Trinity College Dublin

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History of art and architecture (TSM)

Admission Requirements

For Admission requirements please click here


Click on the links below to see the available options

+ EU Applicants

Read the information about how to apply, then apply directly to CAO

+ Non-EU Applicants

+ Mature Student - Supplementary Application Form

+ Advanced Entry Applications

Is this the right course for you?

History of art and architecture appeals to a wide range of students, as well as those with special interests in visual art, archaeology and history. It will provide you with an effective way of developing intellectual rigour and of acquiring the critical and communication skills traditionally associated with an arts degree. You do not need any previous knowledge of art history or any practical skill in art to take this course.

Course content

This course teaches you how to analyse works of art and how to understand and explain their historical significance. It will enable you to develop an awareness of the environment while also providing you with a deeper sensitivity to the culture and ideals of other regions.

You will take a broad range of modules covering the history of painting, sculpture and architecture from antiquity to modern times. Topics available include Irish art, the art of the Italian Renaissance, art in the age of chivalry, the architectural splendours of the Georgian era and the artistic achievements of the twentieth century. There are also modules on non-Western art, such as the arts of Japan and India.

Trinity is the ideal place in which to study the history of art and architecture in Ireland. An environment of exceptional architectural and artistic quality, the campus is within easy reach of the city’s many museums and galleries. The Department places particular emphasis on engagement with this historic environment and on first-hand knowledge of the national and College collections from manuscripts such as the Book of Kells to Georgian buildings to contemporary painting and sculpture.

The Junior Freshman year

In the Junior Freshman (first) year you will take modules providing an introduction to various aspects of Western art and architecture, and to the practice of Art history.

As well as providing a historical survey, covering major periods such as the Italian Renaissance and French Impressionism, the course will introduce you to the methods and techniques of art history. These include the critical analysis of paintings, sculpture, manuscripts and other artefacts, the importance of iconography, and the different technical methods used by artists from the Book of Kells to the present day.

The course also provides you with the knowledge and skills needed to understand and appreciate architecture. It includes an examination of different building materials and architectural drawings as well as training in the visual analysis of buildings. These topics are part of a historical survey of Western architecture, which ranges from Greek temples to modernist structures. Special attention is given to important building types such as the medieval monastery or the country house.

Years two, three and four

Over the course of the Senior Freshman, Junior and Senior Sophister years, you will have the opportunity to take courses in the following areas:

  • Insular art
  • Antiquity and innovation in Early Medieval art
  • The art and architecture of the medieval church, c.100-1220
  • Art in the Age of Chivalry c. 1150-1350
  • Painting and sculpture in 17th-century Europe
  • Painting and sculpture in the Italian Renaissance
  • City court and Campagna: the foundations of early modern architecture
  • Architecture in the 19th and 20th centuries
  • 18th century painting in Britain and Ireland
  • Art in France 1850-1900
  • Themes in Northern painting
  • Modernism and post-modernism
  • The arts of Japan
  • Approaches to art history and criticism
  • Art in Ireland: making and meaning

These courses comprise a weekly lecture and a seminar in alternate weeks.

The special subject

If you elect to study History of art and architecture in the Senior Sophister (fourth) year, you will select a subject dealing with art-historical issues at a more specialised level. Where possible, you will be given the opportunity of studying primary sources and particular emphasis is placed on personal observation and interpretation of original works of art, whether painting, sculpture or architecture. Examples of special subject topics include Art and architecture in late medieval Ireland, Saints and sanctity in medieval Europe, Irish architecture and ornament 1700-1830, Art and religion in the Hispanic world, Painting in Ireland and Britain c1800-1900: artists, institutions and audiences, and Irish modern and contemporary art.

Study abroad

Students have the chance to participate in a study week abroad. Cities visited in the past include Paris, Madrid, Vienna, Rome and Florence. In addition, you may apply to study at a university in France, Germany, Italy or Spain during the Senior Freshman (second) year as part of the Erasmus programme. As you will be required to attend lectures in the language of your host institution, you must possess the necessary linguistic fluency.


Assessment is by coursework, end-of-year examinations, and a final-year dissertation.

Career opportunities

In recent years graduates have been employed in universities, galleries, museums, publishing houses, art salesrooms, architectural heritage and journalism in Ireland and abroad, as well as in a broad range of administrative, commercial and media-based employment outside the field of art and architectural history.

Did you know?

  • The Douglas Hyde Gallery, one of Ireland's leading contemporary art galleries, is situated in Trinity. The College itself has a major collection of paintings and sculpture, and a student committee assists the curator in managing this collection.

Further information

Tel: +353 1 896 1995