With its spectacular built environment, museums and libraries, Cambridge offers a unique opportunity to study the History of Art. The Department has an exceptional reputation within the field, ranking highly in the Guardian’s League Table and winning outstandingly high student satisfaction scores. It is located in Scroope Terrace, near the Fitzwilliam Museum. Most lectures and seminars take place in the Department, and its facilities include the Faculty Library.


Number of students per year
Typical offer

The minimum offer is A*AA at A-level, or 7 7 6 (42+ overall) from Higher Level subjects in the IB. For other qualifications, please see the University entrance requirements page.

(Please note that Clare typically requires applicants to achieve an A*, 7 or equivalent in an essay-based subject, rather than in Art and Design.)

Essential subjects

There are no specific subject requirements, but all candidates must be taking at least one A-level/IB Higher level essay-based subject.

Useful subjects

History, History of Art, English (Language or Literature), a Language

Written work

Two marked essays in different subjects will be required in advance of interview. One of them may be related to History of Art, but this is not a requirement. The essays must be written in English or translated into English by the candidate.

History of Art at Clare

Clare College, often said to be the friendliest and most welcoming in Cambridge, centres around the beautiful seventeenth-century Old Court and the handsome Memorial Court, built by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (designer of Liverpool Cathedral).

As well as possessing an excellent art collection in its own right, the college prides itself on showing important contemporary sculpture throughout its grounds and runs regular photography and fine art competitions for its undergraduates. Former students have gone on to senior positions in academia and the arts.

Part I is a one-year course which offers a broad introduction to the making and meaning of art. Part II involves the study of special subjects, which range from the art and architecture of medieval Europe to the modern period.

Visit the University's subject page for more information.

Dr Alexander Marr's advice for prospective applicants: I think my advice is simple. Go to as many museums and galleries as possible. These could be the major national galleries in London, Edinburgh, etc, but they could equally be regional ones, and no museum is too small! Spend time not just looking, but attempting to describe what you see—this is a harder task to do successfully than it might seem—before exploring the historical context of the object through the wall text or catalogue (many catalogues are online now, eg the British Museum’s). Additionally, and if you can’t attend galleries in person, there are lots of great online resources via gallery websites, including short videos about important works. The National Gallery is particularly good. Attend free lectures, in person or online, that are offered by museums and research institutions. The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies on British Art is a great example. And of course, read—but try to be up to date! Look at the webpages of university lecturers to see what they’ve been publishing, which should be at the cutting edge of the discipline.