Faculty of Arts & Science

About Our Undergraduate Programs

To study art history is to enter a dialogue with works of art and architecture that have resonated with viewers across time.

Exploring the ways societies produce meaning is vital to a humanistic education. Art history teaches students to reflect on the world and their place in it by exploring the art and architecture of cultures across history and around the globe. In the process, it cultivates visual discernment and interpretation, vital skills in our contemporary image-saturated society.

The Department of Art History offers minor, major, and specialist programs. In each program, students choose from an array of undergraduate courses covering the artistic heritage of Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East, from the Bronze Age to the present. Some courses range widely across time and space, while others focus on particular artistic forms, traditions, or individual artists. In all courses, students look closely at art, read about its history and interpretation, and hone their writing skills.

Students in all our undergraduate degree programs take either FAH101H1 or FAH102H1. These two introductory courses cover similar ground. Each serves as an overview of art history and cultivates skills that can be applied in upper-level courses. FAH101H1 is a chronological survey of major periods and monuments in the history of art and architecture, emphasizing works that are representative of current upper-level course offerings in the Department of Art History. FAH102H1 introduces the discipline of art history by engaging with a wide range of works and theoretical texts through a thematic structure that varies from year to year. Students are encouraged to take one of these courses early in their progress toward an art history degree.

200-level courses are comprehensive surveys that introduce works from specific chronological periods and regions. They serve as gateways to more advanced courses at the 300 and 400 levels. These upper-level courses include a range of experiential learning opportunities. For example, through the department’s close relationship with the Royal Ontario Museum, specialized seminars are taught each year by members of the curatorial staff on topics ranging from ancient Chinese jades to contemporary textiles. Students at the ROM engage with works of art firsthand and learn from the professionals who care for them.

By the end of their studies in the Department of Art History, students will have acquired invaluable expertise in visual literacy and discernment, in understanding and appreciating cultural differences, and in writing clear and compelling prose. Alumni of the Department of Art History regularly go on to top graduate programs and to rewarding careers in museums and arts organizations as well as in journalism, education, architecture, and business.

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