Oxford Art History Online Courses

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Oxford Art History Online Courses is a unique collection of the world’s most highly regarded online Art History e-Courses that you can take daily. Oxford University uses its academic and research expertise to create the content for these courses, ensuring a relevancy and precision in the subject matter.

Oxfords Art History Collection provides a wide range of online courses that lay the foundation through art history fundamentals. Whether you already have or are looking to gain an appreciation for the visual arts, the opportunity is available to you through our range of courses. Whether its a short introduction to Italian Renaissance artists, or a long journey through Ancient Civilization, we have an art history class for you.

Art History Degrees

Online Courses In The History Of Art At Oxford

Short online courses in the history of art

Our short online courses in the history of art include live-time weekly classes, day schools, lecture series and flexible online courses.

Credit earned from some of these courses is transferable towards our Certificate of Higher Education – a part-time undergraduate course in which you study a main subject discipline, but also undertake study in other academic subjects.

Upcoming courses

Van Eyck to Memling: Northern Renaissance Art c.1430-1480


The work of northern Renaissance artists is often incredibly beautiful, with marvellous colours and textures. But there is much more to their work than simple aesthetics, for it evolved from an intriguing range of religious and cultural beliefs.

The Impressionists: Painting Modern Life (Online)


Examine the major concerns of artists such as Cézanne, Monet, Manet and Degas and their intimate interaction with modern life.

Portraiture: A History of the Art


We are all acutely sensitive to the human face, where we read the mood, character, and disposition of those around us. Portraits fascinate because they preserve those features over time and space. The best of them have also been magnificent works of art.

Art Nouveau across Europe (Online)


From Paris to Moscow, Glasgow to Barcelona, this course examines the richness and variety of European art nouveau.

Learning to Look at Modern Art (Online)


This course will seek to provide guidelines about how to look at modern art in an open-minded, critical and analytical way.

Undergraduate Certificate in the History of Art | Oxford University  Department for Continuing Education

Undergraduate Certificate in the History of Art

Are you fascinated by paintings, sculpture and architecture? Do you love visiting galleries and exhibitions, and wish you knew more about the history, techniques and terminology of art?

If so, our two-year, part-time Undergraduate Certificate in the History of Art might be the right choice for you. Taught at first-year undergraduate level, it offers an excellent introduction for students who want to develop their knowledge of art through structured study. You will learn more about how artworks are made, and receive an overview of the development of Western art from the classical period to the 20th century. You do not need to have any formal qualification or previous study in the subject area.

The first year will give you an introduction to techniques, ways of looking at the visual arts, and the necessary terms that will underpin all further study. In the second year, you will explore various historical periods in art in greater depth.

Tutors will lead visits to museums and art galleries throughout the course, with trips to current exhibitions whenever possible. Oxford has a wealth of museums and gallery spaces, and we will take every opportunity to introduce these to you.

Completing this course will prepare you well for further study, for example, the Department’s Undergraduate Diploma in the History of Art.

Online open event: Tuesday 25 January 2022

Join us on Tuesday 25 January 2022, from 6-8pm (UK time) for an online open event.

Who is this course for?

You will need enthusiasm, commitment and a high degree of motivation if you are to enjoy and complete this course. You do not need any formal qualification or previous study of the history of art. We will judge all applicants by the same criteria – an evidence of interest in the subject, the necessary language skills (see below for English language requirements), a determination to succeed and sufficient time available to devote to studying.

How you will study

The course is taught through weekly sessions, usually held on Wednesday mornings from 10.00am – 12.00pm at Ewert House, Ewert Place, Banbury Road, Summertown, Oxford, OX2 7DD. The classes are lively, structured and informative with plenty of time for discussion. Each class will be illustrated with slides and video material.

There will also be study visits to museums and galleries, which we will make every effort to arrange at convenient times.

You will need to spend about 8–10 hours in home study per week in term time.

The course in detail

Course structure

Year 1

In the first year, students will be introduced to art historic methods and be given a broad overview of the development of Western art.

