A level History of Art

History of Art provides students with an intimate environment for focused and intense discussion revolving around the history and development of Western Art. Classes are highly interactive, and students are encouraged to discuss and debate their ideas with both their tutor and with each other. A major advantage of studying History of Art at Ashbourne is the College’s proximity to the world-class galleries and museums of central London, and students are able to take full advantage of Ashbourne’s location to undertake regular visits to exhibitions in order to see original art in venues including the National Gallery, The Royal Academy of Art, Tate Modern and Tate Britain, the Wallace Collection and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

There is also an overseas trip each year, where students get to visit other major European cities and explore the galleries, museums, art and architecture relevant to their own unique cultural heritage and development.

History of Art provides a wide range of both print and audio-visual resources that students use throughout the course of their studies, and are also encouraged to be familiar with the practical work produced by the other creative and expressive disciplines within the department. The teaching staff are both passionate and highly knowledgeable, and are committed in striving to instill in their students a lifelong interest in, and enthusiasm for, the study of art and artefacts.

Why study History of Art?

The study of History of Art, first and foremost, provides students with the skills and the critical vocabulary they need in order to analyse and interpret works of art. However, History of Art goes beyond providing a mere overview of artistic trends, giving students a wide-ranging cultural and historical understanding as the course follows the progression of Western art from the Classical world to the present day. Students are taught to consider works of art within their historical and cultural contexts; this makes A level History of Art an ideal complement to other humanities subjects (including English Literature, English Language, History, Classics, Modern Languages, or Philosophy) but it is also a helpful A level for students of Fine Art as it helps them to make links between their own work and that of previous artistic traditions. By the end of the course, students should be able to look at any painting, drawing, sculpture or building and analyse it critically in terms of its composition and historical context.

Which syllabus do we follow?

Ashbourne follows the Edexcel specification for A level History of Art.

Who teaches this course?

Katie Pettitt

[MA Contemporary Art Theory and Criticism (Essex), BA English Literature and History of Art (Joint Honours) (Birmingham), Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in Post Compulsory Education and Training (UEL) ]

Katie studied History of Art and English Literature at undergraduate level at the University of Birmingham and holds a Master’s degree in Contemporary Art Theory from the University of Essex. Katie has held various roles in the arts sector in London, including working for the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), Anne Thorne Architects and most recently the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), for which she collaborated with internationally acclaimed artists on innovative and high-profile art projects in and around London’s Olympic Park. Before teaching at Ashbourne, Katie established History of Art A level at the International School of Creative Arts (ISCA), the only specialist day and boarding school run in association with University of the Arts London (UAL). She joined Ashbourne in 2012 and now teaches History of Art, Media Studies and English. Katie is passionate about engaging students’ interest and encouraging them to develop their enthusiasm for literature and art history both in and outside the classroom.

Will Stockland

[MA History of Art (Scottish MA, Edinburgh)]

Will Stockland studied art history as an undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh, where he specialized in Tudor and Stuart English art, Italian Renaissance art, French Modernist art, and Islamic art and architecture. He has also studied Central Asian and Persian art at the School of Oriental & African Studies (University of London) and the University of Oxford, and is the author of several art-historical publications. Will has taught art history at the Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies, Oxford Royale Academy, Oxford Tutorial College, Carfax Tutorial College, and Tudor Hall School, and has assisted with research and cataloguing at the Ashmolean Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Will is passionate about enthusing students with his own love of art and its history. He is a great communicator and is very experienced in preparing students for the challenges of the A-Level History of Art syllabus.

Beyond A level History of Art

History of Art A level is, of course, ideal for anyone who wants to pursue study in History of Art at undergraduate level; studying History of Art at university is an immensely enjoyable course and can lead to further study of art history at graduate level, or into a wide range of careers including work in arts administration, art galleries, museums, auction houses, art conservation, curatorial posts, and the travel and tourism industries to name just a few. In addition, History of Art A level combines well with (and is a good preparation for) other humanities subjects at university (such as literature and history), but it is equally a good choice for those studying Art and Design courses.

Suggested reading and resources

A World History of Art, Hugh Honour and John Fleming
(Laurence King, 7th Edition)
Impressive and extensive history of world art and architecture from the earliest cave paintings to the 21st century.

Ways of Seeing, John Berger
(Penguin Classics, 2008)
Classic text of how we look at paintings, first published in 1972.

The Shock of the New: Art and the Century of Change, Robert Hughes
Hailed as the best, most readable and provocative account of modern art ever written. Covers one hundred years of modern art from cubism to pop and avant-garde.

What Are You Looking At? 150 Years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye, Will Gompertz
What’s the point of modern art? BBC Arts Editor and former director at Tate Modern Will Gompertz takes you on a whirlwind tour to hear the stories behind the masterpieces, meet the artists and help you understand what you’re looking at.

The 20th Century Art book, Phaidon
Presents 500 artists from across the international art scene highlighting iconic works and classics of the future.

The Story of Art, E.H. Gombrich
Classic for all art lovers exploring selected art history from the perspective of the artists.

Publishes books on art, photography, design and contemporary culture.

Koenig Books
Independent bookshop specialising in art, architecture and photography with branches at the Serpentine Gallery and Whitechapel Gallery.

Gallery bookshops
You will find a wide range of art books at all the major galleries including The National, The Portrait, Tate Britain and Modern and the Royal Academy.

What’s on and where
TimeOut’s guide to art in London keeps you up to date with current and upcoming exhibitions at galleries across the city.

Scheme of work