Dear student,

My name is Heather Pulliam, Head of History of Art at the University of Edinburgh.

On 27 May you received a message from the Principal of ECA. As promised in that message, I’m writing to you today to provide a few more details about the plans we are working on for students joining us in the School of History of Art this September.

History of Art at the University of Edinburgh

Welcome to History of Art at ECA, the second-largest History of Art department in the UK. Our teachers are world-leading researchers, with specialisms ranging from the prehistoric to the contemporary and from Europe, Mesoamerica and Southeast Asia. As a UNESCO World Heritage city and the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh has world-class historical collections, galleries, historic architecture, archives and sites as well as an active and dynamic cultural sector. Our courses typically feature on-site visits, providing current Scottish Government and museum guidelines allow. We also frequently invite guests such as curators from the national galleries and museums to speak to our classes.

Your Programme Director will help guide you through your academic journey. Additional support will also be offered by Dr Tamara Trodd, our Postgraduate Director in History of Art.

The History of Art Society students have already begun scheduling welcome events and a wide range of activities for the academic year (Twitter: @HistoryofartU). Please do follow our School on social media, too (Twitter: @EdiArtHistory; Instagram: @historyofart_edinburgh). Once you join us in September, you will be enrolled in an online group with your fellow postgraduate students, using Microsoft Teams, to help you keep in touch with your peers, and to arrange and find out about study groups and social events.

Our teaching plans for 2021-22

  • We will be following a hybrid model of teaching this year. We have two newly equipped, dedicated classrooms that will allow for a synchronous learning experience, meaning that some students can participate online, and some in the room, at the same time.
  • All of our teaching is research-led: you will be taught by world-leading experts in the field who have extensive publication records and, in many cases, curatorial experience.
  • While we cannot currently confirm what Scottish Government Covid-19 guidelines will be in September, we are planning on the basis that physical distancing of 1m will be required within our teaching spaces. This will mean that, for some courses, up to 10 students can be taught at one time in our dedicated teaching rooms, with others joining synchronously online. In this scenario, students would swap over each week, so that everyone receives the same hybrid learning and teaching experience and contact time online and on-campus. Alternatively, some of our other courses will be taught in groups of up to 10 at a time on-campus only. If Scottish Government guidelines change at any point during the 2021/22 academic year, we will adapt our plans accordingly to reflect these.
  • We are happy to be able to continue to offer our successful Internship programme to taught postgraduate students. This is likely to contain a mix of in-person and online projects, delivered in partnership with a range of museums, galleries and other arts organisations.
  • While your studies will take you across the estate of the larger university, History of Art is fortunate to be housed within Edinburgh College of Art, with its beautiful views of the castle, grassy quadrangle, light-filled café, Sculpture Court and active studios.
  • Most of our courses also feature small student-led learning groups, which provide additional peer support outside of the classroom.
  • All staff and students are invited to our Thursday research seminars. These feature world-leading research presented by art historians and professionals in the cultural and heritage sectors from around the world. You will have opportunities to ask questions and take part in further discussion as part of the seminars.
  • We benefit from a dynamic and welcoming student-led History of Art Society. The group has run an impressive range of events, even during the height of lockdown. In the past, this has ranged from the popular History of Art Society Ball to the Art History Pub Quiz.
  • The most important relationships for many students built at University are not with staff doing teaching (though they are crucial, of course!) but with the people/peers you don’t yet know – people who will challenge and inspire you as a student, and may become future collaborators and lifelong networks.

Our graduates

Together, our alumni form a uniquely diverse and talented community of over 24,000 creatives across the globe. As ECA has grown and diversified, so too has our alumni community. From the painter and musician Alan Davie, to artist and arts promoter Richard Demarco, and writer and illustrator Aileen Paterson, our graduates combine multiple talents and skills. Recent years have seen us witness the success of, among others, curators Stephanie Straine (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art), Ruth Bretherick (Fruitmarket Gallery), Greta Vasileiou (Benaki Museum), and Lauren Colavita (Cadogan Tate); museum director Jérémie McGowan, and Islamic Art expert Finbarr Barry Flood. The 2011 merger between the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh College of Art introduced graduates from Art, Design and Music to our alumni story. Among them are British Fashion Awards winner, Holly Fulton; Oscar nominees Sara Ishaq and Nuria González Blanco; BAFTA-winning animator Will Anderson; and internationally acclaimed artists Katie Paterson, Takahiro

Iwasaki and Rachel Maclean; as well as the composers Kenneth Leighton, James MacMillan, Rebecca Saunders, Max Richter and Vicky Arlidge, and the founder of Streetwise Opera Matt Peacock. Gallerist Jay Jopling studied History of Art at Edinburgh, as did actor Rachael Stirling. I look forward to you joining our alumni community and further extending its inspiring story.

Meet your Programme Director this August

The Programme Director of your Master’s degree is one of the most important people involved in your studies at Edinburgh. They have overall responsibility for the academic content and shape of your degree. If you would like to meet your Programme Director in advance of coming to Edinburgh, I’m pleased to say that this will be possible this year, in late July or August. We will be back in touch in July with a date and time specific to your programme.

Please look out for further email updates, as well as browsing the University website that will provide more general information about getting to and living in Edinburgh.

We are so looking forward to meeting you and our new cohort of students from around the United Kingdom and the rest of the world.

With best wishes,

Heather Pulliam