Michaelmas term 2022: Unit 1

  • Learning to look at the visual arts. A study of colour, subject matter, space, tone, form, composition, etc
  • The Materials and Techniques of painting

Hilary term 2023: Unit 2

  • Understanding Sculpture
  • An introduction to Critical Theory and the use of primary texts

Trinity term 2023: Unit 3

  • Understanding Architecture
  • Understanding the Decorative Arts

Year 2

In the second year students will study specific art historic periods in greater detail.

Michaelmas term 2023: Unit 1

  • Medieval art and the significance of context

Hilary term 2024: Unit 2

  • The Renaissance

Trinity term 2024: Unit 3

  • Towards Modern

Guidance will be given about reading and detailed book lists will accompany each module.


For Year 1, you must complete five assignments of not more than 1,500 words, and a research project of not more than 3,000 words.

For Year 2, you must complete three assignments of not more than 2,000 words, and a research project of not more than 5,000 words.

There is no formal examination at the end of the Certificate course.

IT requirements

To study at this level you are expected to have some IT skills, access to a computer and the internet. Your course requires you to engage with the Virtual Learning Environment for course materials and uses the Department’s online assignment submission system. Students need to have regular access to a computer and the internet, and some level of experience and skill including the use of Microsoft Word or similar word-processing package, email and internet browser such as Firefox or Google Chrome.

The computer you use should meet our recommended minimum computer specification.

Teaching staff

The Course Director is Dr Sean Willcock.  Along with Dr Willcock, the teaching panel includes:

  • Mary Acton, BA Hons (Courtauld), FE Diploma
  • Antony Buxton, MA, PhD
  • Patrick Doorly, MA, PGCE, FRSA
  • Oliver Gosling, MA, RCA
  • Bryony Leighton, MA
  • Kristine MacMichael, MA
  • Manya Pagiavla, PhD FHEA FSEDA
  • Dr Hubert Pragnell
  • Gillian White, BA, MA, PhD

All our tutors are very experienced, not only in their subject but in teaching adult students. They understand the learning needs of students returning to education and will able to advise you on subject-based study skills throughout the course.

Art History Degree Online Free

Art history is a fascinating part of the liberal arts education, but how do you learn about it? Some people read books. Others take online art history courses from universities like Harvard or free eLearning websites like Wondrium.

Whether you are studying art history in college, or just looking to explore new ideas, there are many free online courses to take. Here are the top 9 free online art history courses, according to our expert research team.

Learning to Look at the Visual Arts (Online) | Oxford University Department  for Continuing Education

Best Free Art History Course for Beginners

1. How to Look at and Understand Great Art (Wondrium)

If you are just beginning your journey into the field of art history, then you should check out the free online courses from Wondrium. The site offers many art history courses that will help you “see” art in a whole new way. This free online art history course from Wondrium includes several classes on great works of art. You will reach new levels of appreciation by looking at the artwork in different ways. And you will learn what makes some pieces unforgettable, how to tell if something is fake, and so much more.

Benefits of This Course

– Learn how to see art in a new way.

– Gain insights into the techniques of famous artists.

– Be able to appreciate artwork on a deeper level.

Best Free Course for Art History Lovers

2. The Cathedral (Wondrium)

In addition to having the best online course for beginners, Wondrium offers several free courses for art history lovers. In this course from Wondrium, you will learn how to experience art history for what it really is. Most of us have always wanted to travel the world and see all sorts of interesting places. Unfortunately, we do not get to travel as much as we would like to. This online course makes it possible for art history lovers to experience the world’s greatest cathedrals without leaving home.

In this free art history course from Wondrium, you will explore Notre Dame, Chartres Cathedral, Amiens Cathedral, and Canterbury Cathedral. And your love for art history will grow even more when you take incredible tours of over 20 cathedrals from around the globe. You can learn about these historic buildings while exploring them yourself. Each cathedral tour comes with its own unique features and stunning videos and pictures.

Benefits of This Course

– Get to know cathedrals without the hassle of traveling.

– Learn about architecture, art, and history in this online course from Wondrium.

– Explore the world’s most beautiful buildings from home. 

– Experience the awe that these structures inspire through immersive 3-D tours.

