Our course allows you study the history and theory of art combined with French (post-A Level), German, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese (post-A Level or ab initio), and includes the chance to spend a year abroad studying at one of our partner institutions, such as the Ecole du Louvre in Paris.
You receive a distinctive curriculum which covers the whole history of art, enabling you to choose from a variety of specialist options, while simultaneously becoming proficient in one or more languages. Engage with art works that range from Old Master paintings, through the Pre-Raphaelites and Surrealists, to the most up-to-date contemporary art and visual culture.
Modules explore a wide variety of media, including architecture, urbanism, photography and video, as well as painting, drawing, printmaking, performance art and sculpture. We have also embedded clear pathways to careers in curating and museumship throughout the course should you wish to take them, with modules in every year dedicated to the histories, theories and practices of museums, exhibitions and galleries. At the same time you can either begin the study of a language as complimentary to your course, or improve your current language skills.
One of the major reasons for choosing Essex is the quality of the education you will receive. We are ranked 6th among art history departments in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014). You will be taught by our expert staff in your very first year, a rarity in UK art history courses.
We are also 4th in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014) for Social Sciences in which our Language and Linguistics department is based; a place where talented students become part of our respected academic community.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university
Our expert staff
We are a dynamic group of art historians who investigate the production and reception of images and built environment, across cultures and media, from the early modern period to the present day.
Our art history staff’s research interests include activist art, modernist art and totalitarianism, the relationship of art and science, the artistic status of body modification, expressions of societal anxiety in art, as well as architecture and urbanism.
Our language and linguistics staff are internationally renowned. Their books dominate the reading lists at other universities. All our language teachers are native or bilingual speakers, we maintain excellent student-staff ratios, and we integrate language learning with linguistics wherever there is synergy.
In addition to helping you acquire practical foreign language skills, our staff share their expertise with you in the areas of professional translation, interpreting and subtitling, film and art, business, and culture.
- Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space. Many of our students gain work and research experience through our collection
- Our onsite gallery Art Exchange runs an ongoing programme of contemporary art exhibitions, talks by curators and artists, and exhibitions organised by our curatorial students
- Enjoy regular visits to London galleries, including Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the National Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts, as well as many independent and alternative spaces
- Access to two multimedia language teaching labs which are equipped with state-of-the-art Melissi Digital Classroom software, and fitted with computers integrating audio-visual projectors and large screens
As the graduate job market becomes increasingly global the ability to speak a modern language will place you in a competitive position. Language skills are in scare supply and can be used in almost any job.
Graduates from our BA Art History and Modern Languages are prepared for roles as curators, teachers, translators and journalists. Having strong language skills have enabled our graduates to work in diverse fields including banking, entertainment, media, education and tourism for UK and international companies.
Our recent graduates have gone onto work for a wide range of organisations including:
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office
- National Portrait Gallery
- Victoria and Albert Museum
We also work with the university’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Why we’re great
- We are distinct – study the social and political implications of art and go beyond its historic institutions.
- Our structured programme of study trips at home and abroad takes you far afield and explores local settings
- Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK, comprising original art works and seminal texts – and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space.
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory modules and options chosen from lists. Below is just one example of the combination of modules we offer for the current academic year.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed are subject to change.
The language module that you will study will depend upon your level when you arrive in the department and we are happy to accept students with no previous knowledge of the language. The structure shown below is an example of the progression for a student who has an A Level or equivalent in French, but it is possible to start at an initial level with no prior knowledge of French. Please refer to the progression pathway table to find out which modules are suitable for your linguistic profile.
In your first, second and fourth year you can choose optional modules from other subject areas if you wish.
Teaching and learning disclaimer
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
- Close examination of texts written by artists, critics, art historians and philosophers
- Subsidised gallery visits to work ‘in situ’ for each course
- Gain practical experience in curating, such as handling and installing artworks
- Activities designed to develop your practical language skills, such as role-play and class presentations
- Cultural and social themes are explored through film, music, the internet, theatre and literature
- Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes
- Assessment methods include coursework, for example essays, analysis of source material, exhibition reviews and virtual portfolios, coursework reports, oral presentations
- Languages assessed through role-plays and translations
- Written examinations are also taken for the majority of modules at the end of each academic year