History of Art

Senior school > Curriculum > A level > History of Art

History of Art is a richly stimulating A level subject that is directly relevant in today’s proliferation of visual culture. The course explores the major periods of art history from antiquity to modernity and aims to understand works in their unique context and from a global perspective.

Lessons are active and participatory, with a work of art or architecture often used a starting point for discussion. This kind of visual analysis is an important part of understanding both how to look at art but also how to formulate ideas and build an interpretation. Pupils develop their visual literacy whilst also gaining important insight into the historical context. Pupils are encouraged to think critically and creatively and to explore a range of sources. Finally, the course helps pupils to develop verbal and written communication and analytical skills.


Exam board: Edexcel

Entry requirements: Pupils do not require any previous experience of Art or History, and History of Art does not involve practical work. The skills needed for the course are developed during the course itself. The subject enhances and has direct relevance for most other subjects.

We offer the Pearson Edexcel specification. The course is made up of two units which are assessed in two exams at the end of the course.

The first year of study focuses on visual analysis and two thematic topics: Nature in Art and Identities in Art. The second year of study explores two specific periods: The Baroque in Catholic Europe (1597-1685) and Brave New World: ‘Modernism’ in Europe (1900-1939).

The course develops pupils’ understanding of the relationship between society and art; art historical terms, concepts and issues; the influence of cultural, social and political factors, as well as developments in materials, techniques and processes of both art and architect


The History of Art Department at Gresham’s is committed to presenting pupils with multiple opportunities to pursue the subject beyond the classroom and to experience art works and architecture first hand. There is a tailor made trip abroad every two years, typically to Paris or Rome. There are also annual trips which include London, the Sainsbury centre at UEA and the summer sculpture exhibition at Houghton Hall.

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