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Fine Art & Art History BA(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code Year of entry
3 years full time WV1H 2017

Why choose this course?

This course combines two distinct but related areas, enabling you to realise your creative potential in fine art while developing the critical, historical and creative approaches necessary to understand the cultures of contemporary art in particular. This combined approach provides the skills and subject knowledge needed for careers in the visual arts and the creative industries. 

What you will study

Your fine art teaching takes place primarily in your dedicated studio space, where you are able to discuss the evolution and development of your practice with tutors, visiting artists, technical staff and fellow students. Your progress will be supported by core teaching in the form of tutorials and seminars, critiques and study trips, and through access to outstanding workshops and technical expertise. Alongside this, you will study art history through lectures, seminars and workshops, developing a historical and conceptual understanding of the practices that have shaped the cultures of contemporary art. Both elements focus on personal and professional development, giving you the confidence and independent thinking to identify and pursue your career aims.

You also have the option to study abroad through the Erasmus programme and Study Abroad scheme, as well as participating in a range of studio workshops and projects facilitated by a staff team of practising artists, writers, curators, historians and cultural theorists. The course has significant industry links, including the Stanley Picker Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Art, Tate, Drawing Room, Five Years and Traffic, Antwerp. Students regularly take part in live external projects in addition to core curriculum activities.

Year 1 modules introduce the fundamental skills of research and visual art practice in traditional and new media, technologies and disciplines. You will start to undertake independent studio practice, and gain confidence through technical and studio-based workshops. Through a variety of lectures, seminars, workshops, visits and projects, modules in art history will equip you with historical knowledge, appropriate creative research methods and an understanding of the key concepts through which contemporary art is understood.

In Year 2, you will develop your individual research interests, your creative expression, and improve your interdisciplinary experience and collaborative skills. You will develop your technical competence in the realisation of your works, and will explore a wide range of source material in a critical and analytical context. You will also develop your theoretical understanding through engagement with key contemporary critical debates.

In Year 3, there is an increased focus on independent study. You will create work that articulates increasingly subtle and complex visual arguments and that takes account of current critical, conceptual, theoretical and aesthetic issues. You will produce work for a final portfolio, exhibition and review. You will also look in depth at an art history theme through a focused special study, and complete a dissertation. This guided independent research project enables you to explore a topic in detail and reflect productively on the links between theory and practice.

Module listing

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Year 1

  • This module is designed to promote effective use of the studio to stimulate the establishment of a fine art practice and to introduce a broad subject context alongside that delivered through critical historical studies.

    Through independent, peer and group learning, you are encouraged to identify and develop new practical / thinking skills and interests and to nurture existing ones.

    With consideration to their established methods, you will be asked to consider new and alternative modes of practice in and beyond the studio and to begin to invest in collaborative approaches to making and reviewing your work. You will be invited to be curious and reflective in your approach to materials, processes and ideas as well as to establish strategies for self-management and enrichment.

  • This module supports you to disseminate the work you make to critically reflect on what you have done and to gain awareness of a broad professional context for fine art practice.

    You will be encouraged to acquire strategic skills for planning, showing, recording and communicating work in a variety of formats, including publication and exhibition via analogue, digital and online media. By rendering and displaying practical work for peers, teaching staff and external audiences, you will gain an awareness of the importance of editing and evaluating the work you have made.

  • This module introduces the various contexts in which the contemporary practices of art, photography and independent filmmaking are defined, debated and displayed. Designed to support your first steps as practitioners within the wider field of the visual arts in the 21st century, through lectures, discussions, screenings and exhibition visits you will be introduced to the historical framework of modernity and post-modernity. This will enable you to understand the development and contemporary situation of your own discipline.

    The module is organised as discrete but related teaching blocks that progress from broader questions of cultural practice to the more specific debates that have framed the historical development of the related practices of fine art, independent film and photography. In the first block, emphasis is placed on the notion of practice in the visual arts by addressing the historical, theoretical, social and political factors that have affected our understanding of its function. In the second block, you will pursue programme-specific strands that focus on the key debates, theoretical questions and changing contexts of each discipline. Throughout there is an emphasis on the introduction of key analytical, critical and research skills, and through close engagement with visual sources, historical texts and contemporary critical writing you will begin to develop the tools necessary to discuss, conceptualise and reflect on your own emerging practice.

  • This module focuses on key methods in the processes of research and its interpretation and communication. Through a series of thematically structured, contemporary focused encounters with key artefacts, texts, events and sites from the late 19th century to the present, it aims to develop your knowledge and skills in a range of methods related to the history and theory of the production, consumption and mediation of art and design. The module interrogates core concepts in the disciplines of art and design history and theory and introduces key methods for the identification and interpretation of research material, including: conducting oral history, using archives, and employing material culture and gendered approaches to objects. The module also introduces you to key methods in communicative and interpretative activities such as different curation and critical writing modes. This combination of methods will connect your research-based practice to contemporary audiences interested in art and design past and present, providing key skills for professional careers. Finally, the module will develop your critically informed awareness of your own research-based practice.


