To give you an idea of what studying history of art at Bristol is like, the following sections explain our degree programmes, teaching methods, the different types of history of art units we run and our assessment process. This is not a formal handbook but you can also examine the current summary of programmes in the Department of History of Art and, if you wish to examine our syllabus and programme structure in detail, you might consult the pages provided for current undergraduates (though please note that this gives details of the programme for the current year, and this is subject to change in future years).
Teaching takes place through a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials. In a typical week a student will have 4-6 'contact hours' with members of staff in the Department . The rest of the time will be spent in directed and independent study.
Lectures are 50 minutes long and vary in size from 30-60 students. They are the sole method of teaching for the mandatory units
Seminars contain a maximum of 14-18 students and offer a chance to examine a subject in greater depth. Our optional units are taught entirely through seminars in all three years, with one two-hour class being held each week.
Tutorials at Bristol typically involve one-to-one sessions with a tutor and are not counted in the 'contact hours' figure quoted above. They are often conducted to help students prepare for essays, projects and presentations, and to give feedback on formal pieces of written work. They are arranged by visiting a tutor during their 'office hours'. Since every member of the teaching staff sets aside a number of hours each week for such informal consultations, all students get plenty of opportunity to discuss their work.
The main types of history of art units are the mandatory lecture units and the optional seminar units. In addition students undertake a major research project in their final year.
Mandatory units are taught in the first and second years and cover broad chronological periods, such as 'European Art 1400-1700' and 'Modern Art 1900-2000'. They are taught via lectures and are intended to introduce students to the art and architecture of the different periods and also to equip students with important analytical and interpretative skills.
Optional seminar units provide students with a chance to examine a subject in greater depth. Specialised units examine in depth an artist, theme, critical subject or period subject which enables students to explore complex issues and develop their understanding of contexts, methodologies and interpretations through working with a variety of sources and materials.
Research projects and dissertations. All students undertake a research project or dissertation in their final year. Work undertaken for the projects and for the dissertation is supervised by a tutor.
Assessment takes place through a combination of exams, essays, presentations and a dissertation. Approximately sixty per cent of the final degree result is based on exams, twenty per cent on essays and twenty per cent on a research project.
Only the second and third year marks count towards the final degree result. This provides first year students with time to make the adjustments necessary for studying history of art at university.