History of Art

Why does the world look the way it does?

That is the very simple question that lies at the heart of the discipline of history of art. It explores this question primarily through works of visual art but increasingly history of art has turned its attention to film, television and other popular media, as well as the built environment.

Study history of art at Edinburgh and you can expect to examine all of these visual media, as well as the traditional art forms of painting, sculpture and printmaking. You can also expect to think about art as a global phenomenon. Even if you’re studying European art, you will find it situated as part of a set of global questions.

History of art is one of the classic humanities disciplines: open-minded, curious, and critical. It provides a great cultural education. Its breadth is underwritten by well-established and rigorous methods. It teaches you how to interpret images and objects of almost every conceivable kind; it teaches you how to write critically, and well, about them; it teaches you how to use photographs and other images to help interpret artworks; and it shows you how to do large-scale independent research, a skill which can be developed to masters and PhD levels and beyond.

Edinburgh has one of the UK’s longest-established and largest groups of art historians. All are researching and publishing at the highest levels. They take public engagement extremely seriously, and many have major public profiles. The city, a UNESCO World Heritage is the home of some of Europe’s most valuable art collections, while it is an important and developing centre for contemporary art, and digital media, especially gaming. You can find our graduates in leadership roles in the arts worldwide: all over the world they curate exhibitions, write about art, and shape culture. Edinburgh is where those careers start.

History of Art news

Funding will allow Cole Collins to explore the Kurt Schwitters Archive in Hannover, Germany

Welcome celebration takes place in relocated John Higgitt Gallery in the Hunter Building.

Loyal exchange: the material and visual culture of Jacobite exile, 1716-60

Drawings by Joseph Beuys in the Collection of ARTIST ROOMS: Cataloguing, Analysis and Contextualisation

Meet this year's ARTIST ROOMS Research Partnership interns as they prepare for their final event.

Anna Blaha completes project as part of her internship at the Central Library, Edinburgh.

Funding will allow Kate Sloan to document sculpture wall at Cyprus College of Art.

Meet the team behind the RAIL pop up shop and art gallery.

Third year History of Art students visited the Scottish National Portrait Gallery to gain insight into works.

Prof Neil Cox and PhD student Lara Demori selected visual material to accompany poems.

Upcoming History of Art events

29 Apr 2015 to 27 Aug 2015
19 Jun 2015
Frontier, Periphery or Centre? Society and Material Culture in Medieval Anatolia
9:00 to 18:00
Royal Society of Edinburgh
22-26 George Street