Undergraduate programmes

The School of Art History and Cultural Policy offers a dynamic programme as part of the BA Arts and the BA Humanities degrees. Art History at UCD offers a stimulating curriculum that will see the student challenged to cultivate a diverse set of abilities so as to comprehend our visual and artistic heritage, to critically examine artworks and understand the conditions of their making, meaning and influences, and to consider the process of looking itself. 

Since prehistoric times, the beliefs, aspirations and fears of mankind have been expressed through the production of objects and images. Art History interrogates these objects and images, situates them within historical, stylistic and aesthetic frameworks, and analyses their meaning, development and quality.

In studying Art History students will examine the 'history' of art and visual production, will engage with interrogating the work of art, will examine the artist, will look at stylistic movements whilst also considering the problems with art historical categorization, will focus on society and culture, and also study many of the writers and philosophers who have influenced the history of art.  

Students learn through a combination of lectures, tutorials, seminars, as well as special lecture series and conferences.  In addition, field trips/site visits are a feature of many of courses throughout the undergraduate programmes.

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No prior study of Art History or special requirements are required to take Art History modules at First Year. The only requirements are enthusiasm and a readiness to work hard at this stimulating subject. The First Year modules provide a solid foundation from which to build your knowledge. In lectures you are encouraged to keep your ears and, most of all, your eyes open. In tutorials and on field trips you are encouraged to 'find your own voice' and use the time to clarify issues, ask questions and venture opinions.

Dealing with visual culture - with painting, sculpture, architecture, drawing, photography, performance and the decorative arts - Art History is a stimulating and richly rewarding subject.  

First Year Art History aims to provide students with a comprehensive foundation in the various epochs of art-making, and to introduce the key debates and issues that have resonated throughout the history of art from antiquity to the present day.

There are four lecture modules offered in 1st Year (Level 1).

  • Tools of Art History
  • European Art 1: Giotto to Michelangelo
  • European Art 2: Caravaggio to Turner
  • Art & the Modern World: Impressionism, Independence & Intransigence in the 19th century

Students wishing to progress with art history as a joint major are required to take Tools of Art History (AH10040) and at least one other 1st Year Art History module. All 1st Year modules require students to attend 2 lectures per week.  European Art 1 & 2 modules also offer smaller group learning in the form of supportive tutorials.

  • For detailed information on subject content click here.
  • 2018/19 Year Booklet (information correct July 2018) click here.


For students continuing their studies from First Year as a joint honours students the Second Year courses will expand upon their understanding of the various epochs of art-making, the key debates and issues that have resonated throughout the history of art from antiquity to the present day.  

Second Year Art History courses offer students the opportunity to examine the art of Classical antiquity, the history of Irish art from the 17th to the early 20th century, major themes and ideas of Modernism from 1905-1970, and the buildings, architects, new ideas and technologies that shaped 20th century architecture.

There are 8 modules available – 4 core lecture modules and 4 complementary 'studies' seminar modules for students wishing to major in Art History. Taken together, these lecture and 'studies' seminar modules form themselves into paired groups allowing students to add greater depth to their study of Art History at UCD. 

  • For detailed information on subject content for Stage 2 Art History click here.
  • 2018/19 Year Booklet (information correct July 2018) click here.


The aim of this culminating year in Art History on the undergraduate degree is to build on the knowledge acquired thus far at a deeper level, through a combination of advanced lectures and small group seminars. Final Year students delve into complex issues of art historiography and enjoy challenging modules on specialised subjects.

All Art History majors take AH30010 Writings on Art, select one seminar option, and choose from a selection of lecture modules to fulfil their remaining credit requirements. Students majoring in Art History also have the option of undertaking a semester-long dissertation (AH30080). Many of our modules are restricted to Art History students only; a high level of attendance & participation is expected of our advanced students. Mandatory field trips/site visits are a feature of many final year courses.

  • For detailed information on subject content for final year Art History (Stage3/4) click here.
  • 2018/19 Year Booklet (information correct July 2018) click here.

BA Humanities: Celtic Studies, Art History & History - In this programme the History of the Celts will be placed in a European and global context allowing for a deep understanding of Celtic Civilization from Antiquity to the present day.  Students will also engage with the aesthetic, stylistic, historical and critical elements of the visual arts: painting, sculpture, architecture, the decorative arts and modern visual art forms, including photography, video and will gain digital expertise in Medieval artifacts.

The diversity of choice in the modules that are available – from early Irish and Welsh to Medieval art and architecture, and folklore and migration – draws together Celtic Studies, Art History and History. This unique interdisciplinary programme covers all of these areas, ranging across Celtic Studies, Art History and History.  The core of this programme will see students examine the history, literature, language and culture of the Celts across the centuries.  It will challenge students and will develop their critical thinking and evaluation skills, as well as providing an appreciation of the complexities of ideas, societies, cultures, languages and art.

  • For detailed information on subject content click here.

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BA Humanities: Classics, Art History & Archaeology - This programme provides students with an in-depth grounding in three cognate subject areas: Classics, Art History, and Archaeology. Students who take this course will benefit from the inter-disciplinary study of the visual arts, archaeology, and material culture from antiquity to the present day. The first three years of the programme focus on training and building expertise and skills in the three disciplinary areas.

In Art History students will learn the skills of visual analysis and learn how to read images in their social and cultural context, in Archaeology they will move from the ‘big stories’ to methods and material culture analysis, and in Classics they will use literary and historical analysis along with the visual and material evidence to reconstruct the lost worlds of the Greek and Roman past. It is expected that on completion of the third year students will have accumulated 45 credits in each subject area. Interdisciplinarity will be emphasized in Stage 3, with a core seminar on a key theme (e.g. text and image, memory, environment and culture) and a summer fieldwork project in Glendalough. The focus of the final year will be the dissertation.

  • For detailed information on subject content click here.

Contact details