Course overview

Art represents power. Art reflects society. Art makes us think and feel. Studying the history of art helps us see how we got where we are today. And how the future might look.

You'll explore visual cultures across periods, media and societies. You'll also look at how art is both written and talked about.

All the time you'll be questioning. Why that material? Why that subject? How did people react then? What does it mean now?

You'll be free to explore widely or follow a theme such as politics or feminism.

Art in context

We make a point of getting out of the classroom:

  • Funded field trip to a major European city where you'll develop your own project in response to what you see and experience
  • On-campus galleries at Lakeside Arts are integral to our teaching
  • Regular visits to study sites and objects at first hand

Watch some of our students reflect on the recent Lakeside exhibition "Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945".

Art in the community

We have close links with Nottingham's dynamic arts scene - including the award winning Nottingham Contemporary and the artist-led Primary - providing opportunities for placements and volunteering.

Research-led teaching

The Centre for Research into Visual Culture actively encourages undergraduates to engage with its research. The recent seminar series "Re-writing history? Monuments, iconoclasm, and social justice movements in 2020" involved our students in the latest debates on statues and monuments - their history and links to oppression and protest.

You don't need to have studied Art or History of Art to apply and succeed on the course.

Your department

Find out more about what it’s like to study in the Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies and check out Nottingham History of Art on Instagram.


“I looked at the modules and thought they seemed really interesting and applicable to loads of future careers as well. You don’t have to work in a museum when you come out the other end.”

Hannah McCurrie, History of Art BA

Why choose this course?

Range across media

Examine painting, sculpture, architecture, graphics, photography, film and more

Explore across time

We cover visual culture from the Renaissance to the present day

Top 10

Ranked top 10 in the Complete University Guide 2023

Practical experience

Link up with our cultural partners such as Nottingham Contemporary, New Art Exchange, Primary, Backlit and Surface.

Engaged learning

100% of our students agree we've made the subject interesting

Learn with experts

Regular talks and guest lectures including artists, conservation specialists and curators

Quality teaching

100% of students agree that staff are good at explaining things

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2023 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level ABB

Please note: Applicants whose backgrounds or personal circumstances have impacted their academic performance may receive a reduced offer. Please see our contextual admissions policy for more information.

IB score 32

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

If you have already achieved your EPQ at Grade A you will automatically be offered one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject.

If you are still studying for your EPQ you will receive the standard course offer, with a condition of one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject if you achieve an A grade in your EPQ.

Foundation progression options

You can also access this course through a Foundation Year. This may be suitable if you have faced educational barriers and are predicted BCC at A Level.

Mature Students

At the University of Nottingham, we have a valuable community of mature students and we appreciate their contribution to the wider student population. You can find lots of useful information on the mature students webpage.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Different ways of exploring art suit different methods of teaching and assessment.

We're interested in using technology to expand the classroom. For example, using Padlet to develop discussions and ideas outside of seminars - you can share and contribute when inspiration strikes, not only at an appointed time.

We make a point of getting out of the lecture theatre and looking at art "in the field". This enables us to think about the commissioning, production and curation of pieces in context.

Teaching quality and support

We work hard at the quality of our teaching:

  • all of the History of Art team having nationally recognised teaching awards
  • one of our team, Dr Lucy Bradnock, was honoured with a student nominated Lord Dearing Award 2021 for her commitment to being available to her students
  • 100% of our students said our staff were good at explaining things in the National Student Survey 2022


If you have worries about your work we won't wait for them to become problems. You'll have a personal tutor who will support your academic progress and help find solutions to any issues.

"As a personal tutor, I work with you on your academic progress, but I also have a pastoral role with regards to your well-being. I see how you get on across all your modules, which enables discussions about you as an individual."

Dr Gabriele Neher, Senior Tutor

Teaching methods

  • Field trips
  • Lectures
  • Practical classes
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Placements
  • Workshops

How you will be assessed

A combination of essays and exams are the norm for most modules. You might also be asked to do a presentation or analyse source materials like a guidebook or museum wall label.

