You’ll explore practices and interpretations of art and culture across an exceptionally wide array of topics, combining a critical approach to the historical study of art with the focused study of more diverse forms of cultural practice and theory. You’ll learn about the histories of various kinds of practice (such as film, painting, literature, photography, the media and music) as well as understanding their different contexts of production and consumption.
You’ll study key moments in the chronology of art history, from a broad and global perspective, and examine their significance. We’ll guide you to become a well-rounded art historian who is confidently able to understand, consider and challenge historical perspectives through a range of critical frameworks. In a world increasingly defined through images and material culture, you’ll approach art history as a vital and dynamic framework for understanding our shared histories and some of the most pressing questions we are faced with now.
You’ll investigate the interconnections between art and the larger social dynamics that shape our culture, such as ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, being human and our relationship to nature and the environment. You’ll become equipped to act in the world as creative thinkers and global citizens, innovators in your respective professional fields. We’ll prepare you to be a socially conscious graduate with an array of relevant and transferrable skills.
The course sits alongside our similar BA History of Art; students opting for this route combined with Cultural Studies will dedicate more of their studies to critical theory and the study of other cultural forms, and slightly less time to the History of Art.
We are internationally recognised for pioneering work in the social history of art, feminist art history, and the critical study of race and global cultural encounters, with emerging interests in our historical and contemporary relations to nature through issues of sustainability, climate and the environment. We offer the second oldest art history course in the United Kingdom.
The course has a distinct position as a degree in a Russell Group university where art historians study alongside fine artists, within a purpose-built space that includes studios and a gallery alongside seminar rooms and a shared student common room. The course covers an exceptional variety of specialist areas of study with a distinct interdisciplinary outlook across art history and cultural studies. All our teaching is driven by cutting-edge research, with a dynamic approach based on emerging issues and questions that matter to us as a community of academics, practitioners, and students.
In addition to the wide range of museums and galleries in the city and beyond, the University campus features:
Project Space – a multi-purpose space in the School designed for the development of curatorial practice and visiting exhibitions.
The University Library offers online books, journals and databases, has a wealth of archive material in its Special Collections, including manuscript, archive and early printed material, and provides a range of spaces for individual study or group work. You’ll also benefit from access to Box of Broadcasts, an archive of over 2 million TV and radio broadcasts.
You’ll build a strong knowledge in the history of art and the broader study of culture, while developing key abilities in research, independent thinking and the expression of your ideas. We’re committed to approaching art and its histories from a global lens and with an emphasis on important social and political questions. The compulsory modules provide a foundation of art history knowledge and transferable skills and the optional modules allow you significant scope to tailor your course with a diverse range of choices, calling on the expertise of the School and our staff. The dissertation forms a major component of your final year, in which we’ll provide you with one-to-one support for your independently devised project.
You'll gain the fundamental skills and theoretical and historical knowledge for analysing art and culture, and for critical awareness of the spaces, institutions and social practices in which art, in its widest forms, takes shape. You’ll take on different approaches to learning while looking at key themes and interpretive methods and building skills for research. You'll consider art and cultural practices in their most diverse forms, in global and more local contexts, and in the complex ways art is embedded in wider social and political questions.
A choice of optional modules will allow you to give more focus to particular areas covered in this year.
You'll build on this knowledge and skill-base, with further scope to pursue your individual interests in depth. Compulsory modules enable you to explore the philosophical foundations and legacies of art history and its formation as a distinct set of practices and intellectual frameworks; to develop higher-level understanding of different methods and approaches in the development of your own art-historical practice; and to explore in depth key concepts and frameworks of cultural analysis.
You'll choose from a significant range of optional modules covering a very wide array of topics in art history, as well as related areas of critical theory.
By your final year, you'll be able to apply your research and critical skills to an independently formulated dissertation on a topic of your choice.
This is alongside further choice of optional modules covering a similarly diverse range of topics and approaches at an intellectually advanced level.
