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History of Art and Architecture (JH)

B.A. ; 4 years full-time ; 40 places ; CAO points: 379-506 (2018)

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Telephone Number

+353 1 896 1995

What is Art History?

History of Art and Architecture is about the study of images, objects and buildings. It is unique in developing high levels of visual literacy applicable to a range of career pathways. It explores why works of art 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. Direct experience of objects, artworks, and buildings is fundamental to the discipline and Dublin’s impressive collections of paintings and sculpture, together with its rich architectural heritage provide an ideal basis for study. Students do not need any previous knowledge of art history or any practical skill in art to take this course.

History of Art and Architecture: The course for you?

History of Art and Architecture will appeal to those interested in museums, galleries, architectural heritage, and visual culture. It provides students with essential knowledge and skills for documenting and analysing works of art and architecture. It hones an ability to describe and critically analyse images, builds a rich visual memory, and develops skills in research and its presentation.

History of Art and Architecture @ Trinity

Trinity boasts a wide range of expertise in Irish and European art from medieval manuscripts to contemporary art, while its renowned collections provide a rich body of material for study and analysis. Learning about art and architecture in this unique historical and artistic environment greatly enhances student experience of the discipline. The proximity of the university to the city’s many museums and galleries renders site visits a central and distinctive feature of the undergraduate programme, and particular emphasis is placed on student engagement with the national collections. The Douglas Hyde Gallery, one of Ireland’s leading contemporary art galleries, is situated at Trinity. The University also has a major collection of paintings and sculpture, and a student committee assists the curator in managing this collection. Students of History of Art and Architecture at Trinity develop skills in visual analysis which are rooted in direct experience of art and architecture.

Graduate skills and career opportunities

In recent years graduates have been employed as lecturers, curators, editors, and writers in universities, galleries, museums, publishing houses and art salesrooms in Ireland and abroad. These include the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the Universities of Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge, and Saint Andrews, the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Irish Architectural Archive, and University College Dublin. History of Art and Architecture is particularly important in developing skills in visual analysis which are valuable across a wide range of career paths. Graduates have worked in a broad range of administrative, commercial, and media-based employment and have commented on the usefulness of visual literacy in marketing, public relations, and journalism.

Your degree and what you’ll study

This course teaches you how to analyse works of art and how to understand and explain their historical significance.

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 is also a module on non-Western art – the arts of Japan.


In 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 an historical survey, starting with ancient Greece and 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 an 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 and third year, you will have the opportunity to take courses in a choice of some 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
  • The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer
  • Art in France 1850-1900
  • Art and Modernism
  • Post-Modernism and Contemporary Art
  • The Arts of Japan
  • Approaches to Art History and Criticism
  • Art in Ireland: Making and Meaning

These courses comprise a mixture of lectures and small group seminars.

In the second and third years of the programme, students may take part in the annual field trip. These trips allow students to undertake detailed first-hand analysis of sites and objects. Past destinations have included Madrid, Paris, Florence, Rome and Vienna.


The special subject

If you elect to study History of Art and Architecture in the fourth year, you will select two topics 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, Studies in Architecture and Ornament, Early Modern Portraiture, Gender, art and identity, Painting in Ireland and Britain c1800-1900, and Irish Modern and Contemporary Art.


Assessment is by coursework, examinations and a Capstone research project.

Study abroad

Students studying History of Art and Architecture may apply to spend a year abroad, using the exchange networks of the School of Histories and Humanities. These include Erasmus programme links with universities in Berlin, Istanbul, Madrid, Paris and Pisa. In addition, the programme facilitates exchanges with non-European institutions in Australia, Canada, China, Singapore and the USA.

Conor O’Kelly, Dublin, Graduate 2017

“The Department of History of Art and Architecture has equipped me with an invaluable skill set including analysis, criticism and interpretation. Not only have I studied the socio-economic conditions that produced great works but I have gained a greater understanding of contemporary art and society. My time in this course has brought about the realisation of the career path I hope to follow.”

Course Details



CAO Points Required

379-506 (2018)

Number of Places


Minimum entry points required are 379-506 (2018)
More information on minimum entry points

Admission Requirements

For general admission requirements please click here

Get In Touch

Telephone Number

+353 1 896 1995