For field trip based modules you'll need to keep a study diary recording your observations and experiences. This can contain drawings, photos as well as text.

Assessment methods

  • Commentary
  • Dissertation
  • Essay
  • In-class test
  • Portfolio (written/digital)
  • Presentation
  • Reflective review
  • Written exam

Contact time and study hours

The minimum scheduled contact time you will have is:

  • Year one - at least 12 hours
  • Year two - at least 10 hours
  • Year three - at least 8 hours

Weekly tutorial support and the accredited Nottingham Advantage Award provide further optional learning activities, on top of these class contact hours. Your lecturers will also be available outside your scheduled contact time to help you study and develop. This can be in-person or online.

As well as your timetabled sessions you’ll carry out extensive independent study. This will include course reading and seminar preparation. As a guide 20 credits (a typical module) is about 200 hours of work (combined teaching and self-study).

Class sizes vary depending on topic and type. A popular lecture may have up to 100 students attending while a specialised seminar may only contain 15 students.

Your lecturers will be members of our academic staff.

Study abroad

Pre-pandemic, over 1,500 of our students a year benefitted from living and learning in a different culture. As borders re-open we'll once again be enabling and encouraging our students to take advantage of the opportunities Nottingham's position as a global university brings.

You've a range of options - from short summer schools, a single semester to a whole year abroad.

We've a dedicated team to help you with the practicalities and many opportunities mean you pay reduced fees.

If you need support for your language skills before you go our Language Centre will have resources to help.

Explore the university-wide opportunities


On your course

Our work placement module provides opportunities to build workplace skills that apply to whatever career you develop.

Students have also taken placements with Backlit and Surface Gallery.

Internships, placements and other work experience

Our competitive internships offer you the opportunity to get experience with leading US and UK media companies.

Crop up Gallery

One of the UK's leading student-run curatorial collectives. Opportunities to curate, network and gain professional experience.

Creative Student Network

Helps develop the skills and experience for careers in the creative industries, including workshops with leading industry partners.

Creative Pathways with Lakeside Arts

Events and internships to help you gain insight and experience of the creative industries sector.

Across the university

Our reputation means we can work with top employers to offer high quality general internships and work experience placements. Check out our Careers and Employability Service for what’s on offer.

Nottingham Advantage Award

Boost your employability with a range of employer-led projects and career development opportunities through the Nottingham Advantage Award.


"Crop Up has allowed me to understand how I can transfer the skills from my degree into something more vocational and learn a lot about working in professional creative environments in the process."

Beth Sillince, History of Art BA and former Crop-Up Gallery Director

Study Abroad and the Year in Industry are subject to students meeting minimum academic requirements. Opportunities may change at any time for a number of reasons, including curriculum developments, changes to arrangements with partner universities, travel restrictions or other circumstances outside of the university’s control. Every effort will be made to update information as quickly as possible should a change occur.


Our students come from a wide range of backgrounds and experience. The first year ensures everyone has the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive on the degree.

Through a series of six core modules you'll:

  • examine key developments, methods, materials and processes
  • develop skills in first-hand analysis
  • begin to appreciate how objects relate to their cultural and historical context

Watch our staff explain more about the first year modules.

Core modules

History of Art: Renaissance to Revolution

Explore art and architecture from the Renaissance to the Age of Revolutions (c.1789).

  • Discuss individual artists and works and set them within their historical contexts.
  • Question how changing forms of art relate to their social, political and philosophical contexts.
  • Examine the interplay of individual and collective ideas, practices, and institutions.
  • Think about how contextual study can be married to visual analysis.
History of Art: Modern to Contemporary

Explore art and architecture from 1800 to the contemporary world.

