History of Art

History of Art is available at A Level, and follows the Pre-U course.

Pupils learn about human history and the artistic expression of civilisations through the study of painting, sculpture and architecture. They look at Western and non-Western art, Rome, the High Renaissance, the Baroque, and Modern art, and also complete a 3000-word personal investigation on a topic of their choice. Object-based education is an essential element of the course, so Sixth Form art historians travel to exhibitions and museums regularly, as well as abroad to both Paris and Rome to study works in situ.

Beyond the Classroom

The Minerva Society organises trips and talks as an integral part of the A Level course, as well as to extend the pupils’ appreciation of art more broadly. Recent speakers have included Simon O’Meara from SOAS and Nick Ross, Director of Art History Abroad. The senior girls also run ArtSpark, a Junior Minerva Society designed to give younger girls some experience of the subject prior to A Level.

As well as the two overseas residential trips to Paris and Rome, the Society takes regular trips to London museums and galleries. Girls have also enjoyed private candle-lit tours of St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle and Sandham Chapel.

Parents’ Trips

Every year, the Department organises and leads a guided day trip to a London art collection for parents, and a guided weekend trip to a European city. In recent years we have visited the National Gallery, Tate Britain, the Foundling Museum, Dulwich Picture Gallery, and the V&A. Weekend trips have visited Amsterdam, Lisbon, Rome, Florence, Palermo, Madrid, Tuscany and Veneto. As well as being great fun, these trips have also raised money for charities such as CAFOD, the Coram Foundation and the Westminster Diocese Lourdes Fund.

SPoKE: The national art history documentary film-making competition

SPoKE is a national art history film-making competition run by the History of Art Department at St Mary’s, in conjunction with Art History Abroad and The Horse Boy Foundation. It is open to all UK pupils in Years 11, 12 and 13. Entrants are required to create a documentary film lasting between 5 and 7 minutes that presents the results of their academic research into a work of their choice. Its purpose is to challenge pupils to link the visual and verbal in an imaginative and creative manner. The competition is judged externally by people from the art and film world.

For information about the 2019 competition (now closed), click on the links below. Information about the 2020 competition will be published here in September 2019.


SPoKE 2019 Information Sheet

SPoKE 2019 Declaration Form