Home > Courses >

European Art History

Degree: Master of Arts
Application required: access-restricted
Course commences: winter semester / summer semester
Standard course duration: 4 semesters
Format options: full-time / part-time
Language requirements: two modern foreign languages (on application);
Latin or another classical language (on application)
Language of instruction: German (in few cases: English, French)
Other features: postgraduate / consecutive

Faculty of Philosophy

Course outline

The M.A. course in European Art History investigates the history of the fine arts, architecture, applied arts, photography, performance arts and the new media in Europe and European-based civilisations from the early Middle Ages to the present. In taught classes and on excursions, students extend their knowledge of artworks from a variety of different epochs and genres and are systematically trained in the use of the conceptual tools required to describe, categorise and interpret such objects. They are acquainted with various methods of analysing artworks in terms of their inception, particularities, functions and effects, as well as the material and ideational conditions surrounding their creation. Research at the Institute focuses on artworks, artistic materials and techniques, the history of artistic training, theory of art, the history of literature on art and of art historiography, their methods and institutions and their potential impact.

Career prospects typically centre on museum and culture management, cultural heritage preservation, schools, higher education, research, adult education, tourism, communication (press and publishing, radio, television, online services), art liberaries, insurances,  trade in artworks and antiques, private collections and art consulting. The M.A course is also an ideal foundation for a doctorate in art history.

Course structure

The M.A. course in European Art History comprises the main subject requiring 70 CP for successful completion, a subsidiary subject accounting for 20 CP and an M.A. thesis worth 30 CP.

Standard course duration is 4 semesters.

In the first three semesters, students attend seminars and lectures on the history of European art (at least six lectures and three seminars involving in-class presentations and essays (main subject) and two seminars involving in-class presentations and essays (subsidiary subject)). Also obligatory for students of European Art History as a main subject is attendance of a seminar on methodology, ideally in the first or second semester. They are also required to take part in excursions (eight days all told, at least four of them in sequence). Within the module structure as set out in the curriculum, students are free to choose the classes they wish to attend. In the “supplementary” module, students majoring in the subject can flesh out their profiles with (usually) three additional classes (13 CP altogether) of their own choice. Typically these are either additional seminars or practical classes in Art History or classes offered by other departments. For more details, consult the guide to studies (Studienplan) on the homepage of the Institute.

Students choosing European Art History as their main subject will spend their fourth semester writing their M.A. thesis (approx. 60 pages).

Admission to the M.A. course is conditional on above-average grades in a prior B.A. degree in European Art History (or a comparable university course) accounting for at least 50% or 70 CP (main subject) or 20% (28 CP) for the subsidiary subject. Language requirements are two foreign languages and proficiency in Latin (main subject; students with a non-European cultural background can replace Latin with a third foreign language). Students selecting European Art History as a subsidiary subject require good working knowledge of two foreign languages.

Subsidiary subject

In this course, 20 CP are acquired in a subsidiary (minor) subject. You will find a list of all subsidiary subjects available here.

The M.A. course in European Art History can also be taken as a subsidiary (minor) subject accounting for 20 CP.

Main interests in research and teaching

With five professors, a senior professorship, five professorial assistants and various extraordinary, honorary and adjunct professors, the Institute of European Art History (IEK) at Heidelberg University covers the complete range of the subject from the Middle Ages, Early Modern Age, Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism all the way up to modern and contemporary art. This coverage includes Europe’s most important art regions and all the relevant genres from drawing, print graphics and painting to sculpture and architecture, and also extending to literature on art, theory of art and methodology. One special feature is the focus on Ibero-American art. The offerings of neighbouring subjects (Archaeology, Byzantine Art History, East Asian Art History, Jewish Art History at the College of Jewish Studies, etc.) and teaching collaboration with the cluster of excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” (with Germany’s first professorship on Global Art History) present students with excellent opportunities for enhancing their study profiles on an intercultural plane.

