From the Renaissance to the contemporary, studying Art History at UQ enables you to explore in detail the ongoing significance of art as a platform for shaping and interpreting the worlds in which we live.

The Art History Major provides practical skills in visual literacy and communication, critical thinking, historical analysis, academic research and writing, exhibition design and curatorship, opening doors to a variety of employment pathways in the visual arts industries.

Art History is available to study as a Single Major (16 units) or an Extended Major (24 Units). The Major includes courses on Australian art, Renaissance and Baroque Art, Modernism, the history of photography, Asian contemporary art, contemporary art and critical theory, Indigenous arts of the Australia Pacific region, methodologies of art history, and arts writing and curatorship.

Students further benefit from a range of curatorial internship and professional development opportunities across Australia and internationally, as well as placements with the University of Queensland Art Museum. UQ offers one of the few fieldwork courses on Indigenous Australian art available in Australia, an invaluable opportunity to work in a remote indigenous community. Students are also able to undertake an intensive three-week study abroad course in Venice, immersing themselves in Renaissance and Baroque art and architecture, and attending the Venice Biennale.

Learning Pathways through the Art History major

Learning Pathways through the Major and Extended Major: Gateways, Cornerstones and Capstones

There are two Gateway courses for first year art history students, one cornerstone subject, and two third year capstone courses.

 Looking at Art provides a broad introduction to the study of art history in first year. It is designed to equip you with a fundamental tool-kit for the study of visual arts and culture from around the world, including painting, sculpture, drawing, moving image, architecture, ceramics, installation. The course looks at how art functions as collective expression of cultures, nations, and communities across history, and considers the study of art as an intellectual, social, cultural, psychological, emotional and political enterprise. The UQ Art Museum is a teaching clinic for this course, providing active-learning opportunities to study art works at close hand in the Collection Study Room and public galleries.

Art in the Modern World is an introductory survey course on modernity and its relationship to art, technology and mass culture. It covers the history of the European and American avant-garde from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1960s, with reference to photography, mechanical reproduction, cinema, advertising, consumerism, and life in the modern metropolis. The course includes discussion of Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, Dada and Constructivism.

Australia Pacific Indigenous Arts is the second-year cornerstone subject in the Major. The course focusses on the past and present art created by Indigenous peoples of Australia and the Pacific. It considers long-standing cultural traditions that shape art today along with cutting edge socio-political ideas that place these First Nation cultures at the forefront of what is at stake in contemporary global society.

Topics in Contemporary Art is one of the two capstone subjects in the Major. You will be introduced to a variety of approaches to the writing of contemporary art histories, and become familiar with some of the major political, aesthetic and conceptual frameworks driving contemporary artistic production and reception today. The course includes site visits and fieldwork excursions to galleries and museums. 

Readings in Art History is a foundational course on methodologies in art history, and the final capstone in the Major. It engages in detail with the varying methodological approaches of some of the world’s most renowned art historians. Commencing with an overview of the origins of art history as a discipline during the Renaissance, the course proceeds chronologically, concluding with a range of present day art historical methods. Focusing on primary texts by seminal writers, it includes seminars on aesthetics, connoisseurship, iconography, style, semiotics, structuralism, post-structuralism, and globalism.

Careers in Art

Art History is extremely beneficial for those seeking professional careers in both the public and private sectors of the global arts industry. The arts industry is an area of growth, and UQ has an exceptional history of placing graduates in employment positions in private galleries and state art institutions in Queensland, nationally and internationally. Popular positions for art history graduates include: curators, arts managers, arts festival directors, arts editors, arts journalists and critics, public program managers, commercial arts dealers, collection managers, museum staff, and arts administrators.

What are our graduates doing?

Tim Walsh
Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Art History

  • Graduating in 2008, Tim went onto study at Sotheby's Institute of Art, before becoming the Gallery Manager at Milani Gallery, Brisbane.
  • Tim is also completing his Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Art History at the School of Communication and Arts.

Nicholas Smith
Bachelor of Arts (Art History)

  • Graduating in 2015, Nicholas had the opportunity to undertake a three month internship at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC. Nicholas was one of ten inters offered a place, and the only international intern selected.
  • Nicholas ialso completed his Honours year in Art History at the School of Communication and Arts.

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Study Options


Students who complete the Art History major as part of an Arts degree may choose a path to Honours, MPhil or PhD in Art History, or PhD in Art History by Exhibition. Students may also choose to enhance existing qualifications with a Graduate Diploma, or Masters in Museum Studies.

Postgraduate/Higher Degree Research

Teaching Staff in Art History

The Art History staff at UQ have a broad range of teaching and research expertise, and collaborate regularly with a variety of academic and industry partners, fostering networks across the fields of arts publishing, curatorship and museology. They have curated major exhibitions in partnership with national and international museums and galleries, and are also frequent contributors to national and international media.

Teaching strengths include Australian art, and international contemporary art and critical theory (Dr Amelia Barikin); Renaissance and Baroque art, and the historiography of art (Dr Andrea Bubenik); Indigenous art of Australia and the Pacific, and cross-cultural critical theory and photography (A/Prof Sally Butler); and histories and theories of photography and the moving image, and contemporary Asian art (Dr Paolo Magagnoli).