  • Discuss individual artists and works and set them within their historical contexts.
  • Question how changing forms of art relate to their social, political and philosophical contexts.
  • Examine the interplay of individual and collective ideas, practices, and institutions.
  • Think about how contextual study can be married to visual analysis.
The Language of Art History

Discover how art history has developed as a discipline.

We’ll look at different periods of history and how present thinking is shaped by key:

  • ideas
  • methods
  • concepts
  • terminology
  • debates

Central to this exploration is the development of your own study and writing skills to enable you to better analyse and interrogate art.

Reading and Writing Art History

Following on from The Language of Art History module you’ll consider how objects have been studied and interpreted through different forms of writing.

As part of this you’ll make connections across between the visual arts, and other forms of cultural expression.

A key aim of this module is the continued development of your own study and writing skills.

Art, Methods, and Media
  • Why are particular media and processes used by artists and architects?
  • How does this impact the value, status, and meaning of objects?

We’ll span time from the Renaissance to today and examine materials as diverse as:

  • paint
  • bronze
  • marble
  • plastic
  • text and speech
  • film, both still and moving
  • the human body

You’ll also explore how changes in technology, processes and labour have affected products and production.

Art and Architecture in Nottingham

A vital introduction to the first-hand study of art and architecture.

Through a series of weekly site visits you’ll explore:

  • space - residential, commercial, industrial, recreational, ceremonial
  • function - art galleries, streets, churches, factories, monuments, municipal buildings, museums, private estates, public parks
  • identity - civic, familial, institutional, political, religious

We’ll examine how these change as a city develops and ask important questions about heritage and conservation.

The on-site study will be supported by archival material from Manuscripts and Special Collections. This might include architectural drawings, guide books, maps, newspapers, pamphlets, and photographs.

Year structure

You will take 120 credits of modules all of which are core compulsory modules.

You must pass year one but it does not count towards your final degree classification.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Monday 24 October 2022.

You'll take part in a field trip to a major European cultural centre and carry out an independent study project based on one of the sites visited. Recent destinations have included Berlin, Paris and Rome.

The rest of the year is a free choice of modules to explore your own passions and interests. You can choose to include modules that offer a broader view of visual media and how it operates in the contemporary world as well ones that approach "art" from a different angle.

Core module

International study

Discover a city through detailed exploration of its history and art.

Before you go

  • Lectures covering the art and history of the chosen European city.
  • Visits to relevant sites in Nottingham, London and beyond to develop first-hand looking skills.
  • Develop your own independent research project related to the European destination.

The visit

  • Four or five day city trip.
  • Focused site visits led by staff.
  • Lectures and seminars that consider key approaches to writing about cities and their art and visual culture.


The Department will usually cover the cost of travel to the destination, and accommodation in the city. Participants will usually be expected to pay for meals, museum entry, and local travel costs.

In 2016 students visited Berlin and were advised to budget €25 a day to cover costs (although actual spending varied depending on individuals).

Impact of coronavirus pandemic

If restrictions prevent international travel a study trip will take place to a UK destination instead.

This module is worth 40 credits.

Optional modules

Group 1

You will take from two to four modules from this group.

Art at the Tudor Courts, 1485-1603
This module will provide an introduction to visual art at the Tudor courts, from the accession of Henry VII in 1485 to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. In doing so, it takes account of a wide range of art forms, from portraiture to pageantry, jewellery to the book. Key issues dealt with in lectures and seminars include contemporary theories of visuality and monarchy, the particular context of court culture, and the use of visual material in the service of self -fashioning. It considers the impact of major historical developments including the reformation and the advent of print. As such, the relationship of the arts to politics is a key theme. Through exploring the highly sophisticated uses of visual art at the Tudor courts, the course seeks to re-evaluate the common idea that English art at the time was isolationist and inferior to that of continental Europe.
European Avant-Garde Film

Explore how film can be regarded as an art form through the study of avant-garde cinema in early 20th century Europe.

