The History of Art Department has lots to offer, and I hope this will give you an insight into what support is around, the trips you can look forward to, and the community-like feel of the department!
The Support Available
The History of Art department offers one to one support for each student, and this has really helped me get through a few intense spells when the deadlines start piling up!
When you first arrive in York, the department delegates a supervisor to each new student. They will be a lecturer from the department.
It’s recommended that you see your supervisor a couple of times a term, typically at the beginning to discuss what you have coming up, and then once at the end to see how the term panned out. They will pop a sheet on the main notice board in the department, and you can go and find a 10/15 minute slot that works for you. The department ensures that supervisors have plenty of available slots so that you can easily schedule a meet-up around your timetable.
You will have the same supervisor throughout your time at York, so you have the chance to build up a rapport with them. As a result, they get to know you and can give you personal pointers.
Someone to talk to
I find it so beneficial to have a consistent listening ear who I can turn to. It is particularly useful having someone from the department to speak to. They understand the ins and outs of your degree and can give you some helpful pointers, such as how to balance your workload.
What I find really comforting is, whilst the department encourage you to see your supervisor at least a couple of times a term, you can organise a meeting with them whenever you feel the need to have a chat. They will also have open office hours during the week when you can pop in and see them, or you can drop them an email and arrange a meeting whenever works for you. It is such a comfort knowing that you’re not alone in the midst of essays and exams and that there is always someone you can chat to. I’m really grateful that we were advised to go and see our supervisors right from the get-go!
My supervisor will not only discuss how I’m getting on with the course and my workload but will also ask how I am doing generally. It is very settling to have a member of the department make sure you’re okay, because sometimes when you have a lot on, you can forget to look after yourself in the process. So having a regular chat, and discussing any struggles you may be facing, always helps me get back on track!
There are various field trips to look forward to during your time as a History of Art undergrad!
The first trip I went on in my first year was to York Minster. A specialist from the department guided us around, and pointed out the key architectural features, and discussed the history of the building with us too.
It was a great opportunity to get to grips with a building which is on your doorstep! I really appreciated the opportunity to have a guided visit to the Minster because it’s such a key highlight in York. Sometimes you forget what’s on offer nearby and take it for granted because it’s so close!
Later in my first year, I was studying about the German artist Kurt Schwitters. At the same time, some of Schwitters’ sculptures were on display at Tate Britain. The department organised a trip to London, and we had a chance to see the sculptures we had discussed in situ.
We also had some free time to wander around the gallery, and I particularly liked exploring the architecture of the building, and seeing some of my favourite paintings in real life, such as Edna Clarke Hall’s Still Life of a Basket on a Chair.
So many possibilities
The trips continue during your third year too, which I think is a nice way to break up the busyness of writing a dissertation and prepping for exams.
For one of the new third year modules on offer this year – Monuments of the Islamic World: Innovation and Change from Spain to India – the possible locations for the field trip include Andalucía, Istanbul or Morocco.
I particularly like how the department sees the importance of seeing the buildings/ artworks you’re studying. This really gives you a multi-faceted understanding, and you can draw on your visiting experience in essays and your dissertation too!
Small community-like feel
The History of Art department feels like a little community! The department takes roughly 50 students each year. As the cohort is quite small, you get to know your course mates quite quickly. I found this really settling, especially when you first arrive in York, as everyone worries about getting to know people. You change to different modules each term, and this transition is much easier when you recognise familiar faces in your new lectures and seminars.
The department also organises welcome drinks during your first week in York. This was such a fun and informal way to chat with my year group and meet new people!
The History of Art department make sure you get lots of opportunities to meet people, see the architecture and art you’re studying about, whilst getting consistent one to one support! You will be in good hands if you come and study History of Art at York 🙂