History of Art


The History of Art Tripos consists of a one-year Part I and a Part II in two years, divided into two parts, Part IIA and Part IIB. Those entering the Tripos at Part II level may take both parts over two years, or may take Part IIB in one year. The current format is as follows.

Part I is taken at the end of the first year. The papers examined are as follows:

Paper 1 - The Objects of Art History (one visual exam paper)

This paper focuses on works of art and architecture in and around Cambridge.

Papers 2/3 - The Making of Art (one written and one visual exam paper)

This paper considers painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, photography and performance art and focuses on the use of materials in technique, concept and appreciation.

Papers 4/5 - The Meaning of Architecture and Art (one written and one visual exam paper)

This course is devoted to matters of interpretation, taste and socio-political frame from Early Modern to Contemporary art and architecture.

The scheme of assessment for Part I is completed by a short dissertation of not more than 5,000 words on a work of art or architecture in or around Cambridge.

 In Part IIA you take one compulsory paper along with two Special Subjects:

Approaches to the History of Art – the compulsory paper covers the history of the discipline and its critical methodologies from antiquity to the present day.

Special Subjects – chosen from a range of up to nine, each deals with a particular person, subject or period. They are examined as a pair of papers – one written, one visual exam paper. The subjects currently include papers on Giotto, Paris 1750-1800, French Gothic, Islamic Art, Vision and Representation in Contemporary Art, Russian Painting, and Surrealism.

In Part IIB you take one compulsory paper, two further pairs of Special Subjects papers and submit a dissertation:

The Display of Art – the compulsory paper explores the ways in which art is collected, displayed and experienced in society

Special Subjects – the options available are as those in Part IIA, but you take two subjects that you have not studied before

Dissertation is 7,000 – 9,000 words on a topic of your choice, as agreed with your Director of Studies.

History of Art at Queens’

Students are supervised by the lecturers of the various courses throughout their studies and arrangements for this are agreed by the DoS. The DoS supervises and reads the final draft of the Part I and Part II dissertations though a second supervisor who specialises in the field of art history the student has selected (if the DoS does not specialise in it) is also found.

Candidates attend one interview, led by the DoS and will be required to sit a Cambridge College registered written assessment. There are no desirable subjects and studying Art/History of Art does not necessarily confer an advantage.

Director of Studies 

Dr James Campbell