The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.
Art History as Practice (20 credits) - Taking art-historical research as a dynamic and inclusive set of practices grounded in questions that matter now, this module draws on the varied expertise of teaching staff to introduce you to the combined and converging challenges of a deep understanding of past cultures, engagement with current issues in the field and methods for developing independent research. This module presents a wide array of art-historical topics, with a global perspective and covering a broad chronology, placing emphasis on the question of what it means to be an art historian now.
Introduction to Cultural Analysis 1 (20 credits) - This module introduces ways of reading different aspects of culture. It should enable you to discuss the full range of cultural forms including film, television, popular literature and music as well as more canonical modes of culture such as opera, philosophy, art and architecture. This module will equip you with the skills to appreciate, criticise, and understand culture through intellectual approaches. This module covers questions of cultural studies, representation, authorship, meaning, close reading, ideology, race, sexual difference and psychoanalysis.
Introduction of Cultural Analysis 2 (20 credits) - This module introduces you to different methodological and critical approaches to the analysis and study of cultural production and consumption, in a range of different social, historical and political contexts. Week by week you are taken through a range of relevant questions, topics and themes relating to the critical and contextual analysis of culture and are shown the ways in which culture itself informs how it is theoretically interpreted.
From Art History’s Myths to Critical Art History (20 credits) - This module sets out a broad range of art-historical topics and questions, with a focus on modernity and the contemporary, together with a direct, critical engagement with some of the prevailing myths of the discipline. You’ll be equipped with an understanding of key moments in the history of art in texts, practices and institutions and with an ability to reflect on how the history of art both illuminates and shadows our work as art historians today. While gaining in-depth knowledge of art movements and practices up to the present, we will explore how the interpretation of art has been coloured by notions of nationhood and claims to universality, by the very notion of ‘modernity’ and by myths of origins and authenticity.
Critical Approaches to Display, Institutions, and Engagement (20 Credits) - This module introduces a range of approaches to the critical study of practices of curating and the institutions, spaces and cultural formations through which art, in its widest senses, is encountered. From the origins of museums to the most recent forms of socially engaged participatory practice, from heritage sites to the international biennale, you’ll be equipped to develop an informed engagement with the wider structures and relationships – political, social, and cultural – which underpin our lived experience of the artworld and shape our interpretations as scholars.
Elements of Visual Culture 1 (20 credits) - Taking the act of ‘seeing’ as its starting point, this module asks you to analyse assumptions about art that may appear natural, obvious or unquestionable. By exploring the many ways in which ‘seeing’ is thought and theorised, you’ll question the relation between society, ideas, art and writing. You’ll consider how visual culture conveys and constructs social values and how ‘seeing’ is wrapped-up with verbal representations and conceptualisations, gaining skills of critical thinking, visual analysis and independent learning in the process.
Discovery module (20 credits) - Throughout your degree you will benefit from a range of opportunities to expand your intellectual horizons outside or within your subject area. This course gives you the opportunity to choose from a range of discovery modules. They’re a great way to tailor your study around your interests or career aspirations and help you stand out from the crowd when you graduate. Find out more about discovery modules on our Broadening webpages.
Methods in Practice: Art-Historical Research (20 credits) - This module builds core skills through a focused critical engagement with methods in art-historical research. Combining detailed reflection on the concerns and approaches of key art historians with work-in-progress explorations of the development of live research, the module equips students to build their own projects with a strong sense of the resources and choices open to us, and of the discipline of Art History as an inclusive, dynamic space to be developed though the questions that matter now.
Origins, Structures, and Critique: Framing the Discipline of Art History (20 credits) - This module interrogates the history and legacies of the discipline of Art History, with a view to a critical reflection on what art history can do in the world we face today. We explore the distinct formation of Art History as a discipline rooted both in historical or antiquarian studies and in philosophical aesthetics, while also reflecting on its complex entanglements with discourses of nationalism and racial hierarchies and other more or less hidden structures of power. The module equips students to deal critically and reflexively with complex and often difficult legacies, and to take up now the transformative potential of the discipline.
