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History of art and architecture (TSM)

Admission Requirements

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Click on the links below to see the available options

+ EU Applicants

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+ Non-EU Applicants

+ Mature Student - Supplementary Application Form

Read the information about how to apply as a mature student, then select the relevant link below to complete the TCD Supplementary Application Form for mature students.

+ Advanced Entry Applications

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What is History of Art and Architecture?

History of Art and Architecture is about the study of images and objects from a wide range of historical periods. It analyses why art works look the way they do and seeks to discover what they say about the societies that created them. It develops skills in visual analysis, critical assessment and communication. First-hand experience of objects, artworks and buildings is at the heart of the discipline and Dublin’s rich collections of painting, sculpture and architecture provide an ideal basis for the study of art history. Students do not need any previous knowledge of art history or any practical skill in art to take this course.

Why study History of Art and Architecture at Trinity?

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 Trinity collections from manuscripts such as the Book of Kells to Georgian buildings to contemporary painting and sculpture.

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

What will you study?

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.


In the Junior Freshman 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.


Over the course of second, third and fourth 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 Foundation 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.


If you elect to study History of Art and Architecture in the 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.


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

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 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.


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.

Further information

Tel: +353 1 896 1995