Art History


We would like to invite interested students and their parents to a special History of Art Open Evening event on Wednesday 25th January, 7pm to 8pm. This will provide a chance to talk to current students and staff and to discover more about the subject content and approach to learning on this course.

Following the recent successful national campaign protesting against the sudden decision made by AQA to withdraw the Art History A level, we are delighted to announce that Edexcel are developing a new A level in Art History which we shall add to our subject choices for 2017 entry.

Please follow this link to see the related ‘STOP PRESS’ guidance on our Applications page about how to include Art History as a subject choice.
We shall update these website pages as any further information emerges.

Why choose Art History?

History of Art provides you with an intimate environment for focused and intense discussion revolving around the history and development of Western Art. It provides you with the tools to analyse a range of historical periods from the unique viewpoint of the visual arts. Classes are highly interactive, and you are encouraged to discuss and debate your ideas with both your teacher and with each other.

The course consists of studying works of art and architecture from classical antiquity to the present day. This takes place both in galleries and museums and in the classroom, using digital slides and films. You will learn through discussion, presentations and written essays how to understand these works in the context of the time in which they were made.

A key component of the course seeks to develop your ability to write analytically and to make substantiated judgements in relation to key themes throughout art history. Learning to interpret images and understand design are skills for life! Homework involves consolidating work done in class by reading recommended texts, and adding to notes, making use of TV programmes and the internet. The second year allows for a more in-depth study of two periods in art history.

“I have loved studying History of Art as it has opened my mind to a new way of looking both at art and the architecture around us, especially in Cambridge. The teachers are very knowledgeable and the classes are small and intimate like seminars - everyone can give their views on an art work and answer questions in a discussion.”

You will have the opportunity to visit galleries and architectural sites in Cambridge, Norwich and London, and international visits form a big part of the course. In Year 13 you will have the opportunity to visit Paris or Barcelona whilst in Year 12 you can attend regular project days organised at the Tate Gallery, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Ely Cathedral and the University of East Anglia amongst others.

The department is well equipped with a large slide, video and DVD collection (many programmes are now available online through Clickview), and you will also have access to electronic journals alongside the usual internet resources.

More information about Art History at Hills Road

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Entry Requirements

GCSE grade 6 (or B) in English Language or Literature

Awarding Body


Units of Study

Year 13

Art History - 1

PAPER 1: 3 Hr Exam 50% of the A Level
Section A
Visual Analysis – 3 unseen images
Questions on images provided in the paper assess knowledge and understanding of formal aspects of art and architecture and how they contribute to meaning.

Section B
Thematic Study - two short answer questions & two concise essays.
Two topics studied from a choice of the following four topics:

  • Nature in Art
  • Identities in Art
  • War in Art
  • Journeys in Art

Art History - 2

PAPER 2: 3 Hr Exam 50% of the A Level
Two short answer questions, one concise essay and one long essay

TWO teacher-selected art historical periods from a choice of the following five optional topics.

  • Invention and Illusion (The Renaissance in Italy 1420-1520)
  • Power & Persuasion (The Baroque in Catholic Europe 1597-1685)
  • Rebellion & Revival (The Avant-Garde in Britain & France (1848-1899)
  • Brave New World (Modernism in Europe 1900-1939)
  • Pop Life (Contemporary Art & Architecture in Britain & the USA 1960-2015)