Keywords (20 credits) - Representation, Form, Context, Interpretation and Power are words one hears often in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies (FAHACS). They are heard frequently because they are actually concepts used by teachers and scholars in these fields to analyse works of art and cultural practices whether realised as paintings, texts, buildings, actions or otherwise. What do these concepts mean; how are they used; when and why were they produced; what debates have they stirred? These are the questions that students in this module will engage. Through reading, writing and speaking students will become active and self-aware participants in the cultural history of the present.
The New York School (20 credits) - You’ll examine aspects of the shift of the metropolitan centre of the avant garde from Paris to New York at the end of the 1930s, the art and art criticism associated with it, and the ways that art and art criticism was developed, contradicted and transcended in the post war period 1947-1958/9. Artists considered will include Pollock, Rauschenberg, Johns, Louis, Noland, Kaprow, Stella, Rothko, Barnett- Newman, Reinhardt, Frankenthaler, amongst others. The idea of the Cold War, contemporary politics, formalist theory and contemporary debates on the nature of 'American Art' will provide the context for your understanding of the practices and reception of such artists.
Cinema and Culture (20 credits) - You’ll comparatively examine specific films and their remake(s). This approach enables us to note cultural, social and technological shifts over time, to discuss the possibilities and challenges of transnational remakes and to consider wider questions of inter-, para- and metatextuality in 20th century cinema and our postcinematic age. You’ll engage with relevant discourses and make detailed analyses of screenings, readings and terminologies. The module also dedicates time to develop your writing and presentation skills. Techniques and strategies of how to construct a focused argument, find appropriate literature and read a film closely will be explicitly addressed and practiced in this module.
Seeing in Asia (20 credits) - Are there fundamental differences between the ways you see familiar objects and those from Asia? Are there ways in which the power and meanings of 'seeing' change in an Asian context, so that even though we are 'seeing' the same object, we understand the object differently? How do cultural and historical values and standards shape the act of seeing and how we interpret images? By engaging with wide-ranging historical and cultural examples drawn from a range of specialities from art to science, this module addresses the age-old problem of ‘nature’ versus ‘nurture’ through the perspective of Asian Culture.
State of the Art: Contemporary Perspectives in Art, Science and Technology (20 credits) - This module explores how art and curatorial practice can offer an investigative lens on scientific and technological innovation. You’ll engage with and challenge the logic of art as a medium for the communication of science, considering the collaborative potential within these fields and the reciprocal dialogue between artistic and scientific methods and practices. Through discussion of contemporary issues in art, science and technology, you’ll be encouraged to critically reflect on the socio-political context of current debates and the ethical implications of their treatment in curated settings.
The Grand Tour: Travels, Excavations, Collections (20 credits) - The Grand Tour’s origins lie in the early 17th century, when a small number of British aristocrats left their native islands to explore the cultural capitals of Europe. By the 18th century, it had developed into a rite of passage for privileged young men sent abroad to expand their knowledge of the visual arts, architecture, music and foreign political systems. Its culmination was Rome, where a thriving cultural industry arose to meet the demand for paintings, objet d’art and antiquities. This module will follow a typical Grand Tour itinerary; assess the importance of certain travellers, guides, artists and dealers; explore key publications (some of which are held in Special Collections of the Brotherton Library); and analyse the classification systems and modes of display of major Grand Tour collections in Great Britain and Ireland.
The Art Market: Moments, Methodologies, Meanings (20 credits) - This module introduces some of the main themes in the histories of the art market. It is a chronologically ordered and thematic investigation that focuses on key notions, such as the Primary (production) and Secondary (resale/collecting) art markets, and key segments such as the Fine and Decorative Art ('Antiques') markets. The role of key institutions, such as auction houses and galleries, and key agents, such as art dealers, collectors and artists, are also addressed. You’ll critically reflects on the meanings of some of the dominant tropes associated with those that have traded in art objects, such as the consistent theme of forgery and fakes, as well as the role that the art market plays in the complex nature of the notion of 'value'.
