Home > Courses >

European Art History

Degree: Bachelor of Arts
Application required: none
Course start: winter semester
Course duration: 6 semesters
Subject proportions: 75%; 50% (2); 25%
Language requirements: two modern second languages up to the orientation examination
Language of instruction:  German (in few cases: English, French)
Format options: full-time / part-time


Faculty of Philosophy


Programme overview

European Art History deals with the history of the plastic arts, architecture, applied arts, photography, performance arts and the new media in Europe and in European cultures from early medieval times until the present. In lectures and excursions the students expand their knowledge of art in the different ages and genres, and systematically acquire the conceptual tools to describe, classify and interpret these objects. The course introduces different methods of analysing artworks regarding their origin, type, function and effect, as well as their material and inspirational preconditions. Research is done on artworks, artistic materials and techniques, the history of artist training, art theory, the history of art literature and art history, its methods and institutions, and also its potential influence.

The classical professional fields comprise Museum and Cultural Management, Architectural Heritage, Schools, Universities, Research, Adult Education and Tourism, Journalism (press and publishing, radio, television, online services), Art and Antiques Trading, and Art Consulting.


Course structure

The Bachelor of Arts in European Art History can be studied in three variations:

- as a major with a thesis (75% taught course with 113 credits),

- as a second major (50% taught course with 74 credits) if the thesis is written in another major (first major worth 50%)

- as minor (25% with 35 credits) to another 75% major.

The course takes six semesters.

From the start, students attend lectures and proseminars in which they acquire in-depth knowledge of aspects of the subject and the skills to handle and present material independently. In addition, offers, the preparatory courses offer a structured introduction to the foundations of the subject (which the Heidelberg Institute for European Art History pioneered in Germany). These four classes deal with the thematic areas of Genres and Techniques, Form and Style, Iconography and Architecture, and present basic knowledge in a well-structured and concentrated way. The material is worked through in detail in tutorials, where students practise an independent approach to it. The range of classes is supplemented by practical sessions led by adjunct practitioners (e.g. museums, collections and art trade).

At the latest at the end of the second semester, students must have completed two preparatory courses in the major subjects, or one in the minor (the orientation examination is through continuous assessment). In the courses, they have to take modules with a definite number of lectures, seminars and practical classes – for further details see the Institute website (, Studium). The classes can be freely elected from the module lists contained in the course catalogue. In the module Visual Competences, students with this as their major (75%) can also gain insight into other subjects. Two two-day excursions must be completed in the two majors.

In the major subjects, the B.A. course concludes with an oral examination (about 30 minutes), and in the 75% course students write a thesis of around 40 pages.

Prerequisites for the B.A. in European Art History are proficiency in two modern languages, to be demonstrated at the latest for the orientation examination. Acquiring additional language skills is urgently recommended, as this is necessary to be able to read international specialist literature and is indispensable for many areas of work. (Reading skills in three modern foreign languages are required for the M.A. following on the B.A., along with the university Latin exam, or a command of a further foreign language).


Focus of research and teaching

With four full professors, three assistants and numerous non-tenured and honorary professors and adjunct staff, the teaching at the Institute for European Art History covers the whole breadth of the subject – from the early Middle Ages to the present, or from architecture to media art. A special feature is classes in the area of Ibero-American Art History. Through the range of neighbouring subjects (e.g. Archeology, Byzantine Art History, East Asian Art History, Jewish Art History at the Heidelberg College for Jewish Studies) the course in Heidelberg offers further excellent opportunities for intercultural profiling.

The research interests of professors at the Institute include the following:

  • Book painting
  • Arts of North-Alpine areas in the High and Late Middle Ages
  • Medieval religious architecture including décor
  • Archeology and building research of the High and Late Middle Ages
  • Painting and graphics of the Italian Renaissance
  • Art at the time of Dürer
  • Sculpture from the Renaissance to Classical Modernity
  • Architecture and architectural theory from Classicism to Modernity
  • 19th century painting
  • Pictorial arts from the 20th century to the present
  • History of art literature, art theory and art history
  • practices of visual representation
  • gender and political iconography in modern France

In research, the Institute for European Art History is currently engaged in projects on:

  • Digital recording of medieval book painting, and analysis of narrative strategies in the interplay of text and image
  • Various projects in building research, e.g. digital reconstruction of the medieval Lorsch Monastery (including developing an information system)
  • Abstraction before 1900: the history of the accidental image and effect aesthetics
  • Empirical studies on the psychophysiology of aesthetic experience

Being part of the Centre for European Historical and Cultural Studies (ZEGK), the lecturers at the Institute for European Art History pursue cultural research in interdisciplinary cooperation, particularly in the fields of History, Musicology and Religious Studies. International partnerships exist through active ERASMUS exchanges with universities in Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, regular guest professorships and international Master’s programmes in Art History and Museology in Cooperation with the École du Louvre in Paris.

For teaching and research in the field of Art History, Heidelberg offers an access to sources and research unique in Germany. Besides a well endowed institute library, the university library holds significant stocks of old documents as well as a relevant recent literature, supplied quickly and almost completely, such as the special collections on Medieval and Modern Art History until 1945 and Classical Archeology.



There is no restriction on admission; information on enrolment may be found here.

International applicants

There are special regulations for international applicants. For more information, apply to the International Relations Office of Heidelberg University (Seminarstraße 2).

Subject combinations

Possible subject combinations are listed in the subject handbook.

Examination regulations

Examination regulations: European Art History

Module Handbook

Please click here to find the latest Module Handbook.

Examination board

The respective examinations board or office is responsible for credit transfer, recognition, and examination issues. Further details are available from the academic advisor.


To study at Heidelberg University, fees must be paid at the beginning of each semester.

Master of Arts

Heidelberg University offers an M.A. in European Art History and an international Master’s in Art History and Museology.

Academic advisor

Dr. Liane Wilhelmus
Seminarstr. 4, room 117
Tuesday 15.00 - 16.00 h (sign up via E-Mail)
Phone: +49 (0)6221 - 54 2344

Dr. des. Tobias Frese
Seminarstr. 4, room 212
Thursday 11.00 - 13.00 h
Phone: +49 (0)6221-54-2351


Institute for European Art History
D-69117 Heidelberg

Phone: +49 (0)6221- 54-2423
Fax: +49 (0)6221-54-3382

Student representative body



Editor:: Email
Latest Revision: 2018-07-11
zum Seitenanfang/up