The Courtauld Institute of Art, with only 400 students, is the major center in Britain for the study of the history of Western art. The aim of the undergraduate degree at the Courtauld is to develop visual awareness and expertise and to give a professional training in the study of Western art. The Courtauld does not offer practical training courses for artists or designers.
London is one of the most exciting and dynamic places in the world to be a student - a city at the cutting-edge of developments in every field. With more than 8.5 million inhabitants and an incredible concentration of history and creativity throughout the city, you can find yourself among a sea of both British and worldwide cultures. For study purposes, London offers special advantages, including major libraries, museums and art galleries, the headquarters of learned societies, and research institutes in medicine, law and the humanities.
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The Courtauld is especially well known for its many graduates who have become directors of art museums around the world including the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery in London, the National Portrait Gallery in London, the British Museum in London, and the Museo del Prado in Madrid. The number of notable alumni in the fine arts has earned graduates the "Courtauld Mafia" nickname.
The program at The Courtauld Institute of Art is for College students studying art history.
Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.5
Language Prerequisite: No previous study required.
Language of Instruction
A full course load at the Courtauld Institute of Art will depend upon whether the student is taking courses in the 1st, 2nd, or (rarely) 3rd year level. It is the responsibility of prospective participants to arrange with their major advisor at Penn before departure and through communication at the time of course selection that an appropriate amount of Penn credit will be awarded as equivalent to the work done at the Courtauld. Penn students must maintain a full course load while abroad and may only enroll in courses at the undergraduate level.
The Courtauld teaches one undergraduate course: a three-year honors degree in the History of Art. It is a specialist degree, which concentrates solely on the history of Western art while offering options across an enormous chronological and geographical range. All study of art and architecture at the Courtauld is based in a consideration of the works themselves, placed in the historical, social and cultural contexts of their production. Anyone admitted is expected to adapt to the regular teaching program offered to degree candidates and to meet the academic qualifications and performance standards of regular degree candidates.
Students may be admitted to the first year or the second year of the BA History of Art, depending on their academic background and interests. The first year offers broad coverage of the periods and regions of Western art. The second year introduces more specialized investigation and enables students to develop critical thinking and extend their detailed knowledge of art historical periods.
First Year Program:
Students who study for one semester will participate in one term of the Foundation Lecture Course, which runs throughout the year and focuses on major themes and issues in the history of Western art from antiquity to the present; and one Topic course, which is based on first-hand study of original works of art in London and involve visits to sites and museums. They may also complete an independent research project connected to the Courtauld coursework they are pursuing.
Students who study for a full year will participate in the full Foundation Lecture course, which focuses on major themes and issues in the history of Western art from antiquity to the present; and two Topic courses, which is based on first-hand study of original works of art in London and involve visits to sites and museums.
Topics courses offered change annually but have included: Getting to Grips with Rembrandt, Central Italian Renaissance Art in London Collections, Victorian Institutions: Sites and Monuments, and Contemporary Art in London.
Second Year Program:
Students who study for one semester will participate in one Texts and Contexts course, which is designed to explore current debates in the theory and practice of art-historical scholarship and to examine the methods and approaches of key art historians of the past; and one Theme course, which entails consideration of a specific significant issue that crosses a wider historical span (i.e., Classicism). They may also complete an independent research project connected to the Courtauld coursework they are pursuing.
Students who study for a full year will join one of each type of course listed above.
Texts and Contexts courses may include: The Metaphysics of Art History: German art history from Kant to Gombrich, Monuments and Memory, Man, Nature and the Construction of the Landscape Idea, Approaches to the Architecture of Michelangelo, and Artists' Writings 1960s to the Present.
As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average. The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school. For more information on Penn Abroad’s academic policies, click here.
Grades are reported to Penn on the Courtauld Institute number scale and then converted to Penn grades according to the following grade equivalencies:
All Penn students are required to attend the orientation activities organized by the Courtauld Institute prior to the start of each semester. More information will be distributed upon acceptance.
Penn students studying at the Courtauld Institute have access to a wide range of student activities and associations. The Students' Union produces information on student life and events of the institute.
Participants must be willing to live under local conditions for students.
All full-year undergraduate students are eligible to apply for a place at the University Intercollegiate Halls of Residence. Courtauld now has an institutional hall of residence, Duchy House, which houses both under- and postgraduate students. Only students who study for a whole academic year may apply for accommodation through the institute. Information regarding on-campus accommodation can be found here.
Students are charged Penn tuition and academic fees for all Penn Abroad programs. Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, visas, and airfare. Please see the program budget sheets below for more information. For more on Penn Abroad’s financial policies, click here.
Financial Aid and Study Abroad
In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs. Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package. For more information on how Financial Aid will work during your semester abroad, click here.
AASAP/UK Lord Acton Memorial Scholarship: Merit-based scholarship awarded to the applicant who demonstrates an understanding and appreciation of the value of an international educational experience and who agrees to share how the scholarship helped to fulfil their academic and personal ambitions. The award is £500 for a semester abroad or £1,000 for a full year.
BUTEX offers eight scholarships to North American students studying at a university in the United Kingdom. The value of each scholarship is £500 and will be paid to the winners once they have arrived and registered at their host university. Interested students should contact the appropriate Global Programs Manager in the Penn Abroad office.
For information on the Penn Abroad application process, click here.
To open an application or learn more about the program, please click here to schedule an appointment with a Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager.