that you submit one or two pieces of completed and marked school work (essays) that we may use in the interviews- 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).

Applicants for History of Art will take a written assessment at the time of interview. Further information about the format and content for this assessment is available in the online Prospectus.

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.