We’ll start by looking at what is meant by the term ‘avant-garde’, and consider the development of experimental filmmaking in the context of artistic movements such as:

  • Futurism
  • Cubism
  • Dada
  • Surrealism
  • Constructivism

The focus will be on developments in Germany, France and the Soviet Union and consider key trends from abstract animation to Cinema Pur.

We’ll also explore some key concerns of non-mainstream cinema such as:

  • Narrative
  • Abstraction
  • Reflexivity
  • Spectatorship
  • movement, time and space

You’ll examine how experimental film engaged with modernity, including the aesthetic and political strategies of the European avant-gardes.

By the end of the module you’ll be able to:

  • contextualise the avant-garde in relation to broader artistic and historical developments
  • understand the relationships between film and other media

This module is worth 20 credits.

Los Angeles Art and Architecture 1945-1980
This module introduces a number of artistic and architectural practices that emerged in Southern California after 1945. Exploring their cultural and historical context, we will consider the role of Los Angeles in the development of post-1945 American art and architecture, including mid-century modernism, Pop Art, Conceptual Art and Light & Space Art. Central to this module is the question of whether all art made in Los Angeles can be classified as “Los Angeles Art” – that is, the extent to which the art and architecture of the region necessarily reflected the geographical location, climate, and expansive urban layout of Los Angeles. To this end, we will consider the critical reception of art of this period, investigating, amongst other critical constructs, the notions of centre and periphery, regionalism and the cultural construction of the American west that shaped much writing on California during the period.
Memory, Media and Visual Culture

Media, TV, film and visual culture play a central role in forming our knowledge of the past. There is no memory without its representation in language or images. Using a range of case studies, you will explore how different forms of remembrance add weight to what they represent. Who remembers what, when, where, why and to what purpose? Why do screen and other media retell certain stories over and over again, and how is such remembrance linked to the erasure of other pasts? What is the relationship between national and transnational memories, when set against memories of enslavement and its visualisations? These, and other questions, will guide our approach to an interdisciplinary field of media, film and visual studies. The module will also encourage you to reflect critically on regimes of visibility and narration, and on the distinct ways that memories of certain events are communicated via different genres, institutions, and artefacts. This module is worth 20 credits.

The Sixties: Culture and Counterculture

Described variously as an era of dissent, revolution and experiment, the 1960s offers a unique vantage point from which to explore a range of issues and topics pertinent to media and cultural studies. The art of the period brings into view a volatile world where distinctions between different media were becoming blurred (as in performance art, for instance) and where inherited ideas, hierarchies and values were contested, if not exploded. Notions such as the Establishment, the underground, celebrity, obscenity, mass culture, alongside those of personal identity (gender, race, class, sexuality) were all subject to radical questioning in an era where events, such as those of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, challenged the received order of things. This module critically evaluates the idea of the 1960s, starting with its status as a fabled decade that is said to cast its shadow today. Historiographical and geographical questions structure the module.  When and, crucially, where were ‘the Sixties’? Was it primarily an Anglo-American phenomenon? Was it the 1950s until 1963? Did it end in the early 1970s, as some believe, with the Oz Trials?  These and other questions will help us to demythologise the period and begin investigating it anew.

Black Art in a White Context: Display, Critique and The Other

You will explore the works and practices of Black artists that have been displayed or produced in Europe and America from the nineteenth century to the present day. This includes how methods of display, tactics of critique and attitudes towards the 'Other' have defined and influenced how Black art is viewed and produced in the Western world.

Moving through time we'll:

  • examine nineteenth-century attitudes towards African objects
  • explore the influences of ethnography and African material culture on artists working in the early to mid-twentieth century, such as the Surrealists
  • consider artworks produced in the Harlem Renaissance by painters like Aaron Douglas and photographers like James Van Der Zee
  • discover how artists like Jeff Donaldson and Faith Ringgold sought to recover African history, culture, and forms of memory in the context of the civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and how their work responded to the political and social pressures of this period
  • look at the practices of more recent artists like Lorna Simpson, Glenn Ligon, and Kara Walker, and explore how artists have critically re-presented history’s narratives in ‘the present’ before focusing on the curatorial works of Fred Wilson

To finish we'll consider the rise of contemporary African art within European and American art markets, and the related economic and political shifts that have occurred since the colonial era. 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Group 2

You will take up to two modules in this group.

