Undergraduate Certificate in the History of Art

Key facts

Starting: September 2019

Duration: 2 years part-time

Open evening: Tuesday 15 January 2019, 6.00-8.00pm at Rewley House, Oxford

Apply by: 7.00pm GMT/BST on Thursday 7 March and Thursday 9 May 2019

This course is now closed to application for 2019 entry.  Applications for 2020 entry will open in early September 2019.

Course Director: Dr Janina Ramirez

Application status

  • Application closed

Undergraduate Certificate in the History of Art

Are you fascinated by paintings, sculpture and architecture? Do you love visiting galleries and exhibitions, and wish you knew more about the history, techniques and terminology of art?

If so, our two-year, part-time course in the History of Art might be the right choice for you. Equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate degree, it offers an excellent introduction for students who want to develop their knowledge of art through structured study. You will learn more about how artworks are made, and receive an overview of the development of Western art from the classical period to the 20th century. You do not need to have any formal qualification or previous study in the subject area.

The first year will give you an introduction to techniques, ways of looking at the visual arts, and the necessary terms that will underpin all further study. In the second year, you will explore various historical periods in art in greater depth.

Tutors will lead visits to museums and art galleries throughout the course, with trips to current exhibitions whenever possible. Oxford has a wealth of museums and gallery spaces, and we will take every opportunity to introduce these to you.

Completing this course will prepare you well for further study, for example the Department’s Undergraduate Diploma in the History of Art.

Open evening: Tuesday 28 January 2020

The open evening for this course will take place on Tuesday 28 January 2020 from 6.00-8.00pm at Rewley House. If you would like to attend, email undergraduate@conted.ox.ac.uk.

We have also held an online open day event for both our Certificate and Diploma programmes, which is available to view. This hour-long presentation is a great opportunity to see the Course Directors discussing both programmes and answering questions.

Who is this course for?

You will need enthusiasm, commitment and a high degree of motivation if you are to enjoy and complete this course. You do not need any formal qualification or previous study of the history of art. We will judge all applicants by the same criteria – an evidence of interest in the subject, the necessary language skills (see below for English language requirements), a determination to succeed and sufficient time available to devote to studying.

How you will study

The course is taught through weekly sessions, held on Wednesday afternoons from 2.00-4.00pm at Ewert House, Ewert Place, Banbury Road, Summertown, Oxford, OX2 7DD. The classes are lively, structured and informative with plenty of time for discussion. Each class will be illustrated with slides and, occasionally, with video material.

There will also be study visits to museums and galleries, which we will make every effort to arrange at convenient times.

You will need to spend about 8–10 hours in home study per week in term time.

The course in detail

Course structure

Year 1

In the first year, students will be introduced to art historic methods and be given a broad overview of the development of Western art.

Michaelmas term 2019: Unit 1

  • Learning to look at the visual arts
  • A study of colour, subject matter, space, tone, form, composition, etc.
  • The materials and techniques of painting

Hilary term 2020: Unit 2

  • An introduction to museum studies
  • An introduction to critical theory and the use of primary texts

Trinity term 2020: Unit 3

  • Looking at architecture and sculpture

Year 2

In the second year students will study specific art historic periods in greater detail.

Michaelmas term 2020: Unit 1

  • Medieval art and the significance of context

Hilary term 2021: Unit 2

  • The Renaissance

Trinity term: Unit 3

  • Towards the 20th century

Guidance will be given about reading and detailed book lists will accompany each module.


For Year 1, you must complete five assignments of not more than 1,500 words, and a research project of not more than 3,000 words.

For Year 2, you must complete three assignments of not more than 2,000 words, and a research project of not more than 5,000 words.

There is no formal examination at the end of the Certificate course.

IT requirements

This course uses the Department’s online assignment submission system. In order to prepare and submit your course assignments you will need access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification. Students of this course may use the student computing facilities provided in departmental buildings.

Teaching staff

The Course Director is Dr Janina Ramirez. Along with Dr Ramirez, the teaching panel includes:

  • Mary Acton, BA Hons (Courtauld), FE Diploma
  • Dr Meg Boulton
  • Caroline Cannon-Brookes, BA
  • Patrick Doorly, MA, PGCE, FRSA
  • Oliver Gosling, MA, RCA
  • Hubert Pragnell, MA

All our tutors are very experienced, not only in their subject but in teaching adult students. They understand the learning needs of students returning to education and will able to advise you on subject-based study skills throughout the course.

If you are returning to learning after a period of time the Department has a number of Study Skills workshops to help you with study techniques or to write essays. You can obtain information about the Department’s Study Skills programme by contacting +44 (0)1865 280728.

Contact information

If you would like an informal discussion on academic matters before applying you may contact the Course Director, Dr Janina Ramirez: janina.ramirez@conted.ox.ac.uk

Applications and admissions +44 (0)1865 280154 undergraduate@conted.ox.ac.uk

Student Advice +44 (0)1865 280355

For general guidance and advice, credit transfer, special needs provision, residential category and sources of funding: student.support@conted.ox.ac.uk

Study Skills +44 (0)1865 280892

For information about Study Skills courses: studyskills@conted.ox.ac.uk

How to apply

Please use the apply button on this page to download the application form, which includes a reference form. You should complete the reference form and send it to your referee, asking him/her to provide a reference by direct email to us. Please note that the reference is compulsory and we cannot consider your application without it.

If possible, your referee should be a person who can comment on your academic ability and background, but where this is not possible, you should name a referee who can vouch for your motivation, commitment and potential. A reference from a family member is not acceptable.

Please complete the rest of the application form and send it to the address below with the following additional materials:

  • a statement of 300 words outlining your previous experience of the subject (if any) and your reasons for wishing to enrol on the course. No need to send in written work.
  • proof of your English language ability if you are a non-native English-speaking applicant (see below for more information).

Please send your application with the additional materials to:

Course Administrator


Ewert House

Ewert Place

Banbury Road


Oxford OX2 7DD

The application deadlines are Thursday 7 March and Thursday 9 May 2019. Please do not leave it too late to contact us. Late applications may be considered by the Course Director, but only if places are still available on the course. Short-listed applicants will be invited for interview. The final decision on entry to the course rests with OUDCE.

Fees and expenses

The fee for 2019–20 is £2,475 (Home / EU students) or £4,650 (non-EU students), which includes tuition and tutorials. An option to pay the fee in instalments is available. There may be a small fee increase for the second year of the course.

The course fee does not cover entry fees to museums, art galleries or exhibitions. Usually group rates are available and every attempt will be made to keep costs as low as possible by car sharing or by group coach travel. Some books will be recommended for you to purchase but recommendations will be made with costs in mind.

The UK government has confirmed that non-UK EU students commencing their studies in 2019-20 will continue to have ‘Home’ fee status and pay fees at the home rate for the duration of their course.

Non-EU students

This course is not suitable for non-EU students who do not already live in the UK before the course begins. For information, refer to www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration.

English language requirements

Check information on the specific English language requirements for this course.

Applicants are required to have the Higher level scores.

Student spotlight

Sez Maxted

‘I would not hesitate to suggest the course to anyone looking to gain a broad insight into a brilliant and fascinating subject … The tutors will support your learning; they will make the experience fun as well as fulfilling and you will leave the course richer for the experience.’

Read more

Terms and conditions

Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course

Sources of funding

Information on financial support