History of Art is not only a critical foundation of contemporary Fine Arts practice, but is also a major in the BA degree, complementing studies in disciplines such as Anthropology, Archaeology, English, History, Philosophy and Sociology.

In our undergraduate courses, we focus on a range of themes, theories, spaces and times, which all begin with an understanding of our own position in Johannesburg, South Africa. We explore a diverse range of discourses through which we seek to challenge established paradigms and histories.

YEAR 1 – Film, Visual and Performing Arts (FVPA)

The first year of the History of Art major is incorporated into a School of Arts interdisciplinary course, which is called Film, Visual and Performing Arts (FVPA). Studied over two semesters, this course introduces students to key theories and concepts in the disciplines of History of Art, Digital Arts, Drama, Film, Music and Visual Arts and enables critical understandings of culture in everyday life. Drawing on case studies from the different disciplines, the first semester focuses on questions of representation, contexts and conventions. The second semester explores two overarching and connected themes, ‘stereotypes and power’ and ‘the body, sex and race’. Find out more.

YEAR 2 – History of Art II


Second year is focused more specifically on the discipline of history of art. Visual analysis and critique are the foundation of two semester-long courses orientated around ‘thinking through time’. The first course is an introduction to three of the oldest image-making conventions in art history – landscape, figure and portrait – from ancient to contemporary practice. The second course is an introduction to the curatorial practices and exhibition histories that have shaped different concepts of modernity and modernism from the nineteenth century to the present. Find out more.

YEAR 3 – History of Art III


Third year focuses on ‘thinking through methods’ in four quarter-length courses. The first course introduces different art historical methods and theories through a close analysis of the construction of the Renaissance as an art historical period. The second course introduces a critical framework for understanding archival, curatorial and exhibition practice, while the third course engages concepts of Africa, explored particularly through the relationship between art and artefact. Finally, the fourth course examines contemporary art practice in the context of postmodern and postcolonial theory. Find out more.

Admission Requirements

To apply to study undergraduate History of Art at Wits, please contact our Student Liaison Officer:

Hamisha Bhana
Telephone: +27 (11) 717 4656
Email: hamisha.bhana@wits.ac.za

Undergraduate applications for 2016 close on 30 September 2015.  

Find out more about application requirements and download application forms.