Understanding Cultural Industries

In this module you'll learn how show business is broken down into 'show' and 'business' in film, television and promotional industries and examine how creative decision-making, technology and legislation influence those industries. You'll also learn about how advertising and market research influence the design and production of media in certain regions and how film and television industries have developed in different contexts and periods. This module is worth 20 credits.

Media Identities: Who We Are and How We Feel

This module develops critical modes of attention to the mediation of identity. On our screens and in our headphones, we shape and reshape our selves. Media do not reflect identities but play an active role in bringing them into being. This module takes up the question of 'identity politics', enhancing students' knowledge and understanding of key identity categories that have been advanced and problematized by media scholars, such as gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, national, regional and local belonging, age, ability and disability, and more. The module also interrogates the mediated forms these identities take, considering the politics of looking and visual culture, the politics of hearing and auditory culture, and the politics of affect, emotions and embodiment. The module encourages historical as well as contemporary perspectives.

Film and Television in Social and Cultural Context

During this year-long module you'll:

  • think about industries, audiences and surrounding debates from a social and cultural viewpoint
  • learn about the way that social and cultural meaning is produced by film and television programmes​
  • explore the social practices that surround the consumption of media, such as movie going and television viewing

Some of the specific questions we might look at together include:

  • How do value judgements shape the way in which movies and television programmes get made
  • What is "good" television?
  • What challenges are public service broadcasters, like the BBC, facing and how should they address these?
  • How have writers and producers attempted to use television drama to enact social change?
  • What kind of TV programmes are preferred by streaming services and why?
  • How might binge watching impact on the viewer's experience and social communication?

This module is worth 20 credits.

Digital Communication and Media

Digital communication and media are significantly transforming the ways our societies operate. In this module you will critically explore key issues behind this transformation, and investigate theoretical and practical foundations of digital communication and media and their relationship to contemporary culture. You will study the cultural, political, economic, technical and regulatory contexts from which digital communication and media have emerged and in which they continue to operate. To link conceptual frameworks to real-life experiences and situations, the module also provides opportunities for you to explore the interactive forms and practices that result from the use of digital communication and media through a range of both individual and group activities. This module is worth 20 credits.

Work placement

Combine our in-depth sector knowledge with the Careers and Employability Service skills development experience to get noticed when applying for jobs and during interviews.

From constructing an outstanding CV to practicing graduate level interview skills we'll build on your existing abilities.

You'll also get something concrete to talk about through a multi-week work placement. This will be tailored as far as possible to your subject and career aspirations.

This sort of attention to detail is what makes Nottingham graduates some of the most sought after in the job market.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Other optional modules

Popular modules taken outside of the Department include:

  • Interpreting ancient art and archaeology
  • Philosophy of art

Year structure

You'll take 120 credits worth of modules split as follows:

  • core modules - 40 credits
  • optional modules - 80 credits

You must pass year two which counts one third towards your final degree classification.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

There are no core modules in year three. The focus is on increasing specialisation, theoretical and critical interrogation, and the development of your independent critical voice.

You can choose to write a dissertation, allowing you to explore one of your passions in real depth.

You'll also select from a wide range of optional modules in history of art and wider media cultures.

Optional modules

History of Art modules

Dissertation in History of Art

This module involves the in-depth study of an art historical topic over one or two semesters. You will chose the topic in consultation with a tutor, subject to the approval of the Department. You will be allocated a dissertation supervisor appropriate to the chosen topic. Teaching for this module takes the form of individual tutorials with your dissertation supervisor, as well as group workshops focusing on research, writing, and presentation skills. It provides you with the opportunity to undertake a substantial piece of writing on a topic of particular personal interest.

