Graduate Diploma in the History of Art

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Graduate Diploma in the History of Art


Postgraduate Taught Courses

Graduate Diploma in the History of Art

The Graduate Diploma offers a rigorous and varied array of courses designed to give graduates of other disciplines the opportunity to transfer their skills to the study of history of art.  Seeking to encompass both breadth and depth, the programme combines a wide-ranging survey of visual cultures from classical antiquity to the present with object-based seminars focussing on particular areas of the discipline; complementing both is an introduction to art-historical methodologies that invites students to examine the theoretical foundations of the work they are being asked to do.  All these different strands feed into an extended research essay, which is formally assessed.  Upon graduating with the Diploma, students will have acquired a substantial body of knowledge together with the critical tools needed to build on what they have learned, either within the context of their own personal and/or professional development, or by proceeding on to an MA in the history of art.

Key facts

Status Full time
27 students
Duration 9 Months
Language skills English
Application Deadline 5pm GMT 1 April 2019

Graduate Diploma in the History of Art

You can download a pdf version of the prospectus below. 

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The Graduate Diploma is made up of three courses, which run over two and a half terms.

In the Autumn term you follow the Foundations Course, an introduction to different periods, themes and media in history, from the Classical world to today. Alongside this you take a Constellation Course, which concentrates on the detailed scrutiny of works of art, many visible in London collections.

In the Spring term you continue to follow the Foundations Course, and take a second Constellation Course.

In the summer term, the Foundations Course concludes, and you have time to write your Assessed Essay and prepare for the examinations for the other courses you are taking. The Assessed Essay is your chance to carry out extended research into a question, theme or work(s) of art that particularly interests you.

As well as the very full programme of research seminars and lectures that take part in the Research Forum, you are also encouraged to attend other lectures that take place in the Lecture Theatre.

Graduate Diploma - The Foundations lecture course

The Foundations Lecture Series run throughout the year in conjunction with focused study. Courses are designed to offer you a broad coverage of periods, regions, materials and approaches to art and architecture from antiquity to the present.


This is a series of fifty-four lectures given by the staff of The Courtauld. It deals with major themes and issues in the history of Western art. The lectures are organised into nine blocks of six lectures each. Seven of the blocks introduce you to the art and issues involved in the study of particular periods; the other two introduce you to the physical history of works of art, and to questions raised by looking beyond the normal frontiers of Western art.

The lectures are supported by discussion classes which provide an opportunity to analyse the arguments proposed in the lectures, develop critical skills and discuss any questions raised.

The trajectory of the lectures changes annually but a recent programme is as follows:

Classical and Byzantine Art; The Middle Ages; Renaissance Art c. 1350 – 1550; Seventeenth-century Art; Physical History of Works of Art; Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals; European Art & Society c. 1700 – 1830; Nineteenth- & Twentieth-century Art; The Global Contemporary.

Graduate Diploma - Constellations Courses


These courses are designed to investigate art history through examination of a specific historical moment, a geographic region and/or an artistic medium. They offer both rich explorations of individual artists, art works and spaces, and opportunities to question art historical tropes and trajectories. These courses will be led by Courtauld faculty, who will teach two sessions per week which combine lectures and discussion. The courses also include separate weekly seminars led by Associate Lecturers: these seminars will cover material which is related to the theme of the lectures; in the Autumn term, seminars will focus on objects, and in the Spring term, seminars will focus on texts.

The Courtauld is currently offering three Constellation course options in each of the Autumn and Spring terms, covering a broad range of chronological periods, geographical regions, and as far as possible a spread of media (painting, architecture, etc.).

All students are required to take all 4 elements. The Diploma is made up as follows:


Foundations 20%
Autumn Constellation Course 25%
Spring Constellation Course 25%
Essay 30%


Courses are formally assessed in the following ways –


Foundations Course: 20%

Assessed by two 2,500 word essays.


Autumn Constellation Course: 25%

Assessed by one 3 hour examination.

Spring Constellation Course: 25%

Assessed as per the Autumn Constellation Course.


Essay: 30%

Assessed by one 5000 word essay, to be submitted on 8 May 2017


To be awarded the Graduate Diploma candidates must Pass each component.

Bachelor’s Degree – Students will normally have achieved a good 2.1, considered to be an overall average 65% or above.

We accept overseas qualifications equivalent to a 2.1 in a UK first degree (e.g. US applicants should have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above).

If you hold a qualification from outside of the UK, please feel free to contact the Academic Registry; however, please be aware that our staff are unable to confirm whether you will be invited to interview, as candidates are judged on the strength of their applications as a whole.


All applicants are expected to have an effective knowledge of English, both spoken and written. For applicants whose first language is not English, we require proof of English proficiency – for details, please see the English Language Requirements page.



2019/20 Fees Available Here

Fees are subject to change each academic year. Fee info, including what qualifies as home, EU, and overseas fees, can be found here.

Financial support for your studies

Find information about loans, grants, and bursaries to support you during your studies at The Courtauld here.

Apply for this course

Apply for this course or download a prospectus for more information.

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