Undergraduate Diploma in History of Art

Course details

Are you looking for a part-time qualification to enrich and extend your knowledge of the History of Art?

Our two-year Diploma is equivalent to the second year of a full-time undergraduate degree. You study two modules from a choice of four, each of which allows you to immerse yourself in a specific period of art history, studying its developments in depth, and within the wider historical context. 

The course reflects Oxford’s exceptional richness in works of art, with museum and gallery spaces such as the Ashmolean and Modern Art Oxford right on hand. You will be offered a rare chance to gain first-hand experience of the visual arts on a regular basis, an option not always possible elsewhere.

You will be taught by our panel of expert tutors, with specialist guest speakers at the Saturday workshops.

Who is this course for?

To enjoy and make a success of this course, you will need lots of enthusiasm for the subject and a high level of commitment to studying it. You must be interested in the critical analysis of art, and be keen to discuss visual experience in an analytical way. We may ask for samples of your recent written work. Above all, we are looking for the capacity for intellectual growth and development.

Formal qualifications are not essential, though previous experience in the study of the History of Art at ‘A' level or first-year undergraduate level (available through our Undergraduate Certificate in the History of Art) is likely to be an advantage. Admission will be based on the information you provide in the application form and at interview. The final decision on admission to the course rests with the Department.

How you will study

This is a part-time, modular course usually taught on Tuesday/Thursday afternoons from 2.00-4.00pm at Ewert House, Ewert Place, Banbury Road, Summertown, Oxford, OX2 7DD. Each module also has five Saturday workshops per year.

Depending on your choice of module, your weekly class will normally be on a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon. 

The weekly sessions are conducted as seminars, combining lecture presentations with opportunities for group discussion. There will also be six additional group tutorials, after class, usually in the fourth and ninth week of each term, devoted to primary sources, research methods and essay writing classes.

Four of the Saturday workshops are devoted to looking at artworks, design and architecture on site, allowing you to develop skills in close, critical visual analysis through direct individual observation and group discussion led by the tutor. We will explore original artworks and the built environment of Oxford and Oxfordshire in depth, as well as London’s temporary exhibitions and permanent collections.

The fifth Saturday workshop is expected to take place in May and will be devoted to the assessed oral presentations.

Throughout the course you will be expected to undertake the necessary background reading from the lists supplied, using the resources of Oxford University’s reference libraries and online academic journals and to complete essays, an oral presentation and a research project to the required standard.

The course in detail

Course structure

There are four modules offered in total, with two being available each year on a rotating basis. The modules will focus on four periods, with each syllabus immersing you in a specialist period in the History of Art. You must successfully complete two modules to gain the Undergraduate Diploma.

The modules of offer for 2021-22 are as follows:

Module 2: High Renaissance and Baroque

Module 4: Modern and Contemporary Art

The modules on offer for 2022-23 are as follows:

Module 1: Late Medieval to Early Renaissance

Module 3: Revolution to Modernity.

In 2021-2022

Module 2: High Renaissance and Baroque is expected to be taught in Ewert House on Tuesday afternoons from 2.00–4.00pm.

Module 4: Modern and Contemporary Art is expected to be taught in Ewert House on Thursday afternoons from 2.00–4.00pm.

Module 2: High Renaissance and Baroque

The syllabus will centre on these themes:

  • Introduction to Themes and Approaches
  • The High Renaissance in Rome
  • The High Renaissance in Venice
  • The Renaissance Moves North
  • Towards the Baroque
  • Baroque Architecture and Sculpture

Module 4: Modern and Contemporary Art

The syllabus will centre on these themes:

  • Introduction to Themes and Approaches
  • Beyond Two Dimensions: Between the Wars
  • 1940s and 50s
  • 1960s and 70s
  • Towards the New
  • Art Now

In 2022-23

Module 1: Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance, expected to be taught at Ewert House on Tuesday afternoons from 2.00-4.00pm.

Module 3: Revolution to Modernity, expected to be taught at Ewert House on Thursday afternoons from 2.00-4.00pm.

