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 taught at second-year undergraduate level. 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.

Online open event

An online open event was held on Thursday 25 January 2022, from 7-8pm (UK time). If you missed this event but have questions about the course, please get in touch by emailing undergraduate@conted.ox.ac.uk

Coronavirus update

The safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and we are following Government guidance and University regulations, which are subject to change. The teaching on this course in the coming year is expected to take place in person, although we are prepared to move this teaching online (either fully or partly) should circumstances dictate. For example, should social distancing be necessary, we may opt to conduct teaching fully online, or to have some participants accessing teaching from home whilst others join us in the classroom. Offer-holders will be kept informed of all developments.

Quick links

Who is this course for?

To enjoy and make a success of this course, you will need 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. 

Taught at second-year undergraduate level (FHEQ Level 5), this course is the next step if you have either completed, or are due to complete, our Undergraduate Certificate in History of Art, our Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education (having completed some History of Art courses), or other similar courses at first-year undergraduate level (FHEQ Level 4).

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 includes Saturday visits to galleries and museums.

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 group tutorials devoted to primary sources, research methods and essay writing classes.

The Saturday visits  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, as well as London’s temporary exhibitions and permanent collections.

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 on offer for 2022-23 are as follows:

Module 1: Late Medieval to Early Renaissance

Module 3: Revolution to Modernity

The modules of offer for 2023-24 are as follows:

Module 2: High Renaissance and Baroque

Module 4: Modern and Contemporary Art

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

In 2023-24

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


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 Sean Willcock.  Along with Dr Willcock, the teaching panel includes:


  • Mary Acton, BA Hons (Courtauld), FE Diploma
  • Antony Buxton, MA, PhD
  • Jan Cox, BA, MA, PhD
  • Patrick Doorly, MA, PGCE, FRSA
  • Oliver Gosling, MA, RCA
  • Bryony Leighton, MA
  • Kristine MacMichael, MA, PhD
  • Manya Pagiavla, PhD, FHEA, FSEDA
  • Dr Hubert Pragnell, MA, PhD
  • Gillian White, BA, MA, PhD.

Academic advice and support will be provided by the Course Director, Dr Willcock, 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 studyskills@conted.ox.ac.uk 

For advice on educational opportunities, credit transfer, special needs facilities and sources of funding, please contact Student Support on +44 (0)1865 280355 or at studentsupport@conted.ox.ac.uk

Contact information

If you would like an informal discussion on academic matters before applying you may contact the Course Director, Dr Sean Willcock.

Applications and admissions: +44 (0)1865 270312 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

Please click on the ‘Apply’ button which will automatically notify us that you want a link to the online application form. We will email you that link together with a code to waive the application fee, and guidance on completing and submitting your application.

All candidates need to upload the following documents as part of their application:

  • a written statement stating why they wish to undertake the course, and including (if relevant) an outline of previous experience of the subject;
  • contact details for one referee
  • proof of English language ability if a non-native English speaker. Further information on English language requirements can be found here.

Please note that candidates are required to have the higher-level score.

Continuing Education Certificate students who wish to progress to the Diploma should submit their completed application with a statement of reasons for wanting to apply to the course. No reference is necessary.

Other applicants need to provide contact details for one referee. If possible, your referee should be someone who can comment on your academic ability and background, but where this is not appropriate, please choose a referee who can vouch for your motivation, commitment and potential. A reference from a family member is not acceptable.

If you are a Continuing Education Certificate student, a place on the Diploma will be reserved for you if your application form is received by the first deadline and if there are enough places available. If there are more Continuing Education Certificate students than places available, a selective system will operate. Continuing Education Certificate students who are offered a place on the Diploma will be given a place on their first-choice Diploma module wherever possible. If you are offered a place on the Diploma, but are not given a place on your first-choice module, you will be offered a place on the other module running that year.

Admissions decisions will be based on an assessment of knowledge, relevant experience, academic ability, potential and suitability for a course of study. We welcome applicants without traditional qualifications, including those with relevant career or life skills.

Selection criteria

Even if a course has no specific academic entry requirements then: (a) assessment of an applicant’s academic ability and suitability for the course of study will still take place and (b) since applications for many courses often significantly exceed places available, each application will be judged against the gathered field of applicants for each course each year.

The University is committed to promoting diversity, equality, inclusion, and widening access, including during the admissions process. We fully endorse the Equality Policy and our admissions procedures are kept under regular review to ensure compliance with this policy.

Short-listed applicants will be invited for interview.

The final decision on admission to the course rests with the Department.

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 in 2022-23 is £2,780 (Home, Islands, and Republic of Ireland students) or £5,230 (Overseas students). An option to pay the fee in instalments may be available.

Please be aware that fees will usually increase annually.

Information for applicants from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

On 11 May 2021 the UK Council for International Student Affairs published new regulations and guidance to be used in assessing the fee status of students commencing courses in August 2021 and later. We will be using this guidance to carry out fee status assessments for students commencing courses in 2021/22 and later, including students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland. 

If you are an EU national and do not live in the UK then you are likely to be charged Overseas fees. Students with settled and pre-settled status in the UK and some other categories of students who work in the UK can qualify for Home fee status as long as they meet the residence criteria.

Students from outside the UK/Republic of Ireland

If you are from outside the UK/Republic of Ireland, you will be classed either as an ‘Overseas’ or 'Islands' student.

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

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

Please read the English language requirements for undergraduate study on the University's website. Applicants are required to have the higher level scores.

English language test waivers

To request a waiver, please answer the questions in the online application form accordingly.

Criteria for requesting an English language test waiver.


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.