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History of Art - Course Outline

Part First

Year First

The part first equips students with an extensive introduction to the history of art and to meaning and making of art objects with special focus upon the collections of the Fitzwilliam Museum. The part first includes topics ranging from the art of Ancient Egypt to modern times. The part first incorporates foremost examples of Renaissance, Medieval and Post-Renaissance art and non-western items.

During the year, students have to take five compulsory papers and complete a short dissertation.

  • Two papers on the making of art - covering issues of technique and style in sculpture and painting and manufacture with the respect to their historical development
  • One paper on the objects of art history: A survey of art and architecture which introduces the history of art between modern era and antiquity
  • Two papers on the meaning of architecture and art: Related with how works of architecture and art are interpreted with regard to cultural traditions
  • The short dissertation is about five thousand words on a work of architecture or art in around Cambridge

Part Second 'A'

Year Second

In the part second, students get thorough understanding and knowledge by laying emphasis upon specific issues. In the part second 'A', students have to take one compulsory paper along with two pairs of papers on special subjects:

  • The two pairs of specials subjects are selected from a wide range of nine. Each pair copes with a specific person, period or subject in the history of art. Presently, these include French Gothic Art, Byzantine Art, British Architecture and Surrealism and Italian Renaissance and Baroque Painting and Sculpture.
  • The compulsory paper is based on approaches to the history of art with special reference to works of criticism. This incorporates the history of discipline and its critical methodologies from antiquity to the present day.

Part Second 'B'

Year Third

In part second 'B', students have to take one compulsory paper, two next pairs of special subject papers and submit a dissertation.

  • There are options for the two pairs of special subjects are as those in part second A, but students need to take two subjects that they have not studied before.
  • The compulsory paper on The Display of Art focuses the relationship between art and its viewers by means of studying the ways wherein art is displayed, collected and experienced in the society.
  • The dissertation is seven to nine thousand words on a topic of students' choice as agreed with their Director of Studies.

Upon completing the course, students get into various fields such as museums, heritage management, publishing, fine art dealing, and agencies for the care and conservation of monuments, art galleries, advertising and the visual media. Some of the graduates also get into teaching at universities, colleges and schools. Some of the Cambridge History of Art students have achieved prominence including:

  • Antony Gormley, winner of the 1994 Turner Prize
  • Sir Nicholas Serota, (Director of the Tate Gallery)
  • Dr Philip Rylands, (Director of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum) in Venice
  • Dr Charles Saumarez-Smith, (Director of the Royal Academy in London)
  • Sir Hugh Roberts, (Director of the Royal Collection and) Surveyor of The Queen's Works of Art


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