A Level: History of Art

Course title: Advanced GCE in History of Art

Exam board: Edexcel

Subject specific entry criteria: Grade 6 in English Literature and/ or History.

Course overview

Students will develop a thorough and inspiring understanding of past cultures in relation to their own and explore and understand the range of ways and purposes for which art and architecture has been produced. All students will develop the skills of visual literacy, analysis and reasoned debate that are so vital in the global, visual world in which we live today.

Component one: Visual Analysis

Students are required to analyse or interpret works of art and to create a critical argument in response to a question. Three compulsory questions will be asked, based on three images. All examples will be taken from within the ‘European tradition’ of art and be dated between 500 BC and the present day. The three questions will explore the three types of art – painting, sculpture and architecture – with one example of each.

Component two: Themes

Within this section there are three narrative ‘umbrella’ topics, from which two will be selected:

  • Nature in Art and Architecture
  • War in Art and Architecture
  • Identities in Art and Architecture

Within this element students will make meaningful exploration and analysis of the developments in art over time and place and explore ideas of community and change.

Component three: Periods

The Period study offers an in-depth study of two specific eras in Art History. Five Periods are studied in detail:

  • The Renaissance in Italy
  • Baroque
  • Avant-Garde
  • Modernism
  • Contemporary
Assessment overview

Written exam one: Visual Analysis and Themes

  • 3 hours
  • 50 % of A Level
  • 110 marks

Written exam two: Periods

  • 3 hours
  • 50% of A Level
  • 110 marks
Future progression

History of Art can be studied at university in its own right, as well as in combination with other subjects such as English, Cultural Studies and Fine Art. There are also a range of related degrees such as Classical Civilisation, History and Curation.

Potential careers

Studying History of Art can lead to careers in fields such as:

  • Curation
  • Archiving
  • Conservation
  • Education
  • Media
  • Journalism
  • Marketing
  • Publishing
  • Heritage management
  • Museum/gallery management

Studying History of Art will develop analytical and practical skills that may prepare you for a career in the cultural, creative and academic sectors. Additional transferable skills include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Presentation skills
  • Research
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Attention to detail
How to succeed in History of Art

You will need a genuine interest in art, culture and history. You do not need to be practically artistic. You will need to have a passion for debate and argument and to be open minded. You will learn to view society around you differently and realise that art is not just objects; but a way of understanding the world and the cultures in which they were created.