The dissertation can be taken for 20 or 40 credits.

Photographing America

This module examines the development of photography in America from roughly 1945 onwards. The module breaks the period down into themes and considers:

1. the transformation of ‘documentary’ photograph;

2. the emergence and importance of colour photography;

3. experimental, conceptual and post-conceptual photography;

4. issues of serialism and seriality;

5. landscape photography;

6. the photobook

7. analogue/digital

The module will draw on the work of a diverse range of photographers, including Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, Ed Ruscha, Lewis Baltz, Robert Adams, Robert Heinecken, Stephen Shore, Todd Hido, William Eggleston and Doug Rickard.

Contested Bodies: Gender and Power in the Renaissance

You'll start with an introduction to women's history in the period 1300-1600 in an Italian context. This will include women's domestic and political roles across ages, marital status and class.

We'll then then look at the role of the Renaissance (1400-1600) woman in art:

  • How have women been represented
  • How did women play a part in the consumption and commissioning processes
  • How did women, if at all, become active as the creators of art

Classes will focus on:

  • the role of biblical and patristic writings in shaping attitudes towards women
  • the role of the family and marriage in fashioning gender relations
  • representations of good and bad women
  • women as patrons and producers of art

We'll use methodologies from a variety of disciplines, such as history, art history and gender studies.

Mobility and the Making of Modern Art
New technologies of mobility have long been a defining condition of modernity. It is from this perspective that we will examine modern art while highlighting the interrelated components of movement and speed – mechanized motion, temporality and their political connotations (e.g., social, ideological, artistic trends). This module includes a range of works, mainly paintings, from the mid nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. We will also consider photography and other pre-cinematic forms of moving images such as optical devices, peepshows, and panoramas that added different motion and time to representation. A key question is the role of artists in naturalizing the equation between mobility, modernity, and the West. To this end, our consideration will involve non-Western representations to explore the ideological and economic implications of mobility.
Fascism, Spectacle and Display
This module will examine cultural production during Italy’s fascist regime. There will be an emphasis on the experience of visual culture in public settings such as the exhibition space, the cinema, and the built environment. A wide range of cultural artefacts will be examined, paying attention to material as well as visual aspects. Visual material will be situated in the social, cultural and political circumstances of the period. Topics will include: Fascism’s use of spectacle, fascist conceptions of utopia, the regime’s use of the past, the relationship between Fascism and modernism, Fascism as a political religion, the cult of Mussolini, urban-rural relations, and empire building. The module will also consider the afterlife of fascist visual culture and the question of ‘difficult’ heritage.
Science in Art: 1900 to the present

Explore the influence of scientific disciplines on art production and theory from the early twentieth century to the present day.

You’ll examine how artists have interrogated ideas surrounding objectivity, optics, knowledge, and humanity itself by deploying traditionally scientific methodologies, processes, and epistemologies in the making of visual art.

We’ll consider:

  • artists such as the Surrealists, Marcel Duchamp, Marcel Broodthaers, Mark Dion, Joseph Beuys, Susan Hiller, and Marc Quinn
  • work using diverse disciplines such as astronomy, geology, ethnography, physics, and anthropology
  • concepts and discourses, including psychoanalytic theory, the abject, and the sublime

As a result you’ll appreciate how and why visual artists have been influenced by contemporary attitudes towards science and how this impacted on recent histories of art.

Performance Art

This module traces the development of performance art from the 1950s to the 1980s.

It considers the work of a number of artists in America and Europe in terms of:

  • their focus on the body of the artist
  • the dematerialization of the art object
  • the changing role of the audience or viewer.

Students will engage with a range of theories of:

  • identity, gender and selfhood
  • phenomenology and participation
  • duration, temporality and impermanence pain, endurance and abjection.

