The History of Art degree combines both a study of visual arts and cultural history. Students study both on site at the University College London, but also make an extensive use of the local galleries, museums and architecture.
On site, UCL has two buildings which are key to the study of this course. The UCL Art Museum holds a variety of artworks, and has its own staff that are experts on all the collections it holds. Students are given talks and able to study various pieces in-house, allowing them to gain valuable skills in how to both handle and study pieces of work. There is also the UCL Institute of Making. This was probably my favourite building, it houses a range of materials, of every texture and type, and is used by those interested in researching made products. This is useful when studying the era of artwork and why different materials are used, allowing students to look at their unique properties and develop both research and scientific skills.
A taster session at the Wallace Collection allowed us to see the type of activities students take part in as part of their study. What I enjoyed most about this part was realising that every object, mural, painting or statue has a story. There is a reason as to why it was created and a story as to how it was made to become the final piece; as a History of Art student, it becomes your job to find out this story. I was fascinated with how by looking closely at an oil painting we could see how a figure in the painting had been moved across the canvas and re-drawn, and how the era of a painting could be identified from the materials used and the technique of the painter.
I had a chance to meet both current students at various points in their degree and students that had graduated. Having a chance to ask questions about anything from living on campus vs. commuting to how to handle the workload and extra-curricular activities is really key in making prospective students feel not only welcomed but capable of going to university. The students who had graduated also gave us a range of experiences of both where and how they studied and how they had moved into the workplace. One student had completed work experience throughout her degree at various art galleries, and another had gone on to work at the Wallace Collection itself.
Not only does UCL provide its own campus accommodation right in the centre of London, but specific to the Department of History of Art, it has relations with the Wallace Collection down the road in Marylebone.
Overall, I found the taster day to be both insightful and engaging. Although I'm already studying at university, the interaction and enthusiasm from the staff actually made me want to re-consider what I was studying. The only downside to the day was how few people there were showing interest in the course. As a student that has already gone through the process of applying to higher education, my best advice would be to consider all options, and try out every opportunity that comes your way. Admittedly this doesn't look like an easy degree at all, but for anyone with a curious nature and an interest in art this is an event I'd recommend going to and a degree I'd seriously consider applying for.
For specific information on the degree and its entry requirements click here.
To order a prospectus click here.