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Art History and Visual Culture

infosheetarthistorytheory-226pxUnderstanding images

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Why study Art History and Visual Culture?

Our world is increasingly visual, and the ability to make sense of images is a valued skill in contemporary culture. Students of Art History and Visual Culture explore the creation, form, and reception of images and objects both historically and in the contemporary moment.

Art History and Visual Culture at Otago

The Art History and Visual Culture programme at the University of Otago is unique in its diversity and breadth. Enjoy the opportunity to develop your visual literacy and analytical skills by pursuing courses across the Humanities that study high art, popular culture, and their intersection as a feature of contemporary life. You will have ‘hands-on’ access to exceptional collections at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, the Hocken Collections, Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, and the Otago Museum. Our courses often make use of these collections for both teaching and assignments.

Flexible course of study

As a multi-disciplinary programme, Art History and Visual Culture provides great flexibility for students to explore their intellectual interests and hone future career skills. While core papers are offered within the programme, the major also includes a rich array of offerings in related subjects, such as Classics, Film and Media Studies, Gender Studies, History, Languages and Cultures, Music, Religion, and Theatre Studies. Because of its flexibility it is a desirable second major and would complement other degrees such as Law and Commerce.

See detailed information about History, Art History and Theory and Visual Culture papers.

Career Opportunities

The skills acquired in this subject make our graduates attractive to employers in the art world, in the cultural heritage sphere, and in such vital sectors as government, publishing, and the media.

Many of our graduates pursue careers in GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums). Some go on to specialised areas such as collections management, conservation, curatorial work, and university lecturing. Others, especially those who have pursued combined degrees in such fields as commerce, computer science or law, have found positions in the business sector, marketing, and design.


Students interested in working as conservators should consider a Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) degree, which provides the necessary academic background in both arts and sciences for further postgraduate training in conservation.