Bodies of Difference: Gender, Power and the Visual Arts (20 credits) - This module explores a range of feminist, postcolonial and queer theories of the embodiment of gender, its performance, performativity and representation in art and visual culture, showing the relations between the two. You’ll address shifts in the representational schema of the woman's body by the study of a range of feminist perspectives that offer a critical framework for thinking about the body, embodiment and difference in all its intersectional complexity. This module also covers a range of theories and concepts that are vital to our understanding of the power and dynamics of gender and the body that are operative in art history and visual culture. It is in this sense that we will move toward the recent critical feminist theories and art practices that have revisited and challenged the conventions and representations that encoded ‘woman’ as the image of desire.
Encountering Contemporary Art in a Global Context (20 credits) - You’ll investigate a conundrum that presents itself in the contemporary art world: on the one hand, it is defined by the spread of international art exhibitions and experimental local initiatives in which globetrotting artists encounter audiences. On the other, it continues to reproduce uneven power relations, maintaining old geographical hierarchies and a one-way flow of artists from the peripheries to ‘the centre’. Also, in its participation within global capitalism, the radical potential of contemporary art often seems to be neutralised by the exhibition form. What then, is the role of the curator in this complex situation? How might we understand contemporary art curating as a critical and creative practice? What form can curatorial activity take beyond the exhibition? How can curating engage with and challenge the social inequalities and power dynamics of globalisation? You’ll use case studies and theory to consider these questions and reflect on your own ideas.
Dissertation (60 Credits) - The final outcome of this module is a BA dissertation. The dissertation should take the form of a coherently argued, thoroughly researched and carefully edited written work which is based on and clearly reflects the knowledge and skills acquired throughout the programme and the dissertation process.
From Trauma to Cultural Memory: The Unfinished Business of Representation and the Holocaust (20 credits) - This module addresses debates in literary, historiographical and psychological theory about the ways in which witnesses provide testimony, and the ways in which the legacy of a historical trauma of the magnitude of the Holocaust is represented by historians, sociologists, writers, artists and museums. Rather than an historical study of the events of 1933-45, you’ll consider the continuing significance of this disaster in the larger context of European history. You’ll pay close attention to the voices and images of those who continue to live with a trauma that only psychological, analytical, creative work can turn into memory, which the cultures of Europe must take on as the history that continues to shape our present responses to all forms of racism, genocide and violence against the stranger.
Anthropology, Art and Representation (20 credits) - The anthropology of art has long been a fertile and vital area of contention around cultural value and cross-cultural relationships. It has not been merely an academic area of enquiry, but one caught up in the debates and controversies in the public sphere, about museums exhibitions. In addition, the anthropology of art provides a comparative perspective on the way in which art is represented in the west. The issue of cultural representation is therefore of crucial importance to an understanding of the way in which Euro-American interacts with the rest of the world. You’ll examine specific objects and "texts", and their interpretation, in relation to larger questions concerning gender, embodiment, technology and representation.
Deconstruction Reading Politics (20 credits) - You’ll be introduced to deconstruction through a close analysis of texts by Derrida. A double interpretative focus is maintained: on the meticulous analysis of these texts and on deconstruction as a way of reading (culture, politics). The module opens with a general discussion of the origins of deconstruction, both in Derrida's biography and in the history of Western thought. Several key deconstructive insights or moves are described, with examples taken from some (relatively) simple texts examples. You’ll examine Derrida's work, moving between his more explicitly political or meta-political work, his more abstract, speculative or poetic work, his extended textual analyses and his interviews.
