A Level History of Art

 

What is it about at sixth form level?

Works of art are layered and structured things like poems and stories, built of out of symbols whose significance is not always obvious. By studying History of Art A level, you will learn how to decode them. You will look at their differing styles and the particular techniques, materials and processes that have gone into their construction. Alongside this traditional approach, you will also learn about new perspectives from which to evaluate works of art, such as considering the social context in which they existed and the gender and ethnicity of the people that created them. History of Art is a wide- ranging subject that raises many questions as it is a point of intersection between history, sociology, psychology and philosophy. It is where all the different pieces of the academic puzzle start to make sense.

Lower sixth and upper sixth

At the time of writing, only a brief outline of the new specification has been released by the examination board. Students will begin by studying formal aspects of art and architecture and how they contribute to meaning. They will study in detail two topics from the following three:

(i) Nature in Art;
(ii) Identities in Art; and
(iii) War in Art.

They will then study two art historical periods from a choice of the following five:
(i) Invention and Illusion (The Renaissance in Italy 1420-1520);
(ii) Power & Persuasion (The Baroque in Catholic Europe 1597-1685);
(iii) Rebellion & Revival (The Avant-Garde in Britain & France (1848-1899);
(iv) Brave New World (Modernism in Europe 1900-1939); and
(v) Pop Life (Contemporary Art & Architecture in Britain & the USA 1960-2015).

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

A History of Art A level is excellent preparation for degree-level study in the subject. It is also of benefit to those wishing to pursue studies in or careers in the media, art and advertising. It develops skills of analysis and interpretation that are of great value to a very wide range of subjects. Art historians are much sought after for their analytical and evaluative skills in the art market as well as the museum, heritage and cultural tourism industries.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

You should be interested in both art and history as well as philosophy and religion. You should be interested in ideas, as the course is about learning to understand the meaning of works of art in their historical and social context as well as issues such as style, gender, and patronage.

How is the course assessed?

AS level

Details of the examination format have yet to be finalised.

A2 level

Details of the examination format have yet to be finalised.

Reading

The Story of Art
By E. H. Gombrich
Published by Phaidon Press, ISBN 978-0714832470

A World History of Art
By Honour, Fleming
Published by Laurence King, ISBN 978-1856695848

Art in Renaissance Italy
By Paolettii, Radke
Published by Laurence King, ISBN 978-1856697972

Painting in Renaissance Venice
By P. Humfrey
Published by Yale University, ISBN 978-0300067156

Learning to look at Paintings 2nd Edition
By M. Acton
Published by Routledge, ISBN 978-0935738957

Thinking about Art: A Thematic Guide to Art History
By P. Huntsman
Published by Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 978-1118904978

Exam Board and Specification Codes

Pearson-Edexcel specification codes have yet to be confirmed.

John Cameron
Head of Department

Tiffany

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
Royal Veterinary College (Veterinary Medicine)

"I have loved MPW. The class sizes are very small and it is easy to ask questions. The teaching is really interactive and they all care so much about the students. My Director of Studies helped a lot with my UCAS statement, suggesting what to include and perfecting it with me. I honestly don’t think I would have go any university offers without her help."

Oliver

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A

Progressed to
University of Bristol (Law)

"I’ve had three fantastic years at MPW: I’ve had a happy time; I’ve met some amazing people; and, most importantly, I’ve left school knowing that I have fulfilled my potential, leaving with GCSE and A Level grades that I can be proud of. I feel that the teachers and Directors of Studies all care deeply about their students' futures and performance."

Nathaniel

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A*

Progressed to
University of Edinburgh (History and Politics)

"All of my teachers have been great; they are experienced, friendly and treat us all like adults rather than teenagers. I’ve also enjoyed being in a city. There is so much to do and we’ve been on a lot of theatre trips after school which is something I hadn’t been able to do before. My favourite thing about MPW has been the people I have met."

Ella

Grades achieved at MPW
AAA

Progressed to
King's College London (Biology)

"I would like to say a big thank you to my teachers. Everyone at MPW has been so warm towards me and my teachers are so friendly and willing. They also adapt to learning styles and have been sensitive about responding to my needs; they provide extra help when I need it but also give me space to absorb new topics or information when I need that."

Chris

Grades achieved at MPW
A*A*A

Progressed to
University of Bath (Mechanical Engineering)

"One of my favourite things about MPW is the people I have met, who are all really nice and really fun to be with. My Director of Studies was really enthusiastic which rubbed off on me. She also helped enormously with UCAS, taking the time to clearly explain what I needed to do and supporting me."