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Aims & Philosophy of the History of Art Department

The History of Art department seeks to develop cultural awareness through the study of art and architecture in the western world across a broad chronological framework. As well as studying the visual features of individual works, students are exposed to the motivations and ideas of those commissioning, making and viewing artwork and are encouraged to acknowledge how this background is manifested in the works themselves as well as their significance in the societies of their time.

Teaching aims to build confidence at interpreting artworks and to support students in their exploration of contrasting perspectives.  Care is taken to help girls to ask the right questions about the pieces they work on in order to help them become more independent at engaging with the vast bank of examples that is necessary for the highest grades.  Critical writing is highly valued in the subject, and through a careful programme of study informed by the expectations of the examiners, subject specialists work closely with students to develop these necessary skills in a systematic and thorough fashion.  Above all, teachers hope to inspire students and transmit their own passion for the subject, with the hope of encouraging girls to continue to enjoy paintings, sculptures and examples of architecture long after the examinations are completed.

Overview of Key Stage 5 Curriculum

The department offers the AQA A level qualification in History of Art.  The focus during the AS level is to provide a foundation for the study of diverse artworks through introducing skills of visual analysis and an awareness and understanding of eight key art historical themes.  Examples to illustrate these various themes are taken from a wide-ranging selection of historical periods and geographical locations.  Girls are encouraged to research their own examples in order to develop a more sophisticated understanding of how the themes relate to different artworks.  At A2 level, teaching focuses on two specific historical periods chosen to reflect the specialism and particular interests of teaching staff.

In class, teachers aim to foster an ethos of enquiry and reflection, using detailed analysis of individual artworks to spark discussion and prompt appropriate questions from students that serve to consolidate their learning.  Improving writing skills is central to good performance in the subject, so girls are given specific guidance on how to structure their essays and are frequently assessed with constructive feedback provided.

In common with the other Humanities and Social Sciences, girls taking History of Art will flourish best when they are able to make the connections between classroom learning and wider culture, as such comparisons frequently provide useful analogies through which the understanding of the subject can be deepened.

What makes the department unique from those at other schools?

Students are supported by the superb specialised library that has been built up over many years at QM and provides resources on a variety of periods as well as individual artists.  The course is also taught by academic specialists who are still very much in touch with the latest developments in their discipline, and retain their own interests and passions in the subject.

To learn about the History of Art Department
curriculum in other Key Stages please choose a link