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As art historians, we use the visual and the material to learn about the world around us. 

In Scotland, art history is a university-level subject that combines approaches from many disciplines to ask questions about power, identity, economy and environment. We pride ourselves in having the UK’s longest-established chair going back to 1880, and today you’ll join scholars from Africa, Asia, South and North America, as well as from Europe. 

Subject area video

Introducing History of Art

Professor Carol Richardson, Head of History of Art, gives an overview of the subject area at Edinburgh College of Art.


66 Members of staff
626 Students
9 Programmes
4367 Alumni

Why choose us?


You’ll study in one of the largest, longest-established, fastest-growing and most diverse History of Art Schools in the UK.


Our city is home to some of Europe’s most valuable art collections, as well as one of the UK's liveliest contemporary art scenes.


History of Art is one of the classic humanities disciplines. You’ll learn how to interpret and critique images and objects of almost every conceivable kind.


Our students can take courses from across the University of Edinburgh and you’ll be taught by experts who are active writers and curators.


Our graduates can be found in leadership roles in the arts worldwide. Edinburgh is where those careers start.

Image shows groups of people enjoying looking at variery of artworks in ECA's Sculpture Court on the opening night of the 2023 Graduate Show

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Our programmes in history of art

We have a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes on offer.

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News and features

Illustrated promotional image for Assassin's Creed Image: ACMirage_© Assassin's Creed & Ubisoft Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

Edinburgh art historian helps build new Assassin’s Creed video game

An Edinburgh College of Art historian has helped build the immersive digital world of ninth century Baghdad for the latest installment in popular video game franchise Assassin’s Creed.

 Digital Film Still of Installation, a person crouches by the water edge holding a piece of sculpture in the water. Image: Lorna Phillips

Edinburgh graduates win big at RSA New Contemporaries

ECA graduates taking part in the RSA’s annual exhibition have been recognised with awards following the opening of the exhibition, including the prestigious £15,000 Glenfiddich Artist in Residence Award.

A photo of Elizabeth Blackadder and John Houston, Elizabeth is holding a cat. Image: Royal Scottish Academy/Blackadder Houston Charitable Trust

Significant bequest from former ECA lecturers will fund new opportunities for painting students

A new bequest from the estate of ECA alumni and former lecturers Dame Elizabeth Blackadder RSA and John Houston RSA OBE will fund an extensive programme of support for artists in Scotland, including new funding awards for ECA students.

Photo of a yellow Travelling Gallery bus. Image: Travelling Gallery

Travelling exhibition highlights campaigns for fair housing conditions in Scotland

Four postgraduate students on ECA's MSc by Research in Collections and Curating Practices programme have collaborated with the Travelling Gallery and the University of Edinburgh Art Collection on a new mobile art exhibition about community-led struggles for safe, affordable housing in Scotland.

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+44 (0)131 651 5800