Critical Approaches to Photography (20 credits) - Photographic images saturate every corner of contemporary society in a developed country to such an extent that it is difficult to spend a day without seeing a photographic image. Yet, the popular concepts in discussions of photography remain overused and unexamined at best ('truth' 'reflection' 'index'). By engaging with historical and cultural treatises about the medium and its property (how photography 'reflects' reality, how photographers 'see' differently, for instance) this module excavates the multiple layers of philosophical issues embedded in concepts such as 'truth,' 'reality' and 'mediation' in thinking and writing about photographic images.
Postcolonial Feminisms (20 credits) - You’ll examine feminist theory and politics, as they have developed in the context of the period of decolonization and its wake. Emphasis will fall on theoretical formulations concerning sexual difference and the social division of gender as these have been produced by women writing to or from former European colonies. Attention will also be given to questions posed by and for feminism within postcolonial metropoles.
Movies, Migrants and Diasporas (20 credits) - This module is dedicated to migration and diaspora in Europe as reflected in the cinema. It introduces you to the work of filmmakers with, for example, German Turkish, Black or Asian British, Maghrebi French, Roma or Jewish backgrounds, productions made by transnational Eastern European practitioners and films about migration and diaspora created by non-migrant/diasporic writers and directors.
Learning and teaching
Teaching is delivered through a range of innovative approaches, emphasising inclusive, active learning and student input. Approaches will include lectures, seminars, screenings, tutorials, field trips, and workshops and other forms of learning generated through dialogue between tutors and students. You’ll also be able to attend talks by visiting artists and speakers, as well as events and exhibitions both on and off campus. Independent study is a crucial component of the degree, allowing you to form and express your own ideas, and to develop a broad range of important transferrable skills. We encourage you throughout to carry out small research projects independently or in groups, and the final-year dissertation enables you to undertake substantial independent research on a topic of particular interest to you.
On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.
Assessment takes varied forms, including different kinds of written assignment, presentations, group work, and innovative practice-led approaches. Assessment is led by principles of relevance, fairness and inclusivity, and the development of vital skills beyond university, such as problem-solving, adaptability, self-reliance and reflexivity.
The University Library offers classes and resources on topics such as exam technique, public speaking, research and structuring essays throughout your degree.
Other course specific tests:
Where an applicant is undertaking an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), the School may make an alternative offer of BBB including A in the EPQ.
NB: An EPQ is optional and not a requirement of application.
Access to HE Diploma
Pass diploma with 60 credits overall, including at least 45 credits at level 3, of which 30 credits must be at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit or higher.
M1, M1, M2
34-35 points overall including 16 at Higher Level with 4 in English.
Irish Leaving Certificate (higher Level)
H2, H2, H2, H3, H3, H3
Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers
BB in Advanced Highers and AABBB in Highers OR B in Advanced Highers and AAABB in Highers OR AABBBB in Highers
The Welsh Baccalaureate is not typically included in the academic conditions of an offer made to you for this course.
UAL Extended Diploma: Distinction (or High Merit where available).
European Baccalaureate: 75%
Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the Schools Undergraduate Admissions Team.
Were committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.
Access to Leeds is an alternative admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.
Find out more about Access to Leeds and alternative admissions.
Typical Access to Leeds offer: BBC at A Level and pass Access to Leeds.
Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year
If you would like to study arts, humanities, and cultures at university, but don't currently meet the typical entry requirements for direct entry to a degree, you might be eligible to apply for the Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year course.
We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. Contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.
International Foundation Year
International students who do not meet the academic requirements for undergraduate study may be able to study the University of Leeds International Foundation Year. This gives you the opportunity to study on campus, be taught by University of Leeds academics and progress onto a wide range of Leeds undergraduate courses. Find out more about International Foundation Year programmes.
English language requirements
IELTS 6.0 overall, with no less than 5.5 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.
Improve your English
If you're an international student and you don't meet the English language requirements for this programme, you may be able to study our undergraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.
