Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture

Professor Lisa Claypool with student co-curators at China's Imperial Modern: The Painter's Craft

Contemporary culture is saturated with visual representations. Advertisements, posters, digital photographs, and other images bombard us on a daily basis. Courses in the History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture (HADVC) teach students to understand our visual world, its messages, and its histories. From representations of sex and death in the Renaissance, to performing bodies in contemporary activist art, to China's design revolution, course topics range widely. Students explore practices of slow looking, learn how to pose original questions of artworks, and engage in creative research projects including faculty/student curatorial projects and pop-up exhibitions in public spaces.


BA Honors Degree Program

Honors students begin by taking introductory (100- and 200-level) courses designed to foster skills of visual analysis and the ability to understand and analyze visual cultures of diverse historical periods and places. HADVC courses typically consider objects and pictures from the early modern, modern, and contemporary eras. Advanced (300- and 400-level) courses concentrate on specific themes and visual media. At this upper level, students learn how to undertake original research, produce scholarly essays, present their ideas orally, and engage critically with various art-historical methods.

Coursework in a language other than English (*6 at the senior level, normally in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, or Japanese) prepares students to conduct research in their advanced courses and in preparation of their honors essays.

In their fourth year, honors students work one-on-one with a professor to develop and complete a research project of their own that culminates in an original thesis (35 pages of prose). The project typically focuses on a particular historical theme or question, and explores a topic that the student formulates in consultation with the student's faculty advisor.

The Honors program in HADVC prepares students for careers in visual culture. Graduates are employed in art galleries and museums, where they curate exhibitions, develop educational programs, write promotional material, and work in fundraising and development. Employment opportunities for graduates also exist in community arts organizations, publishers, auction houses, exhibition installation companies, and elsewhere in the private sector. BA Honors graduates may also pursue additional study at the graduate level, which leads to MA and PhD degrees in the History of Art, History of Design, Museum Studies, Visual Culture, and Art Conservation.

Students interested in applying for the BA Honors program in HADVC are encouraged to contact the HADVC Honors Advisor.

Applications for the program must be submitted through the admissions website of the Office the Registrar by 1 May.


Honors Program Requirements

The University of Alberta Calendar details both the general requirements for the Bachelor of Arts (Honors) degree and the specific requirements of the BA Honors program in History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture.

The minimum requirements of the Bachelor of Arts (Honors) degree in History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture are typically distributed across four years of study as follows. Alternative distributions are also possible.

BA Honors (*120)


Year 1

Junior English (*3)
Junior LOE (*6)
Non-Arts Discipline(s) (*6)
HADVC 100 / HADVC 200-level (*6)
Art or Science Options (*9)


Year 2

HADVC 200-level (*15)
LOE 200-level (*6)
Arts or Science Options (*9)


Year 3

HADVC (200, 300 or 400-level) (*12)
HADVC 400: Theory and Methods (*3)
HADVC 400-level (*3)
Arts or Sciences Options (*12)


Year 4

HADVC 418: Honors Essay (*6)
HADVC 400-level (*9)
Arts or Sciences options (200, 300 or 400-level) (*15)