Best Free Course for Art Historians

3. Great Artists of the Italian Renaissance (Wondrium)

Many students consider art history to be easy because they only need to memorize the names of famous artists and their works. But Wondrium’s online courses for art historians prove that there is more than just that. In this course, you will learn about Renaissance art in much more detail than what your textbook or art history professor could ever tell you. The paintings are so vivid and detailed that it feels like you are standing right in front of them. You will learn exactly why these masterpieces have stood the test of time as some of the greatest pieces ever created.

Benefits of This Course

– Learn about the Renaissance and its artists.

– Gain a sense of accomplishment from studying these great works of art. 

– See how beautiful the world can be when you take time to appreciate it. 

– Expand your knowledge on some of the greatest painters in history.

Arts | Oxford College Online - Bringing the highest quality support and  education to students from around the world .

Best Free Art History Course for Museum Curators

4. Tangible Things: Discovering History Through Artworks and Artifacts (Harvard University via edX)

If you are a museum curator looking for the best art history course, then you should consider this free course from Harvard. Most people think that studying art history means reading about famous paintings. But the study of art is more than what you see on the surface. Art historians have to know different things like how artists work and what historical context they were working in.

This online art history course from Harvard will teach you all these skills and more. It provides a hands-on experience where you get to explore real objects from Harvard’s collections. And you will learn how to interpret works of art through exercises and projects. By the end of this course, you will be able to read about great works of art and enjoy them.

Benefits of This Course

– Learn about the history of art museums in this free online course from Harvard University via edX.

– Gain an appreciation for art and artifacts. 

– Better understand how material objects shape academic disciplines.

Best Free Art History Course for Architects

5. The World’s Greatest Churches (Wondrium)

Architects who want to explore the world’s greatest Christian churches should consider this art history course. This course from Wondrium is a fantastic experience for both Christians and non-Christians alike. Wondrium has done all the hard work of finding great churches for this art history course. In this course, you will explore the world’s most amazing churches, basilicas, and cathedrals.

For example, you will learn about St. Peter’s Basilica, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. This course has high-quality video footage from inside these beautiful buildings. And you will get access to hours of video content along with detailed written descriptions, giving you everything you need to know.

Benefits of This Course

– Gain a better understanding of the history and significance of churches.

– Learn about the architectural styles, interior design, and artworks that make these buildings so remarkable. 

– Explore some of the most famous cathedrals in Europe in this online art history course from Wondium.

– Discover what makes these buildings so unique and beautiful.

Best Free Art History Course on the Louvre

6. Museum Masterpieces: The Louvre (Wondrium)

This free online art history course from Wondrium is great because it lets you tour the Louvre from the comfort of your home. We all know that it is a pain to visit places like the Louvre that are popular tourist destinations. And once you are in the Louvre, it is hard to know what paintings are worth your time. There are so many different styles and periods that it can be overwhelming.

Take this online art history course from Wondrium instead! One of the best art historians designed this virtual tour through the Louvre for students who want an overview of European paintings from 1400-1800. You will learn about each period as if you were at the museum yourself. For example, you will learn how Renaissance masters used perspective and anatomy to create realistic illusions on canvas. And how Baroque artists expressed emotion with dramatic lighting effects and exaggerated poses.

Benefits of This Course

– Gain a deeper understanding of the Louvre’s history.

– Understand the artworks in context with their historical and cultural background.

– Learn how to appreciate art more deeply with this online art history course.

– Become an expert on one of the world’s greatest museums

Best Free Course on the Kunsthistorisches Museum

7. The Great Museum (Wondrium)

This free online course from Wondrium explores the Kunsthistorisches Museum, one of the most important art institutions in the world. The museum has a collection that spans from antiquity to modernity, with works by artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens, and Picasso. And this course is one of the best ways to learn about the museum, as it offers unprecedented access to the institution. You will explore some of the museum’s greatest treasures through interviews with curators who work there. In addition, you will get an inside look into how the curators care for these priceless pieces of history, while still making them accessible to visitors.

Benefits of This Course

– Get an inside look at one of the world’s most prestigious museums. 

– Gain access to a variety of artworks that span centuries and genres. 

– Fall in love with art all over again with this online art history course from Wondrium.

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