We take full advantage of the resources of Cambridge itself, teaching regularly in the University's museums, especially the Fitzwilliam Museum and Kettle's Yard, as well as studying the city's historic buildings and the art collections held by individual colleges. The curatorial staff of the Fitzwilliam Museum take an active part in the teaching programme, as do staff in related disciplines around the University.
The History of Art course is designed to give students both a broad training in the history of art, and to allow for highly focused study in particular areas of interest. The one-year Part I lays the foundations with general survey courses in the ‘objects of art history’, the ‘making of art’, and the ‘meaning of art’. Towards the end of the year students write a short dissertation on a single object or building of their choice in Cambridge. This is followed by a two-year Part II course where students take a more focused approach to particular topics of their choosing, supplemented by courses on the history and methodology of art history, and on issues relating to art’s collection and display.
The Part II course is based on a menu of Special Subjects taught by individual members of the Department and invited speakers, with two studied in each year. The options offered make the most of the research interests and enthusiasms of the members of staff concerned. Each student is free to select his or her own individual range of subjects, either concentrating on a particular period or country, or adopting a wider range of themes. The Special Subjects involve deep immersion and serious study at an advanced level. Students often surprise themselves in the standard that they can achieve at this level, and appreciate the rewards of such an ambitious and intensive approach. Each Part II student also submits a dissertation on a theme of his or her choice, allowing individual research and the development of an independent analytic approach.