Exploring performance art’s relationship with other visual art forms, including dance, experimental music, film and television, this module considers and evaluates the art historical genealogies of performance art and body art and examines the ways in which performance art has shifted the terms of art history.

In addition, it will consider the issues at stake in constructing a history of performance art, and in documenting, exhibiting, and writing about ephemeral, invisible, or indeterminate practices.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Wider media culture modules

Self, Sign and Society

This module equips students you with the theoretical tools needed to explore how social identity is both asserted and challenged through the deployment of signs broadly conceived. 'Sign' is understood here primarily with reference to Saussurean linguistics, and the impact of the structuralist and then poststructuralist movements on disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, semiotics, postcolonial theory, cultural studies and visual culture.

  • How does our accent function as a sign of our class origins or cultural sympathies?
  • Does skin colour always function as a social sign?
  • How do the clothes we wear align us with particular lifestyles and ideological positions and how is this transgressed?
  • How has the phenomenon of self-branding colonised our everyday lives?
  • What does our Facebook profile say about how we would like to be read by the wider world? Does the logic of the sign itself exceed what we intend to do with it?
  • How do the signs that construct a social 'self' circulate in the context of new media?
  • Are there psychological costs associated with living in this society of the sign?

This module will address these and other related questions by introducing students to the approaches of thinkers such as Freud and Lacan, Saussure and Greimas, Barthes and Baudrillard, Levi-Strauss and Geertz, Derrida and Bhabha, and Mirzoeff and Mitchell among others.

Working in the Cultural Industries

The cultural and creative industries are at the forefront of government strategies across the world for developing post-industrial economies, are seen as exciting places to work, and regularly feature at the top of graduate employment destinations.

  • But what are these industries, and what is it like to work in them?
  • How do you gain entry to these competitive, highly skilled jobs?
  • What is ‘creativity’ and why is it so important to modern economies?
  • And what does the future hold for cultural and creative sectors?

We’ll examine the structure, organisation and working patterns in the creative and media industries alongside more practical exercises designed to help you to identify and evaluate your own skills and interests. This combination of industry knowledge and personal reflection is aimed to help you to find a rewarding and exciting career when you leave university.

You’ll also examine key aspects of contemporary work including:

  • the concept of creativity, the knowledge economy and precarious labour
  • important issues such as internship culture, exploitation and inequality

There will be plenty of opportunity to discuss and build upon your own experiences and aspirations, and to conduct independent research on areas of creative and media work that interest you.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Film and Television Genres

Many films share common traits. Together they might be classed as “action”, “made for television” or “low budget”. But how does as film get assigned a genre? Who does the assigning? And what impact does this assigning have?

During the module we’ll delve deep into a particular genre. We’ll examine it’s:

  • key concepts and texts
  • development
  • influence and influences

Building on what you’ve learnt in years one and two you’ll also look at the genre in the context of production and consumption.

As well as knowledge of a specific genre you’ll also develop the skills to apply your learning to other genres.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Auditory Cultures: Sound, Listening and Everyday Life in the Modern World

This module introduces students to the cultural and social role of sound and listening in everyday life. Scholars have argued that, since the Enlightenment, modern societies have privileged sight over the other senses in their desire to know and control the world. But what of hearing? Until recently, the role of sound in everyday life was a neglected field of study. Yet Jonathan Sterne argues that the emergence of new sound media technologies in the nineteenth century - from the stethoscope to the phonograph - amounted to an 'ensoniment' in modern culture in which listening took centre stage.

Beginning with an examination of the relationship between visual and auditory culture in everyday life, this module introduces a variety of cultural contexts in which sound played an important role, including:

  • how people interact with the sounds of their cities
  • how new sound technologies allowed people to intervene in everyday experience
  • why some sounds (such as music) have been valued over others (such as noise)
  • the role of sound in making and breaking communities
  • the role of sounds in conflict and warfare
  • the importance of sound in film and television from the silent era onwards.

