Art History


A fascinating subject that explores works of art that have been produced through different eras and cultures and, through these, what artists have tried to tell us about their worlds and lives. You will be encouraged to develop your writing skills and explore creative ways in which to present the outcomes of your research. It is an open and welcoming course for those who have an interest in art. After an induction into the main ideas, issues and methods of art history, you can explore your own interests and focus on issues that arise as you learn more about the subject.

Art History is a subject that can be helpful to any student who wants to apply to an art or humanities related degree course, but it combines well with any A Level. You are also able to combine it with any other Art and Design subject.

Our department provides a calm and friendly place to work. We have a dedicated classroom with its own library and various materials and equipment including computers and cameras. Students also have access to the library in the Art area and the range of resources available across the department.

Developing your understanding by looking at the work of artists and designers is an important part of any art historian’s experience. In both years of the Art History course there are several visits to local galleries as well as trips to London and other regional cities and in the second year one optional residential trip to a foreign city such as New York, Paris or Barcelona will be offered. We also invite guest artists and experts to run one day workshops throughout the year.

We have very good links with Firstsite, a local arts organisation with a major contemporary art gallery in Colchester town centre and with the School of Philosophy and Art History at the University of Essex. We also have many visiting speakers from other universities to give you information about applications and careers.

Many Art History students take the opportunity to pursue a related Extended Project Qualification in their second year.


The first year of the course consists of a variety of activities that will help you with your Personal Investigation in the second year. You will be taught how to research and analyse works of art. You will be encouraged to work independently throughout, investigating relevant topics that personally interest you.


Progression to the second year of this A Level course will be dependent on having made satisfactory progress in the first year of the course, including achieving at least an E grade in a formal late spring assessment, as well as the maintenance of a good level of attendance and commitment throughout the year.

The Year 2 A Level course consists of two components: coursework (Personal Investigation) and exam project. There is a basic exam board requirement for there to be some written content in the coursework component. In the second year you will be further developing your researching and analytical skills and exploring your ideas to a high standard.


In the second year, coursework is due in at the end of January in the spring term. This will include a final outcome and evidence of background research. The topic for the exam project is based on a theme chosen from a paper set by the exam board. It will culminate in the production of an outcome produced under 15 hours of supervised time at the start of the summer term. Both components will be internally marked and externally moderated.


Standard College entry requirements and a minimum of:

Grade required Subject required

Grade 4

GCSE English Language

Grade 5 In at least one predominantly written based GCSE subject (from English Literature, History, Religious Studies or Sociology) 

NOTE: You do not need a GCSE Art and Design qualification in order to do this course. However, you should have some creative skills and you will be expected to consider the visual presentation of your work. It is not college policy to enrol on three Art & Design A levels except in very exceptional cases.


Art History will provide you with a strong set of skills such as researching, presenting written and visual work, analysis of images and texts and attention to detail. These can be applied to a range of careers in the art world and beyond. Art History is considered as an academic A Level; the equivalent of other humanities subjects such as History, English Literature, Philosophy etc. Therefore, alongside art courses, it can support university entry into a wide range of degree options.

Most universities offer courses in Art History and a significant number of our students go on to study this subject. Others have gone onto degrees in Fine Art, History, Philosophy, English Literature and Sociology amongst many others.


The basic requirement is for students to buy an Art History pack, consisting of an A4 coursework book, a white-ink pen, a glue stick (£1.30) and an A5 journal and to have some pencils and paints available for homework. A library card for local libraries is very useful for independent study and research.