Year 2

  • This module is designed to promote effective use of the studio to stimulate the establishment of a fine art practice and to introduce a broad subject context alongside that delivered through critical historical studies.

    Through independent, peer and group learning, you will be encouraged to identify and develop new practical / thinking skills and interests and to nurture existing ones.

    Throughout this module, you will be encouraged to pursue increasingly self-led enquiry in and beyond the studio and to continue to invest in collaborative approaches to making and reviewing their work. You will be supported to be increasingly analytical in your approach to materials, processes and ideas, as well as to hone strategies for self-management and enrichment.

  • Designed to help develop the skills that will equip you for a professional life in work, this module supports you to enlarge upon your knowledge of a broad professional context for fine art practice.

    You will develop upon and enhance relevant strategies for planning, curating, exhibiting, and documenting work in a variety of ways, including publication and exhibition via analogue, digital and online media. By testing and determining increasingly relevant strategies for rendering and displaying practical work to peers, teaching staff and external audiences, you will develop further awareness of the importance of editing, evaluating and adapting the work they have made in plural contexts.

    You will also be assisting Level 6 students with the mounting of a final show which will help you to develop your exhibition and project-planning skills.

  • This module will engage you with the critical issues driving contemporary art practice within the expanded field in which it operates. Emphasising practical, experiential research-led enquiry and reflection as an integral mode of learning common to both art practice and the study of art's histories and theories, you will identify, explore and analyse current trends by investigating the contexts in which those issues emerge-in critical literature, art writing, exhibitions and curatorial agenda. You will be looking outwards to address the contemporary manifestations of the relationships between, for example, art and politics, the operation of global capital, activism and community, changing sites and spaces of the production of meaning, the politics of identity, and contemporary turns in philosophy and critical theory. The module also encourages you to reflect and begin to situate yourself. Making links and interpreting the themes emerging in your own practice. The module provides you with the building blocks with which to construct an informed critical and conceptual framework within which to operate while forging connections to wider artistic networks and contexts beyond the studio. 

  • This module builds on your introduction to key concepts in methods for research and its interpretation and communication at Level 4. It updates the knowledge and skills acquired at Level 4 and offers opportunities to apply these by focusing on the contemporary and interrogating studio-based practice. The module will focus on critical themes and issues in contemporary research practice in art and design history, as performed by researchers including academics, curators and art and design practitioners. The module will interrogate the shifting relationship between art and design history, theory and studio-based research practice. You will correspondingly explore a range of creative interpretative and communicative research-based activities such as exhibition making, curation, policy writing, and academic publishing. This will develop skills in producing research for a variety of media, aims and audiences.

    The module is designed to support students' learning across their Level 5 modules, enabling them to create the critical framework within which to explore current issues in art and design practice, interpret the production, consumption and display of historical and contemporary artefacts, and develop their own informed practical approaches to the communication of art and design history and theory using these as disciplines with which to interrogate contemporary art and design culture. Throughout, students will establish a clear position for themselves, and present (in spoken and written form) their interests and perspectives.



Year 3

  • This module is designed to be the culmination of previous studio practice modules in which you are required to synthesise the contingent parts of their prior academic experience and to consolidate your learning. This will be done through a comprehensive body of work, enabling you to progress to professional practice or further study.

    At previous levels of study, you will  have progressed your learning incrementally and as such they you will have acquired the tools to engage with this module and demonstrate your achievements in an appropriate final presentation. You will be encouraged to reflect on the knowledge and skills that you have acquired during your degree and, through independent, peer and group learning you will be encouraged to learn how to present them to an audience external to your immediate peer group.

    Additionally, you will be encouraged to continue to develop an authoritative understanding of contemporary fine art and the critical evaluation skills essential to fine art practice.

  • Building on previous achievements in the professional presentation of your work to an audience, in this module you will fine-tune your exhibition skills and extend your ability to document and communicate your work in a way that is fitting to your individual professional aspirations.

    You will be required to develop your understanding of how to pursue a professional fine art practice, and an awareness of the possibilities for success in both continuing as an artist and / or moving into other related areas. A combination of final exhibition and portfolio will enable you to highlight and synthesise your achievements in the final year of undergraduate study and to produce documentation that can be applied to a range of career choices.

  • Dissertation
  • The special topic is an opportunity for a responsive, research-led module. The specific subject can be defined in relation to a particular staff member's research or may have a more thematic drive drawing on convergent aspects in interests across the staff team.


You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University on a not-for-credit basis as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Study abroad as part if your degreeMost of our undergraduate courses support studying or working abroad through the University's Study Abroad or Erasmus programme.

Find out more about where you can study abroad:

If you are considering studying abroad, read what our students say about their experiences.

Key information set

The scrolling banner(s) below display some key factual data about this course (including different course combinations or delivery modes of this course where relevant).

We aim to ensure that all courses and modules advertised are delivered. However in some cases courses and modules may not be offered. For more information about why, and when you can expect to be notified, read our Changes to Academic Provision.

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