A Level History of Art

"One never finishes learning about art. There are always new things to discover. Great works of art seem to look different every time one stands before them. They seem to be as inexhaustible and unpredictable as real human beings."

- E. H. Gombrich, The Story of Art

We aim to do more than teach students the new and exciting discipline of Art History by providing a stimulating environment in which our pupils can develop their intellectual and aesthetic capacities. We encourage them to learn how to see cultures past and present from a range of perspectives.

Why should I study History of Art?

Although students have studied works of art in their Art lessons throughout the school, studying it at A Level allows for a deeper exploration of this vast topic, which is highly enjoyable, rewarding and challenging. Students develop their analytical skills, constructing written arguments and enhancing their visual awareness. In class they develop their communication skills, discussing ideas around works of Art and architecture. This is further developed in the participation of the national Articulation Prize.

History of Art develops a wide range of skills which makes it a realistic combination with a variety of other subjects. It could lead to a career in the media, publishing and marketing or in the more specialised world of auction houses, the heritage and leisure industries or education and arts administration in this country or overseas.

What will I need to study History of Art?

Students need to be enthusiastic and open-minded. Practical art skills are not required but observation, visual curiosity and analytical abilities, together with well-developed literary and historical skills, are paramount. A grade ‘A’ in English at GCSE would be expected and GCSE History or Religious Studies would be very useful. It is a good combination with languages, and for science specialists offers an alternative discipline. First-hand experience of art is vital and our proximity to central London will allow us to visit galleries regularly as a group, and individually for various homework assignments. There is an annual study trip overseas. Recent destinations have included New York, Paris, Florence, Rome, Moscow, and St. Petersburg.


Structure and Outline of the course:

Written examination units cover works of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture from 500BC to 2000AD. There is the opportunity to focus on Art and Architecture in Europe and the USA 1946–2000 and Art and Architecture in Sixteenth-century Europe within this broad course.

Students develop their analytical skills, constructing written arguments and enhancing their visual awareness. In class they develop their communication skills, discussing ideas around works of Art and architecture. This is further developed in the participation of the national Articulation Prize.


Method of Assessment:

Written examinations.


Extension Activities:

Students have the opportunity to visit galleries, enter their work in design and photography competitions, and to attend talks and workshops from external speakers. The department run a series of talks called 'D.I.C.E' (Discuss Inspire Create Engage) where artists, curators, gallery owners, and critics come in to speak to pupils and run workshops.


Student Comments:

“I was amazed how much we learned in one year and how many different subjects History of Art incorporates. I really developed my knowledge of history, religion, and literature.”

“The lessons were really fun: looking at works of art and architecture and learning all the stories behind the works. The course allowed us to make links across the centuries to see how the same themes and issues come up.”

“I enjoyed the trips to galleries as we had the chance to see the scale and details of works we had studied in lessons.”


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