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Diploma of Higher Education in Art History and Visual Cultures

This diploma will equip you with the knowledge and critical skills to understand the part that art, architecture and design have played in everyday life. You will discover the ways that images, environments and artefacts communicate meaning and value through being looked at and handled in both past and present. You will explore the power of images to influence debates, both historically and in the present day, and develop transferable skills in visual literacy.

Key features of the course

  • Explore images and artefacts from a broad range of periods and places.
  • Become aware of different approaches to studying art, design and material culture.
  • Gain skills in visual literacy, criticism and analysis that will make you highly employable.
  • Reflect on your own learning with the support of a tutor.

A nationally recognised qualification in its own right, this diploma of higher education is also equivalent to the first two thirds of the BA (Honours) Art History and Cultures (R27).

Course Summary

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Diploma

Diploma

  • Widely recognised qualification.
  • Equivalent to the first two thirds of an honours degree.
  • Enhance your professional and technical skills or extend your knowledge and understanding of a subject.
  • Study for interest or career development.
  • Top up to a full honours degree in just two years.

This type of course may be of particular interest if you’re living or working in Scotland.

Course code
W72
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.
240
How long it takes
Part time – 4 years
Full time – 3 years
Time limit – 12 years
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

This diploma has two 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 focus your study on art history as you explore the shifting themes in art history through various times and places.

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 foundation will help you develop the skills and the confident, open approach you need to tackle more specialist art history modules at Stages 2.
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 broadly thematic, the other broadly chronological. In the first you'll develop skills of visual literacy through a cutting edge exploration of different ways of viewing art in both past and present. The second module introduces you to artistic change through time and place, from c.1200 to the present day. Again you'll study art in its broadest definition, including not only painting, sculpture and architecture but also, for example, garden design, the taste for Chinese in interior design and contemporary art display at the Venice Biennale.
ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Exploring art and visual culture (A226)60
A new art history module – planned for October 202260

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 Diploma of Higher Education in 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
  • finding external/third party material online

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.


On completion

On completion of this undergraduate course, we'll award you the Diploma of Higher Education in Art History and Visual Cultures.

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

How much time do I need?

  • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner

Preparing for study with an Access module

If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! The OU offers Access modules designed to introduce the subject area, build your confidence and prepare you for further study, and you may be eligible to study an Access module for free! You’ll get:

  • a personal tutor providing regular feedback with one to one telephone tutorials
  • support from a dedicated team throughout your study
  • detailed written feedback.
For this qualification we recommend:

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 £12,384*.
  • .

*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 a computer, travel to tutorials, set books 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 have excellent communication skills. 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 Diploma of Higher Education in 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.

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 diploma:

  • 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 17/12/2020

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