Module 1: Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance

The syllabus will centre on these themes:

  • Introduction to Themes and Approaches
  • The Gothic Enterprise: Architecture c.1200–c.1300​
  • The Art of Worship
  • Painted Page and Panel
  • Sculpture and painting in Duecento and Trecento Italy
  • Patronage

Module 3: Revolution to Modernity

The syllabus will centre on these themes:

  • Introduction to Themes and Approaches
  • Romanticism: Imagination, Inspiration, Individuality​
  • Art of the Bourgeoisie: British and French Expressions
  • Impressionist Paris
  • The Bourgeois Critiqued: French and British Expressions
  • The Birth of Modernism


For each module, students must complete three written assignments (two essays of 3,000 words and a research project of 8,000 words), and an assessed presentation.

IT requirements

To study at this level you are expected to have some IT skills, access to a computer and the internet. Your course requires you to engage with the Virtual Learning Environment for course materials and uses the Department’s online assignment submission system. Students need to have regular access to a computer and the internet, and some level of experience and skill including the use of Microsoft Word or similar word-processing package, email and internet browser such as Firefox or Google Chrome.

The computer you use should meet our recommended minimum computer specification.

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 Anthony Buxton, MA, PhD
  • Dr Jan Cox
  • Bryony Leighton, MA
  • Patrick Doorly MA, PGCE, FRSA
  • Kristine MacMichael, MA
  • Dr Manya Pagiavla, FRSA, FHEA, FSEDA
  • Dr Hubert Pragnell,
  • Dr Gill White

Academic advice and support will be provided by the Course Director, Dr Janina Ramirez, and the other tutors on the course. The Department also runs a programme of Study Skills workshops to help you develop and improve the skills needed for effective study. For full details of the Study Skills programme, please contact +44 (0)1865 280892.

For advice on educational opportunities, credit transfer, special needs facilities and sources of funding, please contact Student Support on +44 (0)1865 280355.

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

For general guidance and advice, credit transfer, special needs provision and sources of funding: +44 (0)1865 280355 student.support@conted.ox.ac.uk

For information about Study Skills courses: +44 (0)1865 280892 studyskills@conted.ox.ac.uk

How to apply

This course will open to applications from Monday 21 September 2020.

Award and credit transfer

An Undergraduate Diploma will be awarded on completion of two modules of the course. Outstanding performance will qualify for a Distinction. You will be invited to receive your Diploma at the annual Awards Ceremony of the Department for Continuing Education, held at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre.

The Diploma carries a Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) rating of 120 points at FHEQ Level 5. Credit points may be transferred to the Open University, modular universities such as Oxford Brookes University, and other institutions of Higher Education. For further information about transfer of credit, contact the Course Administrator on +44 (0)1865 280154 or undergraduate@conted.ox.ac.uk

Fees and expenses

The fee for 2021-22 is £2,678 (Home, Islands, and Republic of Ireland students) or £5,031 (Overseas students). An option to pay the fee in instalments may be available. Please be aware that fees will usually increase annually.

Following an announcement by the Universities Minister on 23 June 2020, EU fee status students starting a course in 2021/22 will no longer be eligible to pay fees at the ‘Home’ rate and will instead be charged the higher ‘Overseas’ rate. This change will not apply to Irish nationals living in the UK or Ireland, who will continue to be charged fees at the ‘Home’ rate for the duration of their course. 

Information on financial support can be found on our website here.


The Department for Continuing Education offers day and weekend courses, weekly classesonline short courses and summer schools in the History of Art. In the Undergraduate programme, we offer the Certificate in History of Art, the Certificate of Higher Education, and the Diploma in History of Art. At Postgraduate level we offer a Postgraduate Certificate in Architectural HistoryMSt in the History of Design and MSt in Literature and Arts, along with the DPhil in Architectural History and DPhil in Literature and Arts.

You may also be interested in studying History.

If you are planning on embarking on a new career as a result of your studies, or hope to progress in your current field, you can access help and advice through the University Careers Service.

Overseas students

This course is not suitable for overseas 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.