The research interests of the professors teaching at the IEK make for focal emphasis in the following fields:

  • medieval book illustration
  • functional issues in medieval imagery
  • art of the North Alpine area in the high and late Middle Ages
  • history of early print graphics as an art and a medium
  • medieval sacred architecture and its accoutrements
  • archaeology and construction research (high and late Middle Ages)
  • painting and graphics in the Italian Renaissance and the Baroque period
  • classicistic architecture, urban design and architectural theory up to the present
  • fine arts and architecture in the Kurpfalz (Heidelberg and environs) and at courts in southwest Germany
  • pictorial arts of the 20th century up to the present
  • history of literature on art, art theory and art historiography
  • the phenomenon of (art) forgery
  • art and its reception in literature and the media (films, music videos, etc.)
  • practices of visual representation
  • gender and political iconography in modern France

At present, research projects are under way at the Institute of European Art History on the following subjects (a selection):

  • digitisation of medieval book illustrations and analysis of narrative strategies in the interplay between text and image
  • various construction research projects, e.g. digital reconstruction of the medieval monastery in Lorsch (incl. development of an information system)
  • script and script characters on and in medieval artworks: investigation of inscriptions in liturgical space, on church portals and walls (part-project in the framework of Special Research Project SFB 933 “Material Text Cultures – Materiality and Presence of the Written Word in Non-Typographic Societies”)
  • portable music videos: research project on the aesthetic presentation of music videos in the context of handhelds (smartphones, tablet PCs, etc.).

As part of the Centre for European Historical and Cultural Studies (ZEGK) the teaching staff at the Institute of European Art History explore cultural studies issues by means of interdisciplinary cooperation notably with the departments of history, musicology and religious studies. International contacts are maintained via active exchange in the framework of the ERASMUS programme with universities in Belgium, France, Italy, Poland, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom, regular visiting professorships and the international M.A. course in art history and museology conducted jointly with the Ecole du Louvre, Paris.

In Heidelberg, art history teaching and research benefits from ease of access to sources and research literature unrivalled anywhere else in Germany. Aside from the extensive Institute library, Heidelberg University Library boasts not only a highly significant collection of old texts but also two Special Collections on “Art History from the Middle Ages to 1945” and “Classical Archaeology” with near-complete and regularly updated holdings of the relevant research literature.

Formal requirements


Access to the course is restricted. The current Admission Regulations are available here.

Prospective students from Germany

Prospective students from Germany can enrol without prior application at the Central University Administration building by the beginning of the lecture period. To matriculate, they are required to show a written statement of admission issued by the representative of the Master’s programme they wish to attend, confirming that the requirements set out in the Admission Regulations have been met. Please apply to the Institute of European Art History for further information on how to proceed.

International prospective students

Prospective students from other countries must apply in writing, so that their previous academic record can be verified. The deadline for international applicants is 15 June for the winter semester and 15 November for the summer semester. Applications must be addressed directly to the International Relations Office. Please use the M.A. application form here and enclose the necessary documents.

Further information

Current information on procedure

Study and examination regulations

Examination regulations M.A.  (15 May 2015)

Module Handbook

Please click here to find the latest Module Handbook

Examinations board

Issues arising in connection with examinations, credit transfer and academic credential recognition are dealt with by the relevant examinations board/office. For more information, consult the academic advisor(s) indicated below.


Tuition fees at Heidelberg University are payable at the beginning of each semester.

Academic advisor

Dr. Liane Wilhelmus
Seminarstraße 4, Office 115
Tuesdays 3.00 - 4.00 pm
phone: +49 (0)6221 542344

Dr. Tobias Frese
Seminarstraße 4, Office 212
Thursdays 10 – 11.30 am
phone: +49 (0)6221 542351


Institute of European Art History
Seminarstraße 4
D-69117 Heidelberg

Secretaries' office

phone: +49 (0)6221 542423 or 542348
fax: +49 (0)6221 543382


Student representation:


Editor:: Email
Latest Revision: 2018-03-08
zum Seitenanfang/up