History of Art

History of Art is an exciting academic discipline; discovering the materials, styles and techniques of artists and also setting art and architecture in an historical perspective. In this context you will be taught social, religious, political and cultural history in addition to visual analysis of the works themselves.

History of Art is a demanding and far reaching course. Who else, in the space of a few weeks, deals with matters as contrasting as the incorporation of myth into 19th century Scottish symbolist work, buon fresco technique, Ovid's Metamorphosis captured in the art of Titian, Savonarola and his effect on Renaissance Florence, 19th century industrial architecture, lost wax casting technique in bronze sculpture, and much more besides?

In short, the art historians have to a large extent incorporated their interest in the subject into their approach to the world around them: all are confident of the importance of the subject to our perceptions of any number of issues, from social or political history to the development of western architecture.

The History of Art department is an exciting, vibrant place where pupils come and use the History of Art library, debate the qualities of "Book of the Week" over a plate of brownies, create historical timelines around the walls and step out of into the wonderful Glenalmond College surroundings to make architectural notes about the buildings or compare winter trees to those painted by Casper David Friedrich.

Although no specific grades are required at GCSE it is an essay-based subject and your English language skills should be good. I expect a strong commitment to hard work and you will need to learn to use your eyes critically and intelligently so that you gain the fullest enjoyment from this fascinating subject.


Sixth Form

For A Level the pupils follow the AQA History of Art course. There is no coursework for History of Art and their grade is based on two examinations sat in the L6 for AS level and two in the U6 for the A2.

The A-level is challenging and open-ended. The exam questions are thoughtful and allow considerable freedom. Pupils need to understand how to analyse paintings, sculpture and architecture, employing rich observation and formal terms; they also need a broad knowledge of western art from 500 BC to the present, and some specialist knowledge of patronage, the role of the artist and of society, architectural construction methods (and so on).

AS Level

Module 1 (Visual Analysis and Interpretation) -the study of the formal aspects of images and how they contribute to a work's meaning.

Module 2 (Themes in the History of Art) - study of art and architecture - classical world to the end of the twentieth century (500BC to 2000AD)


Module 3 -a study of Nineteenth Century European art and architecture
Module 4 - a study of Sixteenth Century European art and architecture

A2 pupils specialise in 19th century Europe, with a particular emphasis upon British architecture and French and British painting, and in 16h century Europe, in which we focus particularly upon Italy and the wonderful Renaissance, all the time comparing it to what was happening in Britain at that time

Extra Curricular


It is important that the pupils go and see art in galleries and they will travel to Edinburgh and Glasgow often over the course of the A level. We also travel to London once a year for gallery visits and workshops,  and alternate trips to Paris and Florence.

Course Value

This subject is considered a full academic A Level by all universities and because of its breadth and cross-curricular study it is welcomed as a good Arts subject which both complements other Arts and/or may be studied with non-Arts subjects. Past students report that the vital essay, visual and critical skills which you will acquire from this course helped them tremendously in their university careers. Equally importantly, they have also thoroughly enjoyed the subject.

Head of Department - Mrs Kate Butler