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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

History of Art

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The History of Art Tripos is a three-year undergraduate course that encourages the visual analysis of art and architecture at close-hand and offers opportunities to explore issues of history, theory, criticism and display. The course covers a broad sweep of art history in Part I, with a chance to choose more specialised subjects in Part II.

The Department is intimate in size and you will receive a high level of individual attention and support from experts in the field, both in the department and in the University art museums and galleries. More details about the course can be found on the University website.

We aim to admit one or two students a year at Murray Edwards and so you would be part of a small but dedicated History of Art community within the College. You would also be connected to the wider network of historians at the college as well as to people in other colleges studying History of Art.  We have no required subjects at A Level (or equivalent), though essay-based subjects including languages would be good preparation.


Studying History of Art at Murray Edwards

Murray Edwards College is a unique environment in which to study History of Art, with its striking 1960s architecture and its world-class collection of art by women artists, the New Hall Art Collection (information here), which features works by artists including Judy Chicago, Tracey Emin, Maggi Hambling and Paula Rego. There are many opportunities for students to get involved with the art collection, including direct access to the works of art when considering dissertation topics and the opportunity to work on projects alongside the curator. 

Our students achieve good results and speak highly of their experiences:

"Studying History of Art at Murray Edwards has given me the unique opportunity to work closely with the art collection's curator," says Semine Long-Callesen who is about to start her third and final year studying History of Art at Murray Edwards.

Our Director of Studies and Fellow in History of Art, Dr Lydia Hamlett, is active in research.  Her interests include: British visual culture, mural painting, women as artists and patrons and Venetian Renaissance art and architecture. 


Admissions Assessment and Interview arrangements

As with all History of Art applicants, if you apply to Murray Edwards and are called to interview then you will be required to sit the History of Art Admissions Assessment while you are in Cambridge for your interviews.  We also ask you to send in written work from your A Level (or equivalent) studies.  You will have two interviews at Murray Edwards:  one will be subject specific, with our Director of Studies and another art historian, while the other will be a general academic discussion with Dr Andrew Spencer, our Admissions Tutor, who is a medieval historian.

At interview we look for evidence of some of the following qualities: being passionate about art and visual culture, being interested in close examination and analysis of art objects, and being curious to question why things look the way they do. In preparing your application, or for interview, it is a good idea to think about where your particular interests lie and what you have done to feed them, for example by reading up on and around the subject, pursuing skills that will aid your study of art history and practising your observation expertise, in the built environment as well as in museum and galleries.


Offer Levels

If you receive an offer from Murray Edwards College then it will usually be the standard University offer of A*AA at A Levels, with the A* to be in an essay-based subject (and not, for example, in Art and Design), or 40-42 points in the International Baccalaureate (IB) with 776 at Higher Level (HL) or equivalents in other qualification.  We may ask for the top grade in a specific subject if we believe that subject to be especially relevant to studying History of Art. We can advise you in case of uncertainty as to what constitutes an essay-based subject.


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