We use a variety of sound sources, such as music and archival sound recordings, in order to understand the significance of sound in everyday life from the late eighteenth century to the present.

Gender, Sexuality and Media

Examine how issues of gender and sexuality relate to media and popular culture.

Using the intersectional fields of feminism, queer theory, and media and cultural studies we'll ask some crucial questions such as:

  • How are gender and sexuality represented in media and popular culture?
  • How do media and cultural industries structure gender and sexual inequalities?
  • How are identities and practices of media audiences and users gendered and sexualised?
  • How can gender and sexual norms be challenged in creative and radical ways?

This module is worth 20 credits.

Public Cultures: Protest, Participation and Power

Explore the relationship between public space, politics and technology using overlapping and interdisciplinary fields, including:

  • cultural studies
  • cultural geography
  • digital studies
  • urban sociology
  • cultural politics

You will engage in debates about the changing nature and uses of public space, with an emphasis on urban environments and digital space.

A range of protest movements will also provide case-study material and offer a central focus for your theoretical and practical explorations of the role of new technologies in:

  • controlling space
  • resisting control
  • enabling new forms of civic participation.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Year structure

You will take 120 credits of modules all of which are optional.

You must pass year three which counts two thirds towards your final degree classification.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

As a global university we're keen to offer you the opportunity to develop your language skills as well as your art history and visual culture ones.

Language modules can be integrated into your degree and used towards your required credits.

You can take language modules because it or complements your degree (for example, reading interpretations in their original language), helps your career plans or just for pleasure!

We cater for all levels - from complete beginners upwards.

There are currently nine language options available.

Check out the Language Centre for more information

Fees and funding

UK students

Per year

International students

Per year

*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

Essential course materials are supplied.


You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts.

A limited number of modules may have compulsory texts which you are required to buy. We recommend that you budget £100 per year for books, but this figure will vary according to which modules you take.

The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (for example Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith). They also offer second-hand books, as students from previous years sell their copies back to the bookshop.

History of Art field trips

We cover most costs for the European field trip except food and travel when abroad. Field trips that complement other modules are optional. You will usually arrange your own transport and pay any entry charges.

Volunteering and placements

For volunteering and placements, such as work experience and teaching in schools, you will need to pay for transport and refreshments.

Scholarships and bursaries

Faculty of Arts Alumni Scholarships

Our Alumni Scholarships provide support with essential living costs to eligible students. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

University of Nottingham bursaries and scholarships

The University offers a wide range of funds that can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. See our bursaries and scholarships page for what's available.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships


You will gain skills essential to roles in museums and galleries as well as a wide range of professional jobs:

  • Visual and critical analysis
  • Historical and theoretical study
  • Object-based and academic research
  • Collaborative and independent working
  • Advanced writing, presentation and communication skills

The skills you develop will make your career:

  • resilient - as the nature of work changes you can adapt
  • flexible - you can choose across different sectors as you develop and grow and opportunities arise
  • creative - come up with new ideas and responses to developing situations

Recent graduates are working in areas such as:

  • advertising
  • arts and heritage management
  • business, finance and innovation
  • charity and third sector
  • conservation
  • curating
  • education and teaching
  • event management
  • film and television
  • journalism and broadcast media
  • law
  • marketing and public relations
  • publishing

Find out more about career development and opportunities for History of Art students.

Chloe Austin (now Exhibitions and Research Manager at Maximillian William, London) tells us what she thought of her History of Art degree and how it helped her in her career.

Key fact

Only 14% of employers state that specific degree subjects are a selection criterion. (Institute of Student Employers recruitment survey 2019)

Average starting salary and career progression

81% of undergraduates from the Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £23,938.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

Dummy placeholder image
" Nottingham is a fantastic place to be a History of Art student because there is a really lively local art scene. I've been able to work and volunteer for a few galleries, gaining valuable insight into possible career options. "
Chloe Austin, History of Art BA

Related courses

Important information

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.