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BA (Honours) Art History and Visual Cultures

This degree will equip you with the knowledge and critical skills to understand the histories and theories of visual, material and spatial cultures. This will be a rich and rounded experience as you go beyond the contextual study of art, architecture and design. You'll explore the power of images to influence debates, both historically and in the present day, and develop transferable skills in visual literacy. As you progress you'll acquire critical skills that address the subject area’s place in the wider humanities and as a component of study in the creative or cultural industries.

Key features of the course

  • Explore images and artefacts from a wide range of periods and places.
  • Become familiar with different approaches to the study of visual, spatial and material culture.
  • Gain skills in visual literacy, criticism and analysis that will make you highly employable.
  • Work on your own project, with the support of a tutor, for the final module of the degree.

We also offer a Diploma of Higher Education in Art History and Visual Cultures (W72) that is the same in structure as the first two-thirds of this degree.

Course Summary

+Shortlist Course

Degree

Degree

  • Also known as an undergraduate or bachelors degree.
  • Internationally respected, universally understood.
  • An essential requirement for many high-level jobs.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of your subject – and the tools to investigate, think critically, form reasoned arguments, solve problems and communicate effectively in new contexts.
  • Progress to higher level study, such as a postgraduate diploma or masters degree.
Course code
R27
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
360
How long it takes
Part time – 6 years
Full time – 4 years
Time limit – 16 years
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits. 

  • You’ll start Stage 1 with a broad introduction to the arts and humanities followed by a module to develop your knowledge and skills.
  • Next, at Stage 2, you’ll study two art history and visual cultures modules, one will engage the modern and contemporary periods, and the other a historical period
  • Finally, at Stage 3, you’ll look at art in a global context, before completing your degree with a themed project module. 

Prepare for OU study with an Access module

We offer two starting points depending on how confident you are or how long it’s been since you last studied. Choose to dive straight in with an OU level 1 module, or if you’d prefer some extra preparation, you can get started with an optional Access module. See Entry requirements for more details.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

In Stage 1 you'll encounter a variety of different times and places and engage with some fascinating people, art works, ideas and stories. As an art history student, this broad interdisciplinary foundation will help you develop the skills and the confident, open approach you need to tackle more specialist art history modules at Stages 2 and 3.
ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Discovering the arts and humanities (A111)60
Cultures (A112)60

Stage 2 (120 credits)

Stage 2 includes two compulsory modules, one relating to the modern and contemporary periods, the other an earlier historical period, with an element of overlap in the ‘long’ eighteenth century. You'll develop skills of visual literacy through a cutting-edge exploration of different ways of looking and analysing visual, spatial and material culture. Each module introduces you to the issues and debates surrounding the production and contestation of value in the sphere of culture, with a focus on ‘heritage’. An overarching aspect is that you'll study art and visual cultures in their broadest definitions, and in their everyday settings, including the transfer of art historical concepts and knowledge to the wider public, curatorial, commercial and industrial contexts.
ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Exploring art and visual culture (A226)60
A new art history module – planned for October 202260

Stage 3 (120 credits)

Stage 3 presents a new history of art, highlighting the vital role that art has played in the stories that Europeans have told about the wider world, and suggests ways in which these stories might be challenged or revised.

For your final module you'll explore a broad art history and visual cultures topic that opens out the widest possible range of approaches, themes, periods and geographies. From this you'll select and develop an independent research project on a subject that interests you.

ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Art and its global histories (A344)60
A new art history project module – planned for October 202360

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 17 March 2020.


Accessibility

We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BA (Honours) Art History and Visual Cultures uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
  • studying a mixture of printed and online material. Online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
  • working with specialist reading material such as works of art and musical manuscripts
  • working in a group with other students
  • using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
  • undertaking practical work
  • using specialist software
  • finding external/third party material online 
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support with any of the elements above, visit our disability page to find more about what we offer. Please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your individual requirements, so we can put arrangements in place before you start.
 

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding.
  • Cognitive skills.
  • Practical and professional skills.
  • Key skills.

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; e-learning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you’ve already completed some study at another university, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. Just tell us what you studied, where and when, and we’ll compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen course.

For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.


Classification of your degree

On successfully completing this undergraduate course, you'll be awarded the BA (Honours) Art History and Visual Cultures degree. The class of degree (first, upper second, lower second or third-class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.

You'll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 


Compare this course

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.

At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.

Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you’ll need to succeed. If you’re not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.

Answer a few quick questions to check whether you’re ready for study success

Preparing for study with an Access module

Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to an OU level 1 module. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.

You'll also benefit from:

  • feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
  • support from a dedicated team throughout your study
  • detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:{% } #%} {% if ( CheckCountryCode() == "IE") { %}

Preparing for study with an Access module

Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to an OU level 1 module. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.

You'll also benefit from:

  • feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
  • support from a dedicated team throughout your study
  • detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:{% } #%}

Arts and languages Access module

What you will study

This multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the arts, humanities and languages. It's perfect preparation for your study with The Open University as you'll develop both your subject knowledge and your study skills. It explores a range of subjects, including art history, English, English language studies, history, modern languages, and also touches on the areas of creative writing and religious studies.

View full details of Arts and languages Access module

In this section:
How much will it cost?
Ways to pay for your qualification and other support

How much will it cost in England?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread, or even reduce, the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • If, like most OU students, you study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year, you'll take six years to complete an honours degree.
  • Our current fee for 60 credits is £3,096*.
  • Our current fee for 120 credits – which is equivalent to a year's full-time study – is £6,192*.
  • At current prices, the total cost of your qualification would be £18,576*.
  • .

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2021. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you start studying.


Skills for career development

All Arts study fosters critical thinking, analysis, and communication. This qualification goes further by enabling students to develop a high level of visual literacy and confidence in engaging with both material and media objects. You'll be able to analyse works of art from a wide range of cultural and artistic genres. You'll also have excellent communication skills and will be able to use a range of digital resources appropriate for the subject, while the independent essay will enhance skills of self-management. These are key skills that are highly sought after in the world beyond study – whether you’re already working, volunteering, or changing career.

Career relevance

Study of the arts and humanities requires an understanding of human activities in diverse cultural environments and historical contexts. The breadth of study and range of cultural texts and objects analysed, combined with clear thinking and communication, make the BA (Honours) Art History and Visual Cultures relevant to a wide range of careers, including:

  • creative and cultural industries
  • education
  • museums, art galleries and other art institutions
  • public administration, local government, the civil service, and social services
  • advertising, journalism, publishing, and public relations
  • legal work
  • business, banking and retail
  • human resources
  • charities and campaigning.

Other careers

Many graduate-level jobs are open to graduates of any discipline, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.

In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills.

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.

In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree:

  • museum curator
  • civil servant
  • advertising manager
  • journalist
  • publisher
  • public relations manager
  • librarian
  • archivist
  • media researcher
  • marketing manager
  • teacher
  • arts administration
  • heritage management
  • charity campaigner
  • HR manager

Register for this course

Start dates
Credit transfer: apply by 10/12/2020

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