UK: £9,250 (per year)
International: £24,500 (per year)
Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2023/24 and 2024/25
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students are set by the UK Government and will remain capped at £9,250 for 2023/24 and 2024/25. The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation only as a consequence of future changes in Government legislation and as permitted by law.
Tuition fees for international undergraduate students starting in 2023/24 and 2024/25
Tuition fees for international students for 2023/24 and 2024/25 are available on individual course pages.
Tuition fees for a study abroad or work placement year
If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.
Read more about paying fees and charges.
There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs.
Scholarships and financial support
If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.
Apply to this course through UCAS. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.
Read our guidance about applying.
International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If you’re unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.
Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.
This course is taught by
School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies Undergraduate Admissions
The History of Art with Cultural Studies provides training in critical thinking about the ways in which practices, objects and ideas shape the world. It embeds high-level intellectual skills, flexibility of approach, independence, collaboration, and problem solving. It is in the nature of this course that students learn to adapt and build a wide and dynamic array of different intellectual and practical skills, vital for a changing world. Focus on the history of art and cultural studies, as part of a study of societies in the widest sense, means our students engage throughout their degree with trans-disciplinary approaches, drawing also on areas of literature, philosophy, the media, religion, history, and wherever else their research takes them. There is also a strong emphasis on the institutional and professional dimensions of art and culture, and on understanding the practical side of how they take shape and affect our lives in the real world. These are vital transferrable skills in high demand, and graduates of History of Art with Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds go on to enjoy a wide range of career choices.
Employment opportunities include the widest array of challenging careers that demand those core, transferrable skills and the rigour of a Russell Group university degree, whether or not directly related to the history of art and cultural studies. Equally, many of our students gain employment within the national and international heritage, art gallery and museum sectors, public relations, advertising, public service administration, commercial art galleries, and broadcasting. Many go on to postgraduate study, including the completion PhDs as a route to teaching in higher education institutions around the world.
The School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies has a strong commitment to enhancing student employability and embedding transferable, career-oriented skills.
Every week the School organises a Visiting Artist Talk Programme with leading artists regionally and internationally discussing their careers and practice.
Other industry sector visitors include art auctioneers, dealers, directors and curators (including Tate Modern, Tetley, Hepworth, Henry Moore Institute, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Tenants Auctioneers, British Antique Dealers Association, Leeds Museums, Leeds City Art Gallery).
We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.
Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.
The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more about Careers support.
Study abroad and work placements
On this course you have the opportunity to apply to spend time abroad, usually as an extra academic year. We have over 300 University partners worldwide and popular destinations for our students include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa and Latin America.
Find out more at the Study Abroad website.
Practical work experience can help you decide on your career and improve your employability. On this course you have the option to apply to take a placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the UK, or overseas.
Find out more about work experience on the Careers website.
The School’s exemplary Year in Industry programme has led to students successfully undertaking work-based placements locally, nationally, and internationally, some of which have led to permanent full-time employment upon graduation. Recent placements include; Archival assistant at Chert Ludde Gallery, Berlin; Social Media Assistant at CeeCee, Berlin; Arts PR Consultancy with Bolton & Quinn, London; Marketing assistant, L’Oreal, UK; Programme Assistant at Oris House of Architecture, Croatia and Palazzo Monti Artist Residency, Italy; Gallery assistant at Wychwood Gallery, UK; Assistant Producer at Limehouse Film Production, Leeds; Gallery Assistant at ArtDog London & Nahmed Gallery, London; Marketing role with Adobe Design Projects.
My year in industry has been absolutely invaluable in allowing me industry experience. I feel so much so secure now, knowing that I will have a year of work experience under my belt, once I leave university.
- Madeleine Birks, BA Cultural and Media Studies
Student profile: Alexandra Oliver
Before coming to Leeds I didn’t know what it was like to be surrounded by people who have such eclectic interests and passions. It has been so insightful, and has really opened my eyes.Find out more about Alexandra Oliver's time at Leeds